Usually, I go up to the apartment on Wednesday evenings to spend time with my older kids: we eat Chinese food and watch Glee. But this week was so busy that we waited until Friday night, and they came home. Evenings have gotten dark and cold, so I built a fire. My husband was out of town, so it was nice to have the company of my four kids, plus two of my nieces.
Beautiful Smart Wonderful Daughter had a stack of quizzes she was grading, and she sat on the floor in front of the fire, marking them up. She, Boy in Black, and I are all teaching first year students this semester. “In the Physics department, we have grading parties,” said Boy in Black. “Well, it’s not really a party, but we sit around and grade all day, and the professor brings food.” That actually sounded like more fun than the solitary grading we writing teachers usually do.
Shaggy Hair Boy and Blonde Niece sat on the couch, re-formatting Blonde Niece’s computer. “It’s going to take awhile,” Shaggy Hair Boy said. Blonde Niece decided to kill some time by baking, and soon the whole room smelled like warm brownies. Red-haired Niece arrived with some board games.
With-a-Why sat down at the piano. I’d left my music – the song I’ve been struggling with for weeks – open on the piano. It’s a Christmas song: Away in the Manager. I can play the right hand just fine, and the left hand just fine, but putting my hands together makes my head explode. Piano Teacher keeps assuring me that I’ll get it eventually.
So anyhow, With-a-Why sat down, glanced at this music he’s never played before, and played it beautifully.
“That’s so unfair,” I said to him. “I’ve been practicing that music FOR WEEKS, and I can’t get it right.”
“How’s it unfair?” he asked, his finger still moving lightly and gracefully over the keys. “I’ve been playing the piano for years. It’s entirely fair that I play better than you.”
“Hey, that song sounds … just a little bit familiar,” Shaggy Hair said, snickering. “Is THAT what you’ve been trying to be play, Mom?”
“I don’t think so,” said Boy in Black, grinning. “That’s nothing like what Mom’s been playing.”
Shaggy Hair Boy loves to tease me – as do all the young men of the household — but I have to admit that he’s also been completely supportive of my piano playing. When I’m practicing, he’ll say, “It’s getting better all the time.” He says things he’s learned from Piano Teacher. “Just take it slow.”
I don’t know what time the gang of young people all went to bed, but I ended up going upstairs sometime after midnight. I could hear the conversations and laughter still going on downstairs. By then Shaggy Hair Boy had taken his usual seat on the piano bench, playing jazz as I drifted off to sleep.