Friday, August 28, 2015

The Orchestra

I was never a team sports kind of  girl. Well, to be honest, I was never a sports of any kind kind of girl (other than occasionally the swim team). But orchestra. That was my thing. It was the place I truly felt like I belonged.

I played the violin from 4th grade through Sophomore year in college, even - somehow - getting a small scholarship my first two years in college. I'm pretty sure it was thanks to my orchestra director who loved me (the feeling, btw, was mutual). I was never really any good, mind you. I never felt the need to practice at home. I mean, who wanted to lug that thing back and forth home to school every day. And practicing just my part of the music didn't sound all that great. And not just because I sucked, mind you, but because, when you're not in the first section, you rarely get the melody.

Regardless, I loved it.

I loved the music. I loved to be a part of creating the music. Even though I was somewhere far back in the 2nd violin section, hence only got a supporting role, it didn't matter to me. When all the parts played together, it was magical. Yes, even as a bunch of 4th graders. Though, I'll tell you, once we got to high school, it really was transformative for me, especially on those occasions when we got it *just right*. The feeling of creating something beautiful with a group of people, it just has profound meaning for me.

Probably as much as the music itself, the people were what made orchestra so important for me. These were my people. Yes, some of us were rather dorky. Some of us were quite popular. Many of us didn't know a football from a golf ball. But some of us were gifted athletically. Some of us sucked at our instruments. Others were truly talented (many of my orchestra friends have gone on to full-time careers in music). But, for the most part, we were who we were and - in that place, if no where else - we were accepted as we were, for who we were.

Now that doesn't mean I was great friends with everyone. There were people who I didn't particularly like, and I'm certain others would say that about me. However, there was a solidarity, a common purpose, a respect between us that  allowed for us to mostly peacefully co-exist. And that wasn't a feeling I necessarily experienced outside of that orchestra room (or cafeteria, as the case was in elementary school). But, just knowing that that kind of acceptance was a possibility, that feeling part of something bigger than me was possible, that changed my life. It had an enormous impact on who I have become.

So, you can imagine my big feelings when my kiddo agreed to participate in orchestra this year. 4th grade is when it starts. It's when it started for me. The feeling of fitting, of being where I belonged.

My kid has been struggling to find the "thing" that is his. We'd hoped he'd get into an arts school for visual arts and that he'd find his "thing" there, but it didn't happen. We haven't been able to find a sport, or any other activity that is his "thing". It's not that he doesn't like doing things. Really, he's fairly content to do about anything. But he doesn't love anything. There's just nothing that he really seems passionate about.

Also, he hasn't yet found that group of kids who are his people. And, as much as anything, I want that for him. To have a  group of peers where he feels comfortable, confident, and just able to be himself. That's what orchestra was for me.

It's totally fine with me if orchestra isn't his thing. I think there's a possibility it might be. In truth, it would thrill me if it was. But it's fine if it's not. Mostly I'll be happy, thrilled for him, when he finds whatever that thing is. Because that feeling of belonging, it makes life so much easier, so much happier, so much more full.

So, the first time I see him with his very own viola perched under his chin, the bow all rosin-ed up and poised over the strings, surrounded by other string players, I'm going to cry. And, yes it'll probably be as much for the little Becky who had finally found her place as it will be for my boy. But that's okay.

And, when he does finally find his "thing", I'll cry then, too. Because I'll remember what a gift it is, to know you are where you are supposed to be. And so grateful that he has found that for himself.

Today's Lesson: As much as I love parenting the littles, there is much joy in being able to share different parts of myself with them as they grow and can understand and accept those things. Those moments make the smart mouth a little easier to take. Usually.