December 22, 2009
Fa la la la
A couple days ago, my husband decided it would be a good experience for my two youngest kids to do some community service at the assisted-living facility where my mother-in-law lives. With-a-Why is shy, and when he does volunteer work, he usually chooses something like setting up chairs in an empty room. But Spouse figured he could use music to coax With-a-Why out of his shell.
“We’d love to have your boys come and play some Christmas carols,” the social director said when my husband called.
This afternoon, I coerced the boys into taking showers, and we loaded the keyboard into the car, with With-a-Why complaining. “I need pedals. I can’t do most of my songs on this keyboard.”
“You don’t have to play the kind of music you do for recitals,” I said. “Mostly, the old folks just want to see you having fun.”
Shaggy Hair Boy grabbed a folder of Christmas music, and that’s mostly what the boys ended up playing. The elderly folks started singing along right away, and the social director ran to get a microphone for my husband, who has a beautiful voice and who warms up quickly to an audience who laughs at corny jokes.
It wasn’t a very polished performance. Shaggy Hair Boy kept rooting through the folder of music to find songs, accidentally dumping the whole thing onto the floor at one point. My husband joked with the boys and the residents as they moved from song to song. It was the kind of informal jam session my kids are used to.
When I saw that one woman knew the words to every song, I nudged my husband, and he rolled her wheelchair up to the microphone so they could sing a couple of duets. Shaggy Hair Boy good-naturedly took requests from the audience, even when they weren’t songs he knew very well. He and With-a-Why did a four-handed piece that got a round of applause from the crowd, who by then had figured out that With-a-Why was shy. They loved it when he played some of the score from the Charlie Brown Christmas special. My mother-in-law sat in the front row and looked proud.
“Admit it,” I said to the boys on our way home, “You had a good time. And doesn’t it feel good to know that everyone there enjoyed it?”
“I don’t really like nursing homes,” said Shaggy Hair Boy said.
“No one does,” I said. “That was the point. To make it feel like our living room instead.”
“If the world exploded right now,” Shaggy Hair Boy said, “I’d probably go right to heaven.”
Posted by jo(e)