My girls just had their big end of the season choir concert on Sunday and their final rehearsal for the season this week. Aden’s been singing with the Milwaukee Children’s Choir for three years now, Mona for two. They both have pretty voices that sound even prettier together. They both sing to themselves around the house every day.
playing games or biking around the block. They don’t like the hassle of having to be carted off to an activity.
I know exactly how they feel. I have a terrible time tearing myself
away from the kids after work to go to mandolin orchestra rehearsal, and
subsequently I’m always late because I literally have to peel Quinn or
Mona or all of them off me to leave so it takes me longer to get out the
door without feeling like a bad mom. (Luckily the mandolin orchestra
is a forgiving group.)
I reminded my girls of how much they always enjoy choir once they get there, the same way I’m always happy to go play my mandola
even though it’s hard to want to leave our home to do it. But they are
tired of the structure. They love to sing, they like the people, but
they don’t like uniforms, they don’t like standing for a long time or
waiting for the other choir groups to finish singing at the concerts.
So we’ll see. After a summer break they may change their minds, but I’m
not going to push it. I’m glad they’ve had the experience of
performing on a stage in front of a large audience and being part of a
polished show. Aden has the option of being in the 4th-8th grade choir
at her school next year and that may be a better fit for her, and maybe
it’s time to sign Mona up for something new. I think she’d really enjoy
So knowing it may be their last big choir event together I teared up
more than usual at this concert. Something about children singing can
be so moving it’s hard to describe. They are their most endearing
selves when they sing, without any of the obnoxious messy bits that can
be so frustrating. Sort of like how perfect they seem when they are
sleeping and you wonder how they could ever provoke you into yelling or needing a break from them.
The youngest choir sang first, and my favorite song was “Make New
Friends” which they did as a round. That had me crying enough that
Quinn who was in my lap wanted to know what was wrong. (I told him they
were good tears, but he looked doubtful.) They ended their set with a
creative version of “This Old Man” that made everyone laugh. I was
impressed with how complicated some of the music they tackled this year
In the second half of the program the more advanced choir sang two pieces composed by Paul Caldwell who
was there to conduct them in person. He talked movingly about a little
girl who survived the genocide in Rwanda who inspired the pieces, and
how he wanted to write a lullaby for refugees who had no one to sing to
them. If that doesn’t make you weepy nothing will. All of it was
beautiful, and frankly a nice show even if you didn’t have a kid of your
own up on the stage to admire.
Also this last weekend we visited the little fair that sets up in a
parking lot a couple of blocks from our home for a couple of days every
year in May. It’s small but flashy. There’s a big slide and and
tilt-a-whirl, a couple of stands where you can win prizes and spot where
you can buy funnel cakes. It’s the kind of event that can quickly turn
from simple fun into nightmare with little kids. The lights and the
music and the rides and the cheap toys are so attractive for about
twenty minutes, but it’s expensive and nauseating and wears kids out
fast so we have to be careful not to go over that hump into disaster
The only heart wrenching moment was when Mona wanted to win a toy
frog. There is a game called the Duck Pond, where you pay three dollars
and you get to choose three plastic ducks. On the bottom of each duck
is a number, and whatever total the three ducks add up to determines
which prize you get. Mona won an odd floppy tiger thing the first time
when just the two of us were visiting the fair. Later that evening when
we returned as a whole family, Aden won a similar floppy tiger and
Quinn won a blue, very flammable looking dog. Mona voiced her desire to
try the Duck Pond game again because she was smitten with the stuffed
frogs in one of the prize bins, but she didn’t beg or whine. She seldom
asks for anything and she was being so good I told her I would give her
another three dollars to try again, but that she should know that the
odds of her winning the toy she wanted were very small. She accepted
that and was very excited to try one more time, and promised not to
complain if she didn’t win the frog.
Of course she didn’t draw the right numbers to win the frog, and she
was so disappointed she burst into tears and buried her face against her
dad. He told her he was sorry, but that that was how the game worked.
She said she knew and tried not to cry.
She did not beg or complain. Mona was not trying to manipulate anyone
and she fully accepted that she got what she got, but the loss hit her
hard and it was obvious her tears were genuine.
The Duck Pond lady simply handed her the frog.
Aside from that brief bout of tears there was no downside to the
fair. The Dizzy Dragons made us dizzy. The slide was slide-y. The
funnel cakes were as delicious as they were bad for us.
And the added bonus was that on the second night of the fair, after
the choir concert, Aden used her own money from her piggy bank. I don’t
mean bonus because I didn’t have to pay (although that was nice), I
mean I got to see Aden at her best. She doesn’t really have expenses at
nine, and she doesn’t have a lot of opportunities to spend money
she gets in her birthday cards, so she was excited to use some of it,
and she used it on her siblings. She bought Mona a ticket for the Dizzy
Dragons so they could go on together, and she gave Quinn a ticket to
ride the little car carousel. Then she bought a funnel cake to take
home for everyone to share. I found that really touching. Aden drives
me up the wall when she drags her feet or doesn’t do her homework or
pick up her stuff, but she’s one of the dearest people I know.
It’s so nice when something that is supposed to be fun actually is
fun. There are so many things that seem like a good idea until the
reality of navigating them sets in. So many outings with kids turn into
adventures in using public toilets or futile exercises in compromise
among siblings. This year’s trip to the fair was perfect, frog tears
(Side note: This series of photos has me noticing Mona’s new trend
of smiling with no upper lip. I suppose it’s a step up from the old cute face pose, but I look forward to the return of that lip someday.)