Last week I had the pleasure of attending an all district strings concert in which Henry, the 10 year old, played the cello.
It was an amazing night.
Not because of the music.
The music was fine but, to be honest, I was bored out of my mind half way through. Plus, my back hurt from sitting on the plastic bleachers too long and I thought I might pass out from the heat at one point. (1000 children and their significant others are too many people for a smallish stuffy gymnasium)
The amazing part of the night was looking out from the audience and seeing two of the girls that Henry was in play group with out there with their string instruments and their white tops and black pants and their hair done up with pretty barrettes. I watched all three of them as they intently read their music and moved their bows over the strings and waited semi-patiently, fanning themselves with their sheet music, as the other classes finished their songs. As I watched them I recalled our play groups that began before the children could sit up on their own. I remembered the wooden puzzle pieces and blocks that were strewn about the house after everyone left. I remembered the banana bread I liked to make when the group came to my house and the camaraderie I felt with all the other new parents.
At some point during the concert evening I saw the two dads of these two girls notice each other, I watched as they slapped each other on the back in a "guy hug" and chatted for a while, periodically looking out towards their girls and nodding their heads and smiling. The scene brought to mind the earnest discussions we parents had during those play groups regarding sleep habits and eating habits and disciplinary habits.
I was enjoying this concert moment and the awe and wonder I was feeling regarding our 10 year old musician children and the two dad's bonding over them. I wondered how we could have gotten to this place, this concert, so fast. Weren't we just at some one's house debating the merits of attachment parenting and wondering at what week would they begin to sleep through the night?
As much as I was enjoying the moment I have to admit my old familiar question reared its ugly head, creeping into my consciousness.
Why wasn't Bob down there with the other dads, slapping them on the back? Why don't I get to see his proud face light up a little bit when he looks out across the crowd and catches a glimpse of Henry?
A lot has happened since those early days of the play group: divorce, illness, death, financial struggles, career ups and downs, more babies, no more babies, moves, second marriages.
If we knew then what we know now......
I want a do over.
Some of those earnest discussions we had back then seem rather silly to me now.
I want to go back to those play group days and I want to worry less about things like sleep habits. I would give up a lot of sleep to be able to see Bob walking and rocking a fussy newborn Henry in the middle of the night, with the light from the moon framing the both of them, just one more time.
A line from the Peter Himmelman song "Kneel Down" runs through my mind;
"Erase all trace of apprehension,
there is time enough to have no time at all."
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