Like the other day when Ian brought the kids over to the violin store for a visit after a trip to the zoo. Mona came in proudly holding up the newly acquired shark that we were missing from our Mold-a-Rama collection, which was good. But then Quinn followed that up with an alligator from the reptile house! A thirteenth Mold-a-Rama that hadn't been on the map! A bonus Mold-a-Rama.
I feel like despite some ups and downs lately, I've been lucky to have a bonus thrown in here and there when I wasn't expecting it. A little bit of bonus goes a long, long way.
For instance, the dinner in Chicago was fun. Too short because I was late, but fun. (I often wonder why we don’t go down and do things in Chicago since it’s not that far away, and then I hit the traffic and try to park and think, “Oh yeah....” Our kids may finally have enough stamina to attempt day trips there by train, though, so that may make such adventures possible soon.)
I missed most of the food, and I didn’t get to talk directly to the women at the other end of the table, but I did get to meet the remarkable Stacey Conner in person which alone made the whole trip worthwhile. The bonus was to come away with a sense of how many other truly remarkable women are out there.
Women are too modest about their talents and achievements in my opinion. We’re taught to be self-depricating so that we remain likable. There should be some way to publicly take pride in our accomplishments without fearing we are crossing the line into arrogance. What is it about women and girls basking in a moment of personal glory that makes people want to take them down a peg in a way that doesn’t apply to men and boys? The result is many of us overlooking some amazing people all around us. Every woman at that table in Chicago was interesting and funny and intelligent. I could have happily spent the evening talking with any one of them.
String Camp went well. The quartet I coached played nicely and I was very proud of them. I think another day or two of rehearsal and the piece could have been really great, but as it was they didn’t fall apart and they were mostly in tune so I’ll chalk it up as a success. I really enjoyed working with such terrific kids.
I've been at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music long enough that I've seen a lot of changes and watched many people come and go. When I started there back in 1996 the building was a wreck. The paint was peeling, the heat didn't work in some rooms, and it was all cluttered and neglected. Then came the multimillion dollar renovation and now the building is dazzling but expensive to maintain. There is a light fixture the likes of which I've never seen anywhere else that was discovered all blackened with soot and crammed in the back of one of the abandoned fireplaces in the building when they cleaned everything out. It's a basket full of glass fruit, and now it hangs in the board room where we hold our post-concert receptions. It was one of many interesting little extras unearthed during that renovation.
But the bonus for me at this year's String Camp was getting to be a parent of someone there in addition to being a teacher. I loved driving to the school every morning with Aden. I loved seeing her make friends and I got to coach her during sectionals. But the most fun was getting to sit next to her on the stage during the concert. The faculty help fill out the sections for the final performance, so I got to play in an orchestra with my sweet girl and it was wonderful.
I think the bonus for Aden was that for the final number of the show with the fiddle class players she was asked to wear a cowboy hat, so I lent her a beautiful one that my brother bought me in Austin a few years ago.
I can't believe how much my baby is growing up.
I'm forever surprised and pleased by the bonuses that continue to come with parenting. At each stage when I'm maybe expecting something to be hard or easy or sometimes just different, there are always additional moments or insights or gifts that I never knew were coming tossed in.
Life is never by the book. But how lucky I am that there is so much beauty and unexpected joy in the footnotes and scribbled in the margins.
Bonus blog post photo: Mona's collection of dragons on the living room white board. (I wish she'd do more work like this in a form I could frame and keep, but maybe it's fortunate to have one fewer thing to store?)