by Kevin Burton
Somewhere between the art of science and the science of art, I dropped the ball and missed a moment.
The girls were up from Oklahoma between Christmas and New Years Eve. The girls are our now-ten-year-old granddaughter on my wife’s side and her five-year-old step sister by living arrangement, not by marriage.
God help me, I don’t know the proper words for all that (common-law sister?) so I will just call them the girls.
The girls were up for a visit and both of them wanted me to play my keyboard and sing. My wife said they had been talking about it on the car trip up.
“He’s very talented,” said the ten-year-old to the five-year-old.
Sometime after they arrived and had lunch, they asked me to play, in the impatient way of small children, like right now.
I was balancing my checkbook when the younger girl asked if I would just drop everything and play.
“Yes, but later.: I told them.
“See, I told you,” said the worldly-wise older girl.
I didn’t want to be like a radio they could turn on and off. I didn’t think it was a good idea to leave them with the impression that this was an option. I didn’t want to make myself subject to the attention span and whims of a five-year-old.
I wanted to and intended to play, to encourage them to study and love music.
The visit was to be about three days. So I planned with my wife that we would all have music time after I got home from work the next day.
“After work and before the Shockers,” I said. My wife agreed.
But then that night the younger girl had a bad reaction to one of her new medications. We had to call my stepson and his girlfriend to come up and get the girls. I was sound asleep when they packed up the girls and returned them to Oklahoma. I didn’t even get to say goodbye.
So I never got the chance to play for them.
We have them sometimes, but not a whole lot. This visit turned out to be less than a day.
At some point in the night, I heard my wife crying softly. She was so disappointed. That cut me to the quick.
Had I dropped everything and played something for the girls, they may have been distracted by something one of the cats did, or whatever else caught their eye, and forgotten about me completely, ignored whatever I sang. Such is the attention span of little girls.
Still, I can’t help thinking I missed a moment. And you only get so many moments. You can’t manufacture moments the way you do rock and roll songs.
And once the kids grow older, they are less and less likely to be interested in anything I say or do.
And God knows nobody else is clamoring to hear me play music.
Many have an even bigger lament along these lines, when a loved one dies before they have said what they needed to say. I thank God that wasn’t true in this case.
There is a time to every purpose under heaven, reads the book of Ecclesiastes. Even those who don’t read the Bible know there is a balancing act to life.
There is a time to go barefoot and a time to wear sensible shoes. I don’t always know the difference in time to make the right choice.
There is some art to child rearing and some science I suppose. I opted out of that class altogether, chose not to have any children. So I don’t speak that language. My wife serves as my interpreter.
You can balance your checkbook any time. I plan to have it all tidied up before the girls come back on spring break in March. If they don’t make time to hear my music, it will sting a little but it will serve me right.