Friday, December 15, 2006

I wanna live forever....I wanna learn how to fly!

At Susie's school holiday program last night, I learned a couple of interesting things.

Susie has undergone some major personality changes in the last few years. In first grade, when I asked her if she wanted to take ballet, she vehemently told me that no she did not because she did not want to perform in front of people. Now, I'm a complete sucker for little girls in ballet outfits zipping around a stage, and I really, really wanted my little darling to do that. So I tried to convince her: "But sweetie, you sing in the children's choir at church...and that's performing in front of people..." She's no dummy. She had an answer: "But I know all those people at church. It's not the same. I'm shy." And I dropped it. She's always been a child who knows her limits, actual or self-created. (A trait that will hopefully serve her well in her teen years.)

Fast-forward a couple of years, and suddenly she's not only okay with performing in front of strangers, she's actually happy about it. She's performed very well at piano recitals, appearing composed and not choking if she made a mistake in the song. When she was invited to join the school's chorus, she was really excited. Part of that excitement stems from her efforts to be a more responsible, more mature version of her mother. (Yes, you read it right.) Mom sings, and now Susie sings. All is well in the world. And last night, all was most definitely well in the world. She was great - played a xylophone and though I could tell when she goofed, she stayed focused and didn't panic, and sang the songs just fine - due in part to much much much preparation, both at school and at home. (And, by the way....a major plug for Orff music programs....what they're doing in my kids' schools is so much more interesting and challenging than the music programs of my childhood. And all this talk of arts programs being cut is not an issue in our school - we have three regular music teachers, then also a strings teacher and a piano teacher. So there's a point in favor of Memphis City Schools.)

But also at this program, in which The Boy was not a participant but an audience member (and a seasoned one at that: the students had already seen the program earlier that day), I learned that The Boy is beginning to want to open his wings on the stage too. When he was very little (three years old) he wanted to sing in the children's choir at church (probably because his sister was participating), which was open to children from kindergarten to sixth grade. Our minister at the time had grandchildren about the same ages as my kids, so she really couldn't say no to a cherubic little blonde boy whose hair looked like the Campbell's soup kid. Even if he was too little to sing the songs correctly.

Within a couple of years, the Boy was no longer interested in children's choir. (Which really hurt my feelings because he's got a really pretty voice.) But in the past six months, he has expressed interest in a local Boy's Choir and in a larger children's choir. (Our church no longer has a children's choir because the minister who was the director of it has retired.) And last night, as we watched the school's modern dance group perform (I'd call it more like hip hop dance), he told me that he'd like to join that group. There's one boy in the group and the Boy took Karate with him last year and has pronounced him "nice." He also said he'd like to participate in the after school acting program. And then said, "I just want to perform!"

Last year, his grandparents gave him a book by Jay Leno, "How to Be the Funniest Kid in the Whole Wide World." He leafed through it a bit, but it got put on the bookshelf and not looked at again until close to this past Thanksgiving. And now he's all about telling jokes and funny stories. And, honestly, he's funny. His delivery is really good, and he makes up some really wacky material. He does the little quote marks in the air gesture in random moments, and it works. He isn't a class clown type kid - in fact, he's very serious at school - but he may really have a knack for comedy.

So our job now is to figure out how to proceed with this one. Susie is obviously interested in the world of music, which is a path I know very well from years and years and years of piano and choir. The Boy, however, has shown promise in music and now acting and is interested in dance. Too bad that school from "Fame" isn't here and available for second grade!

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