Friday, December 16, 2011

Holiday Concerts, Mariah Carey, Flourishes, Morality and Handicapped Placards

So, last night I attended Henry's winter wonderland music concert. The performances were outstanding, and the musical talent at our little charter middle school is so great as to make one's mouth hang open in admiration. Henry, though, is not a boy of musical talent or even persuasion. He only "performed" as part of the chorus, and that was mandatory. What I didn't know is that a quartet of provocative and seriously talented chanteuses in the seventh grade had enticed him into a small role in their performance of "All I Want for Christmas is You."
Remember that song?

Help me Rhonda for posting a Mariah Carey video -- not my favorite (let's just say you won't see this video posted as a Carol of the Day, either), but it goes with the story, so humor me. And Mariah.

Anyhoo. Guess who the YOU was in the song?

Henry, my very handsome, effortlessly self-possessed and sweet boy, gave the singing chanteuse a little swagger (as part of the act) when she reached out her operatic arms toward him in the final line and walked off the stage. Everyone chuckled in the audience and then clapped wildly at the talent of the girls' voices -- which were amazing. I have to say that it's both thrilling and bewildering to have this beautiful son who, apparently, is a bit of a chick magnet and is also at ease with being one -- so at ease that he can perform in a musical performance without opening his mouth to sing. As one of my friends noted, Henry was the exploited and objectified male beefcake in the performance. It's thrilling and bewildering because in the seventh grade I was outrageously awkward -- let's say even ugly. I was painfully skinny (those were the days), wore big metal braces on my teeth and goggle glasses with rose-tinted lenses. My hair was short and curling-ironed into hideous "wings" that made me look more like Chachi  from Happy Days than Farrah Fawcett. I was a brainy, non-athletic, Carpenters and John Denver-loving geek. And as those of you who know, this is something that one never forgets or gets over. So, when I look at Henry I feel at once thrilled and bewildered. Where did he come from? Who made this kid? Certainly not me or my efforts!

Anywho. On to the next concert, which was Oliver's, this morning.

We had a rough morning here -- the usual and the not so usual. I was alone with all three kiddos and not at my best. I still can't really talk, so I can't yell, and everyone was running late and no one seemed appreciative of the fact that I'd made approximately twenty loaves of pumpkin chocolate chip bread and wrapped each one individually for teachers and aides and I'd also put hundreds of chocolate kisses into little cellophane bags for teachers and aides and therapists (O.K., I wasn't expecting Sophie to be appreciative); I'd toasted some bagels for breakfast and was marshaling lunches and so forth and then somewhere in the chaos, I fell apart (maybe it was when Oliver appeared twenty minutes after I'd woken him in an outfit that made him look like a homeless person). Reader, I broke down and croaked out my displeasure and then I cried.

I'll skip forward to dropping Sophie off at school and then racing to Oliver's school to make the concert on time and his performance. I circled and circled his school, looking for a parking spot. I drove through the school parking lot and gazed longingly at the handicapped space, empty. I told myself that no, I wouldn't exploit the placard and use it. I did this for fifteen minutes. I did not use the handicapped placard and eventually found a spot for my car and ran into the school yard.

I missed Oliver's performance.

Lest you believe me to be a highly moral person, I will tell you that in the melee of the elementary school winter wonderland concert, Oliver had no idea that I wasn't there. I asked his teacher what he'd done, and she told me that he recited something and had a nice flourish at the end. When I finally saw Oliver in the crowd, I leaned over and told him how proud I was of him, how well he had done, and how much I had enjoyed his flourish at the end.

Reader, I didn't use my handicapped placard but I lied to my son.

When I told my friend S this story this morning, herself the mother of a child with disabilities, she told me that if she had the placard and she was me she would be sunbathing on the roof of the car in that handicapped space with chocolate and wine in her hand. 

I'm going to think about that for next time.


  1. I probably would have done the same damn thing. Gosh.
    I'm so sorry you have not yet recovered. If I lived anywhere near you, I'd deliver a pump pot full of fresh hot lemonade with honey and a dash of cayenne pepper.

  2. Oh honey it must be the week for moms to melt down. Well, on the bright side, you got that over with. For now anyway. And I am not sure how I feel about all of those other girls swooning over H when (in my mind) he is already betrothed to Annabelle. However, the whole story does just make me love him more. As for the rest, I think you did the right thing :)

  3. ...or at least, got into one of the loaves of pumpkin bread, or the bags of chocolate kisses. I mean, your description of the morning just screams, "I NEED SWEETS!" to me. The wine isn't a bad idea, either, she says, with glass in hand.
    I hope that the holiday break gets much better from here. Thanking God for your sense of humor!

  4. Oh Elizabeth I feel like such a slacker! 20 loaves of pumpkin bread? I didn't even manage cards so I will do new years thank you's for teachers. All I could manage today was thank you...emails! Sigh. But do I ever know what you mean about looking on at these graceful accomplished beings we produced and wondering how they came to be. I loved reading your sense of wonder. And as for the placard, well, I think you've earned the right to use it. No judgments here!

  5. Reading this, after already hearing of it all, it was even better the second time around.

    Will be calling or texting or emailing later or tomorrow morning for the exchange of the "goods", alright?

  6. You deserve a break! The cold and the croaky voice and the meals and the baking and the kids and the pageants, not to mention the driving and the clearing up from the baking and then the dishes and the blogging and the xmas music videos - - omygosh, YOU deserve to use the handicap spot whenever you need it, period. That's my thought. And next time I see somebody in the slot and I think..."hmmm, why are you parking there?"...I'm going to remember that life as the parent or the spouse or the careprovider of a handicapped person, is a 24/7 experience and I'M going to lighten teach me sooo much :)

  7. Good god, honey. You are not a superwoman. And yet, you are.
    But you don't have the magical powers. So...forgive yourself.
    Okay? Please?
    It is all right. You do more than any ten mothers. Maybe ten thousand.
    Love you....M

  8. Feeling plowed under a bit myself this week. Don't know how I'm going to get through the holiday break. I love the "Henry the chic magnet" thing going on. It always amazes me the way our kids are NOT mini-mes.

    Also? Hell, yes to chocolate, wine and sunbathing.

  9. Like Angella, I feel like a slacker too! That pumpkin bread sounds great, though. I would totally have grabbed that handicapped space, but at least Oliver didn't know about your absence. I suppose the only loss was your own, not being able to see his performance. :(

  10. The chocolate chip pumpkin bread sounds excellent! And I suspect you managed it all MUCH more gracefully than I managed my marmalade - I'll have to tell you the story. Henry is rather handsome, I don't blame the girls at all.

  11. Sounds like a perfectly typical day of your life :) And of course you baked twenty loaves of pumpkin bread. I don't believe it for a minute that you were ever ugly. Henry is outrageously beautiful because he takes after you, by the way.



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