My children and I participate in few paid activities. They are expensive, and I want to avoid overscheduling him just because it’s harder for me to organize activities and keep him otherwise engaged and occupied. One class, however, has become a mainstay for the most part. This international music class for young ones varies in quality depending on the instructor, but I managed to find one with a man my son adores. Little Man is more gregarious these days, but while I wasn’t thrilled with this man’s personality initially, he cracked my son’s quiet shell immediately. I can’t argue with that.
We recently finished our third enrollment in this program, and toward the end of this go around, the instructor pulled me aside as we rushed out to meet my son’s speech therapist. I remember the music teacher double taking something Mr. Man said, although I forgot immediately after what it was. There was something else of note I noticed as well, also lost to memory. I know nothing of music or other typical toddler benchmarks and capabilities, so generally think nothing of my first’s skill acquisitions.
It isn’t so much that I think negatively of his abilities or doubt his natural gifts; I choose not to think much of them either way. My world view in this arena is that one can be simultaneously homeless or useless in society and brilliant or gifted. I have no control over my children’s natural gifts, but I have some control in helping them learn to be productive and positive contributors in society regardless of their innate skills. I don’t question my ability to set high expectations, but for me it is more about helping them make the most of their life. For that I prefer to have a blank slate in my mind that forms an image of increasing detail as my children age.
When this skilled musician and teacher informed me of my son’s perfect pitch and possible gift in music, I immediately felt a wave of panic. I still can’t conclusively say why fear washed over me at that moment. Some time later I still ruminate over questions that spontaneously come to mind at random intervals. What do I do with this information? Obviously, all of it depends on my son’s interest in the area, but aside from that, what does a parent do with a possible exceptional skill, especially at such a young age? It’s been weeks with no reveal, but like so much of my life in the last two years, I suppose at some point I’ll know what the next definitive step should be.
But, for now he sings songs I recognize immediately even without complete utterings of lyrics. While I have no concept of what’s next, I’ve given myself permission to laugh with my whole body when he rounds a corner strumming his ukulele sized toy guitar in nothing but a diaper; draped in his nine dollar store multicolored Mardi Gras bead strands and kitten ID card carrying “necklace.” For the moment he can’t play anything, but maybe some day he will. Even if he decides music is not for him, I will forever cherish my husband walking into the room gazing at my son in his current preferred get-up asking, “Why does my son look like Mr. T?”
(Hey, if Mr. T is telling me it will be A-Okay, I know everything will be alright.)