Izzy and Caroline participated in a music competition. Izzy took first place in her division and Caroline got an honorable mention. Somehow, this discrepancy went over peacefully...aided in part because Caroline loved the color of her ribbon, and also because she loves her sister.
But she is spoiling to win, that girl. She keeps asking: what does it take? What do I have to do to win one of these things?
Oh...what is the right answer here? Should I talk about how it is already a victory, just being prepared to get on that stage? Or how it is a victory of character, learning to accept defeat without being defeated? Should I wax jaded and world weary and tell her about the biases of some judges?
Honestly, I didn't feel like telling her any of those things. I already think she works pretty hard at her cello. I guess she could do more. But I prefer the balance in her life which allows her to love many things, to come to her cello willingly and work hard during practice time, to enjoy volleyball, reading, writing, baking, and making paper dolls.
I will tell you this--some of the kids participating in music competitions today are working so hard, I'm not sure where their childhood fits into the picture. And while I am a mother with expectations, I cannot even pretend to want to put my girls into the saddle which gallops at the pace necessary to keep up.
And little Caroline played beautifully on her cello. She got up there in front of those three stone faced judges, who don't smile or acknowledge the contestants, and did her thing. I watched them both with an aching in my throat, which I always get when something is unbearably beautiful or sad.
Her teacher attended and texted me to say Izzy played like an angel...something about that really touched me, as if she understood my disappointment in not being there and wanted to share some of the joy of the moment.
I could write a zillion blog posts and never be able to express how much I love Izzy's teacher. She is highly skilled, tough yet nurturing, loves animals and has a menagerie in her home, and devotes herself to her students.
I count her influence on Izzy as one of our greatest blessings.
And Izzy's accompanist. I adore her. You should see her hands. You should watch her play...anything. I know enough about music to see her brain works very differently than mine does when she looks at a musical score--she has a way of breaking it down, of recognizing patterns and rhythms in pieces she has never played before. She reads music in a very advanced way, perhaps in a mathematical way, yet plays with the soul of a poet.
So much talent in this world. So many people making it a beautiful place. I know there is sorrow, too. I see it around me every day, it is too easy to find.
But it is beauty that captures and keeps me. I see it everywhere, even in the things which make me sad.