For the past few weeks, the girls and I have been watching episodes of From the Top. It is series on PBS (which we watch online). Each week, young, extremely talented musicians gather on stage at Carnegie Hall to be interviewed and play a piece with pianist Chris O'Riley.
My children are glued to these shows. They get so caught up in the passion of each performance, I sometimes catch them clapping furiously at the end. (I catch myself doing it sometimes, too.) Sometimes, I stand in the background and watch the performances and find myself getting teary, as memories of my musical childhood come flooding back. Memories of the man that walked me through my musical journey from my tender elementary years all the way to high school. His story, our story deserves more attention than I ever give it.
I know exactly what those young performers are feeling as they close their eyes and sway and get lost in the music. As they sing it in their heart and play it with their hands. I know and remember exactly what that feels like.
Last week, after the girls finished an episode, I quickly jumped right in to dinner prep. I was feeling behind. School time had overflowed into "get dinner ready" time. I had company coming for supper, my kitchen was still torn apart, I still had so many things to do in order to get it ready by the time they arrived.
The girls quickly scurried out of the wake of my kitchen chaos and found shelter in the dining room. I heard them rustling through papers, scooting chairs across the hardwood floor, but I didn't pay much attention. I was in a rush.
After several minutes, I realized that there was no way I was going to be able to get this done on my own. From the kitchen I called for Emma, "Emma! I really need your help in here. Can you please at least come and get all your school books off the kitchen table? And then help me make a salad?"
I stopped for a second to be sure she had heard to me, to listen for her response.
I'm so glad I stopped. I'm so glad I listened.
In response, all I heard was the piano. Notes, some beautiful, some not so much, floating out of the dining room and into the kitchen. Her sister turning the pages of music spread before her. I peeked through the pass-through window of the pantry to spy her at the piano–hunched over the keys, eyes closed, hands poised and dramatic. Her sisters clapped furiously at the conclusion of her song. Mary announced, "That was the wonderful Emma Balint on piano!! And now, I will play a beautiful song for you." They switched places at the piano and Mary climbed up on to the stool.
I interrupted them for a moment, "Emma did you hear me just calling you?"
"Yes. I just wanted to finish."
"Emma. Never mind. Keep playing. I'll finish."
"Are you sure?? Are you mad?"
"No, absolutely not. Keep playing. I love it."
I turned off the radio in the kitchen so that their performances would seep into my hurried world of cooking and dishes and table-setting.
I am so glad that I let them be. I am so glad I stopped and noticed that moment. I am so glad that I realized sometimes, their play is more important than my frustration and overwhelmed moments.
Let them play. Let them play.