Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Kids, Songs, and Courage

We were downstairs in the church basement after the service, and the kids were practicing for Christmas. Every year at our church the children sing a couple of songs during our special Christmas service.

I love, love, love watching my kids, and all the kids sing. (So does Chloe, apparently. Her little eyes lit up once they started.)

There was a time when I didn't know if Ethan would ever be able to handle getting up on the stage and singing. This is our third year, and the first two years went relatively well. He spent a good amount of time glancing at either his watch or the clock mounted high on the wall directly opposite the stage, but he was up there, happily singing, for the most part.

This is not something we would force either kid to do. But watching them at home, it's easy to see they love music. Anna is our lyrics person. I believe she (along with umpteen million other tween girls) wants to be the next Taylor Swift. Her goal is to memorize every song she likes within a few minutes of hearing it. These type of memorization skills (which she's inherited from Dan) have also served her well with drama. I've found all kinds of scraps of lyrics scribbled on papers in her room.

Ethan is the music guy. Like me he can figure out songs by ear and always seems to need to add a soundtrack when he's playing. It's quite funny, actually, to see him rolling around on the floor with toys that are "fighting each other," singing some sort of intense background music, or adding musical accompaniment while he's playing sports outside.

They both have good voices and Anna usually ends up with solos. Ethan, however, refuses them. The thought petrifies him.

And so there we were Sunday and once again "Ms. Marsha" was asking who would like to try for a solo. Wiggling hands went up into the air. Ethan's buddy right beside him sang the first solo. I love this little guy. He belted the words out, strong and true. The kid's got a great voice. And I noticed last year too how much he LOVES to sing. When his solo tryout was over, he couldn't stop singing. He kept going, through all the other solos. He didn't even notice. His dad gave me a sheepish smile.

I could completely relate. The kid reminded me of me, catching myself singing to the Muzak in the aisles of Big Y and wondering just how long I'd been singing without even realizing.

"Would you like to sing a solo this year?" I asked Ethan when they were done, knowing perfectly well what the answer would be.

"No mamma," he replied solemnly. "The solos are when you sing the song ALL ALONE."

Outside, he saw his little friend leaving just in front of us. His dad had hoisted him up and was carrying him. "Bye Ethan!!" he called out. Apparently, this kid loves Ethan and was very happy to hear Ethan would be singing with him again this year.

"Mamma?" Ethan asked. "How come he is a little bit younger than me but he is brave enough to sing all by himself?"

"Ethan, lots of people are afraid to sing solos, not just you. Do you know there a lot of grown-ups who are too afraid to sing up on the stage?"

"Really?" He seemed shocked by this. I knew why. Ethan had a system in his head that had to do with age and bravery. The older you became, you more brave you most concurrently must become.

I've known little ones who are more brave than most of us adults put together.

"You know what's even worse?" he asked. "If you are up on the stage and it's dark and there's a big spotlight shining right on you."

I thought back to a year our church did Handel's "Messiah" and I had a solo just like that. I'm not sure if that spotlight illuminated that my entire body went numb and I was fairly convinced I was going to pass out.

"I know, Ethe. You know, it's okay if you don't want to sing a solo -- unless you're letting fear stop you from doing something you want to do. That's not good."

There was no answer. We got in the car. I think we both needed to sit with that thought for a moment.

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