About Me

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Five years into widowhood, after one year of incredible happiness and nearly 14 years of single blessedness. Have given up perfect manicures and pretty hands in order to resume playing the soprano recorder and to see if I can figure out how to play bluegrass banjo. Singing in the shower. Still really, *really* love to knit!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

A Bit of Musical, Family History

Quoting from Secondborn’s comment on my previous post:
Of course, if you had irked the choir director enough to kick LittleBit out of choir, she could have transfered to another high school across town and earned the lead in the musical and given the old teacher the “stuff it” expression every time she ran into her.

That deserves a post of its own.

The choir director before the school’s reigning one [verb chosen advisedly] was a nasty, manipulative primadonna who tried to foul up the BYU vocal scholarship of a young woman in our old ward. She also picked on one of Firstborn’s friends who was going through a rough patch. Firstborn took that amiss and called her on it, publicly and somewhat profanely, earning herself ISS at school [in-school suspension] and grounding at home for showing disrespect to a teacher who richly deserved it. In my world it is inappropriate for a student to call a teacher a “beast”, even when she is one.

Between the unrighteous dominion shown toward the other LDS family, and the ensuing drama in our own tribe from this incident and other factors, and possibly other complaints that we were not privy to, enough pressure was brought to bear on the choir teacher that she was non-renewed, and the brilliant and kindly choir director from a small private school was brought in for Firstborn’s senior year.

Firstborn made it her business to help her have a successful first year at the high school. The choir director was one of the four teachers who appealed to a core-curriculum teacher who failed Firstborn by half a point. We didn’t know until noon that Saturday if Firstborn was going to walk, or not. She had given away most of her tickets to friends, so I think that Secondborn and I were the only ones who were able to attend graduation.

Needless to say, I had much gratitude for the new choir director. The next year, Secondborn was accepted into choir without audition, because she was Firstborn’s sister and therefore obviously brilliant. [True, but I should have realized at that point that favoritism was going to be a theme of the new choir director’s career.]

All went well until later that fall, when I announced the divorce, got my wisdom teeth pulled while I was still on their father’s insurance, and took care of him when he had his cataract removed. I was in school from 5:30-10:30 four nights a week, and Secondborn had to miss some rehearsals in order to take care of her father.

She was also getting fed up with the favoritism of the choir director, wanting to be accepted on her own merits and not merely because she was Firstborn’s sister. Word of this got back to the choir director; without checking the facts with me, she just assumed that Secondborn was lying about her father’s surgery to get out of rehearsals.

The choir director doesn’t like being lied to any more than I do, and from that point on there was no forgiveness. All that Secondborn got from her was a marked frostiness. It became so bad that she transferred to another school to finish up her junior year. The choir program was much smaller at the new school, and there were no preconceived notions of what she could and couldn’t do, and on her own talents [and by the grace of God] she truly earned the lead in the school musical.

I will add on a personal note that after years of repeated slightings of my kids in terms of solos at church, because their parents were poor and couldn’t afford voice lessons and pretty clothes, it was deeply gratifying to see one of my kids get a bit of recognition. [That slighting never happened in the current ward, at least not among the adults, who adore LittleBit and are warm and loving toward me. Our bishop wouldn’t stand for it, but it happened in the one before that and in our first ward in Texas, and it looks like I still have some forgiving to do.]

So, along comes LittleBit, and she looks a lot like Firstborn and has many similarities in her personality, and like her big sisters she has this glorious voice, and the choir director is pestering her to come sing in the choir, and she gets in, and we learn that the motto of the choir is “it’s not a class, it’s a lifestyle”.

And at the orientation a year ago in spring, the choir director actually said that we would be turning our kids over to her for the upcoming year, but that she would take very good care of them and make them all better singers and it would all be wonderful.

I give her kudos for taking a choir program that had been run into the ground by the previous director, and expanding it to multiple choirs and giving many more children an opportunity to explore their talents. I give her a Christmas stocking full of coal for her arrogance in believing that choir is the only thing that should matter in their lives, that it is more important than family time, family obligations, part-time jobs, and other responsibilities.

LittleBit was the only one of my girls still living at home her senior year. And for all the time that I got to spend with her, she might as well have been living elsewhere. On the other hand, the enforced separation might be making this transition to separate households easier, now that it is actually coming to pass. Still, I feel a little cranky, a little gypped, a little sad for the fun times I missed out on with my kid.

I went out a bit before 9:00 last night and picked up a $5 pizza and rented 27 Dresses, which I mostly liked. It was a good antidote for post-graduation sniffliness. I was howling with laughter during the “Benny and the Jets” sequence. I will forgive James Marsden almost anything, because he sings on-key. [The children’s father’s voice, and the harmonies that we made, are perhaps the real reasons I didn’t divorce him sooner.] And I could totally buy Katherine Heigl as the excessively nice pleaser who over-corrects spectacularly and then has to pick up the pieces.

Boy, do I recognize that theme.


Bonnie said...

It wasn't just frostiness. She actually told me I was not invited to take choir ever again at her school. I'm glad LittleBit has such amazing talent and more self-esteem than I did at that age. She can still go on to do great things chorally. Maybe in college we'll see her in some big productions. You still get giant brownie points for keeping your strongly worded letter to yourself while LittleBit was still in choir. I know that must have taken a huge amount of self control. You are awesome and I am going to try to find an empty nest somewhere for you to display proudly on your mantle. You've earned it!

Lynn said...

My mantle is going to be about an inch deep; I'll have a non-vented gas fireplace in my new home. And one of my co-workers has already found me an empty nest. She asked what she could do for a house-warming gift, and I asked her to check her trees for an empty nest, and she had one!

But I wouldn't object if you took me out for Death by Chocolate...

Thanks, honey!

nekokoi said...

..i obviously didn't realize what i was letting loose when i made the comment i did in the car. xD

on a separate note, when i went with moose to see 27 dresses, during that particular scene, we kept singing along "bu-bu-bu-benny has tourettes!" xD

Lynn said...

That's what I was singing, too! I kept listening for them to pick up on that variation, but obviously the screenwriter[s] are smarter than that classmate of yours who thought those were the actual lyrics.

Jenni said...

I know I am the only person that still likes "the reigning one" and I feel so bad that she made other lives miserable. I am grateful that she about saved mine!