Sunday, May 18, 2014

field trip: Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn

I occasionally tell Anna we're going somewhere, but I won't tell her where, or what we're doing. So a month ago I planned last night, and we went to see Béla Fleck perform alongside his wife, Abigail Washburn. Abigail is a well-known old-time banjo player and bandleader, and seemed like most of the audience was there to see her; they got a bit of a surprise when Béla was unleashed a couple times, because he is almost certainly the greatest living banjo player, and possibly the greatest ever.

Just to give you a sense of the difference, this is Abigail with her band, playing a typical one of her songs:

She's a great songwriter and singer. But Béla plays like this, when he's just jamming and improvising by himself:

And then this is his band:

So that's interesting, to see a very comfortable rapport between two people with unequal gifts on the same instrument (they focused on Abigail's music). And they are completely adorable--actually reminded us a lot of us.

There was jumping up and down with joy. It was satisfying.

parenting by annoyance.

"Hey, monkey. How was your weekend?"
"What'd you do?"
"Did you go for a hike?"
"Did you play basketball?"
"Did you go water-skiing?"
"No. You know I don't play basketball."
"You're not giving me any information, so I'm going to ask you about every possible thing you could have done this weekend until I find out."
"Oh, okay, fine. I did a bunch of stuff without screens. We went for a couple walks, and we played some non-video games. I read a bunch of books. There, are you satisfied now?"

Sunday, May 11, 2014

you can hear the gears turning

It's common for adults to enjoy kids around age 8-11. Their consciousness expands to more and more include the world beyond themselves, and they start thinking in more sophisticated ways. They become more like adults, in other words. We're just biased, because it gets to be less work to relate to them. (This obviously ends with adolescence and picks up again sometime later.)

J is no exception, filtered through his unique brain wiring. The other day he learned what home-schooling actually means--he's heard the word many times, but the reality of it never quite penetrated. Anna is going to be watching a friend's daughter, and I was blessed to witness the discussion.
"So I'm going to have M during the day on Thursday, and I'm volunteering at school, so you might see her."
"During the school day? Doesn't she have to be in school?"
"She's home-schooled. Her mom is her teacher."
There's a pause while he processes this. If he could, he would be raising one eyebrow and giving Anna a hard look.
"But I still have to go to school?"
Yep, kiddo.

This probably won't get easier once he finds out his cousin is being home-schooled too. We've discussed it, and it's the fallback plan for any unresolvable school situation. Anna and I both had traumatic school experiences, and while we work hard not to project our memories too much onto the much safer realities of the modern public school, we're determined that he not have a traumatic school experience, whatever that takes.

His moods are much more fluid these days, and we can often redirect Angry J into Laughing J without much trouble. The other night we got him laughing and after a few minutes he said, "I wish I could stop laughing so I could go back to being angry." Let's call it a success.

One night he was grumbling about not finding a library book, but it was time to call his father. I get to do these all in a cheerful voice.
"I don't know where it was, and my parents won't help me look for it..."
"We will. Now it's time to call Daddy."
He made it about three steps towards the room with the phone when he got distracted and grumbled back to his room again.
"I don't know where that book is, I'm never going to find it--"
"J, go call Daddy, we'll find the book after that."
This time he didn't even make it out of his room.
"And my parents aren't even listening to me..."
"Less grumbling, more calling Daddy!"
That was awesome enough, but then we could hear him ranting on the phone.
"...and then Chris wouldn't let me look for it! He made me come in here and call you!"
Oh, the tyranny!