Friday, August 13, 2010

What I Will Miss

I read somewhere that it costs a million-gajillion-gabillion dollars to raise a child from birth to age 18. This is an approximate figure, but our experience bears out its accuracy.

Of all the money we have spent to raise all these children all these years, though, one discretionary expense I've never regretted has been the expense of music.

It is not an inconsequential amount. This is the mathematical equation:

(4 boys x piano lessons) + (1 boy x trombone lessons) + (1 boy x violin lessons) + (1 boy x trumpet lessons) + (1 boy x French horn lessons) + (2 x trombones) + (1 x trumpet) + camps + miscellaneous = $4 million-gajillion-gabillion (minus snacks)

Of course, on the plus side of the equation is the self-knowledge I gained during the earliest years of piano lessons. That was when I sat down to "help" Boy#1 practice and we both ended up in tears. Every day. I knew at that point I could not possibly homeschool. I managed to minimize the musical trauma until Boy#4 started piano, two years after I had gone back to work full-time.

"You're really lucky," I overheard Boy#1 telling Four. "You don't have Mom yelling 'COUNT! COUNT! ONE-TWO-THREE!' from the kitchen while you're practicing."

(In my defense, how in the world can you not HEAR that songs don't normally change time signatures six times in two lines?)

We persisted past the painful early years, though, and eventually continuing in music became the Boys' decisions and not their parents'. Each found his own musical niche.

Boy#4 claimed that the best time to practice piano was at 10 p.m., after homework was done and I had gone to bed. The sounds of Hanon and scales, then "Claire de Lune" and Schumann, became my favorite lullaby.

Boy#2 discovered that his deepest college friendships were forged in the furnace of scorching two-a-day August marching band practices, and Boy#3 became a music major at my alma mater.

This fall we'll be following three Boys in two university marching bands. We'll set the DVR to rewind game tapes for any glimpses of the trombone section, and the horn section, and the tuba section. We'll shriek "There he is!" and marvel that a football game bookends this wonderful concert.

It's a moment that makes the $4 million-gajillion-gabillion investment worthwhile.

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