I found a moment of joy during my son’s final elementary school winter concert. James plays trumpet, but it wasn’t during the band’s songs that I found joy: it happened during the orchestra’s rendition of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.”
This symphony of joy suddenly took on new meaning for me while I tried to fight back the tears. “Ode to Joy” might as well have been named “Ode to James.” because James, a 5th grader, will move on to middle school next year. This concert felt like a bittersweet end to a chapter in his childhood.
From the time he awoke on concert day, James focused on delivering a great performance. He practiced a little, cleaned his trumpet, and with a bit of coaxing got dressed. Wearing black jeans, a freshly pressed, white button-down shirt with a blue-black striped tie, and flashy, black-and-red “kicks” (Man U colors, of course) he looked like a handsome, young man. The curls on his head remained wild and untamed, but he didn’t care; that’s just the way he rolls.
Where have all the moments gone?
I remember attending past concerts when James played violin and cello (not Ceelo – for all you “Voice fans”) and sang in the chorus. Over the years I’ve endured bleating horns, dreadful wails of string instruments played by tiny, unskilled fingers, and a howling pooch. However, with good teaching, practice, and an instrument swap, James improved. Alas, he did not inherit his musical ability from me, and I question his Dad’s genes since Rob doesn’t sing, dance, or play an instrument. During homework breaks, and on a whim, James will pick up his trumpet to practice “Festival of Lights” or “Jingle Bells” and then unceremoniously blow out the spit that’s accumulated in the instrument. He’ll sing to Maroon 5’s “Payphone” or repeat a few lines from LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” several times a day. He’s a tilt-a-whirl of energy – kicking a soccer ball, throwing a football, shuffling, tumbling, and racing around the house with Beck.
“I don’t have an off button,” James told me, when I poked him in the ribs searching for it one day. He can be exasperating, however, I didn’t want to shut him down. It’s fun to watch him learn, grow, explore, and express himself.
I have found joy and satisfaction in these all too brief moments
There was joy and meaning everywhere I looked in the a school auditorium: two girls holding hands while singing, a boy introducing the music we would soon hear, and a father’s exuberant applause. The concert experience was yet another rite of passage in this brief and shrinking pie of childhood I’ve had the privilege to witness.
I rewind my memories, shuffle, and queue them to play again. I won’t forget last night’s “Ode to James”– I’ve filed it in my memory palace of joy.