17 Jun 2011

Head lice? or Hadyn?

So, its the head lice or G sharp Minor. No contest. I’ll deal with the little blighters later. Meaning the lice, naturellement. “Alors!” I cry. Today I have decreed breakfast shall be in French. “On dois faire le practise.”

 “Mahhrrrmeee,” they chorus, but they know opposition is pointless. If you want to do an instrument, it has to be practised. Daily. If you want to do two, ditto.

Child No 1 leaves for school. She shoulders her cello and opens the front door. “Why don’t we have a car?”

Because it’s good for you to walk.

Indoors, the plate spinning has begun. Child No 2 is doing G Sharp Minor on his violin. Child No 3 is doing Kumon maths. Child No 4 is constructing something from Lego. Lego before school is fine, as a gap-filler. Breakfast television is not.

My duty is to start each plate, sorry, child, off on the morning’s project, leave it whirling, and go along to the next one.

Child No 2 finishes her Kumon.

“Right, your violin. Play the Paganini. Have you rosined your bow? Where is your music? Come on, come on.”

“But I want to go to the toilet!”

“Look, you have to Get Organised! How many times have I told you?!”

I grab the hand of Child No 4. We have just enough time. Does the guitar need tuning? Hope not, as I have no idea how to. He slowly walks up the stairs in his sandals and shorts. He is six.

“Right, Ode to Joy. And don’t forget the fingering.” He will put his middle finger on the E string to play D, rather than his fourth. Drives me mad. I don’t know anything about playing the guitar, but I have a Book and the Book tells me which finger must be used where.

“Listen,” I say to Child No 4, “if you put the wrong finger on, I am going to tweak your ear. Hard. Like this.” I tweak his left ear. “Ouch!” he screams.

“Right. Ode to Joy. Again.” He restarts the famous phrase of Beethoven’s Ninth with funereal pace. That damn finger! I tweak his ear. “Oww! Mummy.” He continues to play. With satisfaction I note his fingering is now perfect.

Downstairs, the plates have stopped spinning. “Come on, you lot! Allez!”

What I want to hear is music, proper music, issuing forth from each room. “Child No 2! Scales! Child No 3! Paganini!” I turn back to Child No 4. “Old Macdonald!” To my shame I actually once hurled a Converse trainer at Child No 2 when he refused to play something by Bach. I think it upset me more than him.

I am determined to open the door to our great culture; I want my four children to experience Bach, and Latin, and cricket, and classical guitar as participants, not recievers. And if occasionally they must go to school with head lice or have a sneaker thrown at them, then so be it. It’s worth it.

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