Julia: “I want to be an astronomer when I grow up.”
Lucy: “When I grow up, I want to be a super star – like Julia.”
Julia: “Wow, Lucy. Thanks. I’m not really a super star, though.”
Julia, to her, you are.
I absolutely love this picture because that look on my mother’s face? THAT is my mother. If I had to tell you who my mom is in a glimpse – that’s it, right there. The cat in her lap is no mistake, either.
Julia began piano lessons at age three on June 14, 2007. I know because I wrote about it. I’m so glad I did. It was one of those times I believed I’d never forget. And I haven’t. But memories pile up. They push up against each other, rub together. It gets harder to know one from the other. They blur and distort simply from the way they are stored. And nothing looks the same four years away. This is why I will never stop blogging. With just the wiggle of a finger, a click can take me back to that moment, like a time machine. I can stand right in it, see what she looked like, and experience how I felt then all over again, because it’s captured in my own words and through my own lens. I’m so thankful for that.
If you’ve been reading here for long or have the interest to click for the backstories I link to, you know piano has been as much a growing experience for me as it’s been for Julia. It’s something we’ve always done together. I’ve taken notes at every class, stood behind her during every practice and held my breath at each performance. I’m not taking credit for her hard work, but it would be remiss to ignore my contribution. Julia has given her heart to piano and I’ve given my heart to her. We’ve both been invested in this endeavor. She recently completed book one in her Suzuki curriculum and on Friday, we celebrated this accomplishment with a recital.
I wanted to do it BIG, because this felt so, so big. But the truth is, it was only big to a few people. And so, my wise husband talked me down from the chocolate fountain, the fondant cake and the performance hall. Instead, we held the recital at a local church.
There are 18 songs in book one and Julia performed them all, as well as the duet with her grandma that she’d learned for a piano ensemble event last year.
Since the songs were relatively short, we mixed things up a little. We folded an origami butterfly for each song and attached them to some floral wire, labeled them, and stuck them among a display of flowers.
Throughout the recital, Julia invited members from the audience to select a butterfly to determine which song she would play. She recognized her teacher Mr. Palmer and invited him to choose the first one. I wish I had a video to share – not just of her performance, but of her opening remarks, because the kid was impressive. But things moved so fast, I didn’t even turn my camera on. Thankfully, the kind members of the church recorded everything for us! The recital will live forever on VHS, and one day, when I can get it converted, here, too. For now, you must take my word that she did alright. There were mistakes, but she handled it with grace. I was very proud of her.
After the performance, we enjoyed punch and homemade cupcakes and the company of the good people who showed up to support her.
Small and simple, but no less important.
*The invitations came from the PaperTiger Studio shop at Etsy.
I’m churning out chocolate treble clefs. Next, I will fold twenty origami butterflies. Julia – YES, JULIA! – has broken out in hives.
Tonight is her Suzuki book one piano recital.
I wanted to tell her, “Hives! Hey, at least it’s not nervous diarrhea!” (That’s what I have! TMI!) Instead I tried some reassurance. “Don’t be nervous, Jules,” I said as she headed off for school. “You’re ready.” She is. “You are ready for this.”
“Yeah,” she replied, scratching at her red bumps. “It’s just….it’s just…”
“I know. It’s big.”
“Yeah. But you’ll be there with me, right?”
My children are at their hungriest one half hour before dinner. It doesn’t matter if it’s early or late, the words, “Heads up girls, dinner will be ready in half an hour,” inspires them to migrate to the kitchen to gaze into the cabinets and refrigerator for anything we have that isn’t dinner. And then it begins.
“Can I have a popsicle?”
“Not before dinner.”
“Can I have this granola bar?”
“Dinner will be ready in less than half an hour.”
“Can I have some cheese?”
“You can have dinner in about half an hour.”
“But I’m hungry!”
“That’s good. You should be hungry. It’s almost dinner time.”
“Can I just have some strawberries? Strawberries are healthy.”
“Yes, but if you fill up on strawberries now, you won’t eat your dinner, so you can wait for dinner. The strawberries will be there later.”
“But I’m so hungry!”
“If you’re still hungry after dinner, you can have some strawberries then.”
Well, last night, Julia spotted some blue Marshmallow Peep Chicken Bunnies in the snack cabinet.
“MOM,” she groaned. “Can I please, please, PAH-LEASE have some peeps? Please? I’ll eat all my dinner, I promise.”
“Not before dinner.”
“You have to eat your dinner first.”
And that’s how Julia was motivated to eat every bite of her dinner. Lucy wasn’t so inspired.
“Mom,” Julia ventured. She’d worked hard to restrain herself for one full, torturous minute after her plate was clean before posing the question I knew was coming. Struggling to keep her cool, she asked, “Can I have some Peeps now?”
“Hold on, Jules. Lucy isn’t finished, yet. You can both have Peeps once you’re both finished.”
“What if Lucy doesn’t finish?”
“Then there will be no Peeps.”
I know. It didn’t seem fair. But I glimpsed the meltdown that was certain to come if Julia got Peeps and Lucy didn’t. And Bill Cosby said it best: “Parents are not interested in justice. They want quiet!”
Julia sighed and turned her attention to Lucy and the creamy chicken castle she’d built on her plate. “You know you have to eat that if we’re going to get Peeps, Lucy.”
Lucy just grinned and filled her moat with milk.
Julia looked panicked. “Mom?”
“Lucy, you still have to eat that. And you better hurry. You’ve got ten minutes before bath time.”
Julia’s eyes darted from side to side as she contemplated the challenge before her. “Alright,” she shouted, standing up and facing Lucy. “You can do this. We need those Peeps.”
And suddenly, it was like an episode of Fear Factor in our dining room.
Julia scooped up a handful of dinner and said, “Open your mouth. Open your mouth, Lucy! You can do this.”
Lucy’s eyes met Julia’s and grew wide.
“You want those Peeps, don’t you Lucy?”
Lucy nodded and said, “I can do this.”
“You can,” Julia nodded as milk dripped from her clenched fingers. And then she shoveled the contents of her fist right in Lucy’s mouth.
Lucy closed her eyes, chewed, and chewed and chewed, finally swallowing, shuddering, then opening her gob for more. They went on like this for at least four more rounds before Lucy held up a hand and cupped her mouth.
“C’mon Lucy. C’mon Lucy, you can do it. Do it for the Peeps!!!!”
By golly, that kid ate every milk-soaked bite on her plate. And there were Peeps. My God, there were Peeps.