Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"Bahms" Away

My brood 

In true Elise fashion, my daily spin back down Memory Lane tends to accentuate my Mommy Disasters: the Lyme disease I totally missed (sorry, Evan!), the teen rules bent out of sheer exhaustion (it wasn’t easy to enforce an 11 PM curfew when both Steve and I were snoozing on the sofa by 10) and the list goes on. My stock response when people kindly remark on our fairly upstanding and decent grown children: “Thanks, but it was all God and luck. I had almost nothing to do with it.” And I still believe that is factual, but…

I think I may have done something right when I exposed the kids to classical music. Mind you, I was NO musician, but I adored Schumann and Copland and Barber and Ravel. Their sublime music was the soundtrack of my more serene moments: rapt in a concert hall, playing in the background as I read on the porch summer evenings. I never in my wildest dreams thought my offspring would have the interest or talent to pursue music, which was fine with me. I would have been content to have them just enjoy.

When Sheridan was a baby he heard classical music all the time. I had no clue if any of this was registering until an adult asked him, at age 3, his favorite music. “Bahms (Brahms)!” he caroled.  Cute, but true.

A bedtime ritual in our house was the playing (in the dark) of cassette story tapes (after reading MANY  sleepytime books, of course). There was a whole series by Jim Weiss based on Greek Myths and Arabian Nights and Sherlock Holmes and Shakespeare that I recall fondly. The kids also loved Jay O’Callaghan’s “Herman and Marguerite.” A real favorite was “Beethoven Lives Upstairs,” a fun and fanciful look at the life of the great composer.  This tape was one of the inspirations for Sheridan to begin composing at a tender age, writing musical notes on everything (including church bulletins). And that great love has continued to this day: Sheridan and Rosie have careers in music, Evan moonlights as a jazz pianist in clubs when away from his Naval duties, PJ and Julie both play piano and thoroughly enjoy musical masterworks.

Could they have gone the sports route? Sure! Steve is a real sports nut and the children grew up watching sports on TV, playing intramural soccer, basketball and baseball, attending the occasional pro game. I know many families for whom sports is the touchstone, the rallying point, the family inspiration, and that’s great. We all of us need something transcendent to get us through the daily drudgery, something true and beautiful and beyond our regular existence.

If you haven’t already done it, I encourage you to find a family passion, be it travel or art or cooking or great books. Revel in it together, and in so doing ramp up the quality of your lives.

For us, the passion was “Bahms.” What will it be for you?

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