Back in September when I was drafting my mental map of the school year, I asked Chase if he was planning to audition for the 6th grade Select Chorus. He had signed up for the regular chorus but participation in the Select Chorus was by invitation only. Not surprisingly, Noah had made Select Chorus when he was in 6th grade and enjoyed being a part of it. Tryouts would be in January so at that point in time my question was motivated more by curiosity than necessity. While I can predict Noah’s path almost as accurately as my own, Chase’s compass remains uncommitted, like a GPS that is still calculating.
And this particular decision was consistent with his 12-year history of ambivalence. That day, and as I re-queried him each month during the Fall, he was a definite “maybe” – leaning at times possibly towards “no” — always citing concerns about the practice schedule. It was a legitimate position to take as Select Chorus practices two afternoons each week and would prohibit Chase from other activities.
But part of me wondered if he was worried he wouldn’t make it.
The next hardest thing to being the second child is properly parenting the second child, especially when the first child excels in most everything he does. Having been the second child – the younger sister to the beautiful head cheerleader and homecoming queen – I empathize with Chase, but only so much. Like me as a little girl, he has his own skills and strengths if he chooses to use them. Our job as parents is to beckon him out from the safety of hi brother’s shadow and into his own light, whatever that may be.
The trouble was I wasn’t sure if that light was waiting for him in Select Chorus. I wasn’t sure he would make it.
It wasn’t that I thought Chase had a bad singing voice – or a good one for that matter. The fact was that I hadn’t heard him sing in years. Whereas his brother will give a 10 minute performance in front of an open refrigerator, Chase avoids the light, unless it is shining on a large group of people of which he is a part. Auditioning for the Select Chorus may have been scary for him in more ways than one. So when I got the email about the auditions earlier this month, I didn’t ask Chase if he was planning to try out. This path was one he could choose to pass up with my blessing.
But Chase did try out. He casually informed me that the Select Chorus leader insisted that everyone in chorus try out so he obliged, adding in that he still wasn’t sure he wanted to join IF he even made it. I matched his casualness in my response, agreeing that it is a big commitment and whether he makes it or not, I am proud of him for trying. I added in that he doesn’t have to do everything that Noah did and a little more time in the afternoon would not be a bad thing. I was steeling myself for the possibility of his failure and the parental worry overtime that would accompany it.
That week I began making a mental inventory of all areas where Chase excels, in the event I would need to remind him of such gifts some day soon. Each day I added to the list. Drums… leadership… problem solving… duct tape design… and….. singing. I added the last one this past Wednesday when he jumped in the van after school with a big smile and the good news. He made the Select Chorus.
I congratulated him and we drove for a few blocks towards home, each of us basking silently in the light of the news.
“So, are you going to do it?” I asked, reminding him of his concerns about the time commitment
“OF COURSE!” he said quickly and I noticed he was a little out of breath.
And then I realized, so was I.