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Archive for April, 2012

Street Musicians

April 27, 2012 3 comments

Sure, I love street musicians, I always have. So many times they have made my day. So many times they have changed my mood and the course of my day. Because, suddenly, I felt like…whatever I didn’t feel like doing before: writing, or talking to this or that person, or finishing this up instead of leaving it for tomorrow.

My interaction with them was always brief, how long it took to drop some money into their hat and slowly walk away. A matter of seconds. If I really felt compelled to listen, I stood aside and listened for a minute or two at the most. Then I walked away, even if I wasn’t heading anywhere specifically. Grateful for the gift of music they gave me, I always saw it as a token,¬† not a fully fledged present. After all, I knew I was not at the concert hall, but in the street.

My son doesn’t share my view on street musicians. For him, it’s all music, and he wants it, all of it, right there and then. He wants to absorb every single note, he wants to hold the instruments in his hands and he wants to make music. The same as when we take him to a music venue. He wants to stay until the music dies down, and then longer, hoping he might get a hold of the instruments.

The tactics he uses to approach street musicians are pretty much the same as those he uses when my husband and I take him to a music event of any kind. At first he simply stares, mesmerized, standing a distance away from the musicians. Then, slowly, he gets closer, and closer, and closer. Next, he tries to make an eye contact with a musician hoping he or she will offer to share the instrument. Sometimes he is happy to join the musicians with his harmonica or flute, the two objects we take with us wherever we go.

The only difference I perceive between going to a music event and listening to a street musician, at least from a practical standpoint, is that when we go to a music venue, our plan is to stay there and listen to the music, but when we encounter a street musician, we are usually on our way to somewhere else. I try hard to always honor my son’s love of music. Once I hear music on the street, I know we will have to make a stop. We will have to stay and listen to the music for at least ten minutes. But, many times, especially if we are on our way to a specific destination, after ten minutes of standing on sometimes quite a narrow sidewalk at maybe 30 degrees F or 95 degrees F, I start to plot how to get Andrei away from the music. See that balloon over there? Let’s go touch that big ball! Read more…

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Can I Sit on the Table?

OK, there are things that are important to me, and there are those that are not, or at least not enough to fight for them. In every area of my life, including parenting. Now, in the area of parenting, everything seems to be more complicated, simply because you have the big responsibility of helping this little person grow into a happy and (ideally) emotionally healthy, intellectually curious, and socially well-adjusted human.

When my son hits, I am concerned. When my son throws something because he is angry, I am concerned. Despite the fact that this is age-appropriate behavior, I know it’s my husband’s and my job to teach our son that it’s not acceptable behavior. Time-out is our method of choice. Combined with teaching our son that that there are other ways to deal with or prevent anger: Jump to let off steam. Say, I am not finished playing with the boat; you can have it when I am finished playing with it. Whatever. Hitting or throwing is not acceptable. Period.

On the other hand, I am desperately lax about many other things. Andrei wants to play with … whatever hits his fancy: any kitchen object that’s relatively safe, any object from my desk that’s relatively safe, any object from the bathroom cabinets that’s relatively safe. My answer is always, Sure, you can have that. OK, this tendency of mine has created some problems because nearly every object in our house has become Andrei’s toy. But, in the moment when it’s happening, I so desperately want to support my son’s curiosity and imagination that I simply can’t say NO (unless the object is really dangerous, fragile, etc.).

So this is how I reached a point where I allowed my son to sit on the table. OK, I defined some rules early on: Sitting on the table is not always allowed. Not when we have guests, not during any other meal but breakfast. Mostly when Andrei and I are alone, in the morning, on weekdays. ¬†Andrei always asks first if he can sit on the table, and if I say yes, he gets on the table. He usually sits cross-legged right across from me while we are eating, and talking a bit, and singing a bit…

Why didn’t I say NO the first time Andrei attempted to climb on the table? I guess teaching him manners and appropriateness at his age wasn’t really that important to me. I liked the fact that, independently of me and my arms, my two-and-a-half, three-foot-high son was able to experience a different view of the kitchen. That he was able to dream (I am sitting on the top of a mountain). And, of course, there was the cute factor…

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