Friday, January 13, 2012

Let's hear it for the boy!

(See how tall he's getting?! This was on New Year's day, walking at one of our favorite local parks.)

Each day at our house, we experience another reminder that we now live with a TEENAGER. And each time it's a bit of a surprise. (I wonder when/if this realization will stop being a surprise--his adolescence really kind of snuck up on us, despite the fact that, clearly, we've been living with this child every day since his birth!)

Sometimes it's a bit of Drama, punctuated by a phrase like "You guys just don't understand!" or "You guys never listen to me!" Sometimes there are tears involved, and we parents remember how heartbreaking it was when we felt excluded or confused. Sometimes it's just hearing his voice--it's so deep now that it sounds unfamiliar to me in some moments; people who call us on the phone occasionally think he's his dad!

Yesterday at the dinner table a new sign made its appearance: eye-rolling! My goodness. And last week, after a family dinner in our little downtown, he ditched us to hang out with his friends on First Friday (when the shops are open past 5 or 6). He was part of a roaming pack of teenagers! (We sort of observed at a distance for part of the time and hoped, when they were out of sight, that they were behaving nicely.)

This is all enough to unsettle me from time to time. I catch myself thinking: what happened to my little boy? Wow, that went by way too fast!

(On New Year's day, the post-sleepover scene was all about the xbox (his Xmas present).)

So, in addition to noting the surprises and occasionally difficult bits, it's also good to remember the wonderful parts of being the parents of this particular teenager. One of the things that's remarkable is that he loves music. Okay, yes, I loved music when I was a teenager, too, and it became a way to rebel (gently) against my parents. But our son is rebelling in a very interesting and unexpected way: he loves classical music.

(Here he is at a recital in October 2011--his first, as he just started private lessons this week. Why so orange? Well, it WAS a Halloween concert!)

(On the cello, here & above, is our friend Jonalyn, who is one of the best teachers I've ever witnessed. She leads a bunch of kids, Dexter included, in a string group that accompanies her advanced cello students. Such a good learning experience!)

(Here's the violin section...)

(At summertime rehearsals--actually, most of the year--shoes are optional...)

(... and otherwise Jonalyn's students have good taste in footwear!)

He's been playing violin at school for some years now, and he sings and hums all the time. He makes up songs about our cats and sings to them. He plays music by his favorite composer before bed. He's even become a bit of a music snob: he thinks the strings class at school should be playing more classical music (instead of the pieces they do play, which he thinks are corny).

(Here he is with some of his wacky musician friends after a Christmas 2010 concert at a local church.)

(Here they are playing at a nursing home, Christmas 2010. It's a lovely thing. One of my proudest moments as a parent happened in July 2010, when our normally extremely shy boy played the violin for a dining room full of patients, including Grandpa, at the veterans' hospital in South Dakota.)

(That's him in the middle. I swear I can't get a good photo of him at his concerts... I have dozens of out-of-focus ones like this! no flash + far away seats + moving people = bad photos!)

So parenthood still teaches us new things every day, and seeing the world through our son's eyes is still an adventure, even as he becomes more and more independent. Amazing.

May you enjoy a surprising change today (only the good kind)!


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