the state of things

 

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas #4

by Douglas Lindsay - 09:23 on 16 December 2008

I’ve lost my morning pre-school mojo. Everything seems rushed. There always seems to be some last minute crisis. The kids seem to be arguing more, I seem to be shouting a lot. This morning, in the midst of the mayhem, One of Two stopped to give me a word by word breakdown of the fourth verse of We Three Kings - the one that starts Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume - spending a good fifteen minutes over Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying, laid in the stone cold tomb. I stood looking at her like she was some kind of alien. Partly because I was amazed that she was being insightful, and partly because she still hadn’t put on her socks and I was in Desperate Housewife mode and wanting to shout, Stop talking about the gathering flippin’ gloom and get dressed! I heard her thesis out and we moved on.

Yesterday she contemplated playing We Three Kings with one finger at the school piano concert. I wouldn’t let her. There is some merit in getting kids up in front of an audience as soon as possible, in terms of confidence building and getting them to address a crowd. However, getting them up there just for the sake of it, to do anything, performing monkeys with a right forefinger, to be richly applauded by a roomful of desperate adults, is all wrong. It says, It’s ok kids, you don’t even have to be competent anymore, you’ll be congratulated anyway. That doesn’t prepare them for real life.

I made One of Two practice Deck The Halls using both hands, while spending my time trying to persuade her to go to swimming instead, as this would have saved me from having to go and listen to all the other kids play. It didn’t work. And so yesterday afternoon I had to go to the piano recital. And the one fingered brigade were out in force.

Upon entering I was a little wary of One of Two’s appearance, as she hadn’t quite nailed the two handed Deck The Halls and the odd mistake was inevitable. Needn’t have worried. Out of the three hundred and fifteen kids playing Silent Night and Frosty The ****ing Snowman, she was in the top five.

The concert started. A succession of single fingers walked up to the piano and played a well known Christmas carol. Or two, in some cases. A wee girl minced her way through some famous carol or other, and just as we were about to burst into riotous applause to celebrate her genius she played the first note of Once In Royal David’s City. Several minutes later she played the second note. And then, in slow succession, all the others......very......very......very.....carefully. The guy standing next to me leaned over and said, This must be what death is like. I started to laugh, but then realised that he was leaning over because he’d had a heart attack. By the time the ambulance arrived fifteen minutes later, the wee girl was almost up to Stood a lowly cattle shed.

She played on and on, every last note. I counted them all out and I counted them all back in again. There was a brief hesitation after she finally finished the verse and then suddenly the place erupted in a cacophony of adulation, as we indicated to her as loudly as possible that we expected she was finished. Nevertheless she seemed cheered by this and turned to start the second verse, before the overseeing piano instructor whipped the piano out from under the kid’s outstretched finger.

The concert wore on. Two of Two did her bit. I’d still rather she’d gone swimming, but at least she was ok, and at least she used both of her hands and more than one finger on each hand at that.

As the clock ticked round to midnight and the bolts were drawn back on the doors, allowing us all to leave at last, the piano instructor announced that the next event would be the end of the school year concert in June, as if we’d all be pleased about that. Well, there may be conventions about applauding young children, no matter how awful, but adults do not need to be accorded such covenants of social behaviour. She was roundly booed and hounded from the stage in ignominy.


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