My oldest son loved the adulation he received when his elementary school band totally rocked "Blitzkrieg Bop" at the 5th grade talent show. He was relishing in pre-pubescent punk; I thought he'd found his bliss. But early last year, at the beginning of 8th grade, my budding Ramone told me he was ready to quit bass guitar lessons. A bit surprised, I asked him why. He told me that while he liked the camaraderie of being in a band, and really liked going shopping at the St. Vincent DePaul resale shop for gig-worthy attire, he just wasn't that into music.
Not into music? What the heck did that mean? I could understand not being into classical music, and preferring Top 40. Or vice versa. But not being into music at all? And then it dawned on me. As much as I hate to admit it"-I'd prefer to be seen as at least mildly cultured-- I just wasn't that into music either.
As a kid I loved going to see musicals, but I never once came home and listened to the score. Piano lessons lasted all of six months for me, which was probably five months longer than they should have. I saw Bruce Springsteen in concert twice during high school. I wish I could say it was because the "Thunder Road" lyrics had touched my soul. But to be honest, the real reason I went was the secret hope The Boss would pull me on stage just like he did Courtney Cox in the "Dancing in the Dark" video. I'm not sure why I didn't realize this could never happen from the 32nd row.
Even in college, when friends were cultivating an interest in The Smiths and The Jesus & Mary Chain, I was content to "Walk Like an Egyptian" across the sticky floor of a frat party. I wanted to look like Susanna Hoffs"but never particularly wanted to play guitar like her.
I rarely sang lullabies to my kids when they were babies; I've never liked the sound of my singing voice and was afraid neither would they. We never owned much Raffi or Laurie Berkner, or Ralph's World . We left a pre-school music class after just one session because I was unable to keep my 18-month-old from getting up from the "singing circle" to turn off the teacher's CD player.
I wish my son hadn't given up bass. And I recognize I might have been part of the problem. If I had to do it all over again, I'd stick it out in the toddler music class. Or at least wait until the teacher kicked us out instead of quitting. I'd make a point of singing "Hush Little Baby" a few more times.
And I'd definitely take him to more all-family appropriate live music events like the one coming up on Saturday, October 23 at the High Noon Saloon (http://www.high-noon.com/). On that day, Canopy Center Healing and Family Support Services is hosting its first, and hopefully annual fundraiser, "Band Together For Kids" featuring the Wisconsin Disco Superstars, VO5.
This is the Canopy Center's opportunity to raise awareness of and funds for their programming which provides vital counseling to over 4,000 parents and their at-risk children each year in Dane County. Canopy operates the Parent Stressline and the Oasis group treatment program for families who have experienced childhood sexual abuse. With "Band Together" Madison-area families have the chance to shake their collective booties in hopes of ending the cycle of family violence.
Perhaps my son and I do have an excuse to once again to visit our favorite resale shop. But this time we'll check out white polyester ala Saturday Night Fever, funky leisure suits and glittery bell-bottoms instead of punk attire.
Maybe at the event I can convince him to sit in on a cover of Chic's "Good Times" "it has a pretty awesome bass line. And maybe, just maybe, he will pull me up on stage. Because even if we aren't as into music as I'd like us to be, we are into it enough to "disco for a difference" in the lives of kids.comments powered by Disqus
Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."
As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.
Seeing Romeo and Juliet this past weekend was a definite reminder that I need to prepare for something that might resemble a (Near) West Side Story around our place pretty soon.
All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.
Last January, when temperatures dipped below minus 30 and most people between the ages of 16 and 24 did anything to stay inside, a small yet sturdy group of at-risk teenage boys and young men stacked wood and managed controlled burns at Festge County Park near Cross Plains. Five months later, following a temperature swing of more than 100 degrees, Isthmus found some of those same guys removing invasive honeysuckle and buckthorn at Lake View Hill County Park on Madison's north side.
The first week of summer break at our place usually comes and goes without incident. At times, one could argue, it even verges on pleasant. I have no school lunches to pack and the kids have no 7 a.m. buses to catch.
Have you tried getting anywhere on either Verona Road or East Johnson lately? I'm pretty sure a six-month old could crawl to Fitchburg, or across the isthmus, in less time that it takes me to drive there these days.
As soon as the door closed behind him, I poured myself a cup of the coffee he had made and took a moment to let the enormity of what just happened sink in. My son was ready that morning despite my inability to properly set an alarm clock. My kid was ready that morning without nudging, cajoling, or reminding. He was ready, even when I wasn't.
For the past 17 years or so (i.e., since I've had kids), I haven't made books the priority in my life I know they should be. It's not that I don't try. Just this past weekend I had the best of intentions of picking up, and even finishing, I am Malala, this year's UW-Madison's Go Big Read pick. But the copy still sits untouched on my nightstand.
The longest day of the year is upon us. For those of you keeping track, the sun will rise at 5:18 a.m. and set at 8:41 p.m. on Saturday, June 21. All that daylight, courtesy of the annual summer solstice, will provide the perfect backdrop for Make Music Madison, a daylong event featuring hours and hours of free performances in nearly every corner of the city.
Last week, for the first time, I made my way up to one of the open gallery nights during Madison West's Fine Arts Week, the school's annual showcase for all things creative. The scope of the event is huge, with nearly 1,600 students participating, and the quality of the presented works is phenomenal. It's almost as if the school had been lifted off its perch on Regent Street and traveled back in time to Belle Époque Paris.
If you have aspiring authors in your house, this summer offers a fabulous opportunity for them refine their writing skills. For its second summer, the Greater Madison Writing Project, in partnership with Olbrich Botanical Gardens, is sponsoring two week-long camps in August for young writers entering grades 3-8.
There are lots of benefits to living in a college town. First and foremost, there is always something going on -- a lecture, a film series. Maybe even a protest, if you're lucky. And since becoming a Madisonian, I, for the first time in my life, find myself interested in college football.
My passion for the talent show clearly runs deep, but I'm more than just a fangirl. This year marked my second as one of the "Ziegfelds" of the Follies, Hamilton's annual showcase for singers, musicians, dancers and other varied forms of entertainment. Trust me, when you are part of the spectacle's "producing/directing" team you get a new-found appreciation for how hard the kids worked to get up on stage.
My daughter, who turned twelve just this past week, is not legally "of age" when it comes to social media. But I guess, in many respects, especially in those that involve screens, I am a permissive pushover. I've allowed her join some networks.
What adults love about camping -- sleeping under the stars, getting away from it all, the sounds of nature -- can be scary for children. It's dark in a tent. Nothing is familiar. Of course, camping with kids is more work for adults, too. Stay cool, live in the moment. Forget about that lost fork. Making s'mores, spotting wildlife, that's what kids will remember.
I have just returned from a whirlwind, five-day, four-city college tour with my son. You know those "101 Things to Know Before Visiting Disney World" guidebooks that experienced theme park travelers have written to help the uninitiated? I think I am now officially seasoned enough in information sessions and campus tours to give some serious thought to penning a similar "insiders guide" for the junior-year parent.
This past week, against both my will and better judgement, I accompanied 50 or so middle school kids to the Future Problem Solvers Wisconsin State Bowl, a popular academic and skit-writing competition.
It may be a bigger waste of breath than electricity to ask my kids to turn off the lights when they leave a room. If I've nagged them once, I've nagged them a thousand times. No, I've never noticed anything amiss with their fingers. But it appears they are physically incapable of flipping a switch to the "off" position.
I want to say thank you to the Board of Education for allowing Maia to return to class, unquestionably the place she belongs, as well as to thank them for adopting the new policies. But just as importantly, I also want to thank Maia and her family for their willingness to come forward with their story.