Sing. Sing a Song.
That big smile on the little boy up there is the general and usual state for my youngest twin son, Samuel. Sam is happy, seemingly outgoing, and one of the most even-keeled people I have every known in my life.
However, you have to know him well to understand that he can also be more than a little shy. The outgoing personality, the flirtatious nature with just about any girl or woman, all part of who he is. But letting those same people in and seeing what he’s thinking or feeling, that’s a far bigger chore. I understand because I am more than a little that way myself.
So this evening I feel for him as we had to come to terms with his bowing out of what is, for him, one of the biggest risks he’s taken in awhile.
A few weeks ago Sam asked if he could be part of the talent show for his school. Aside from the speech competition that he joined that’s a really big jump. The interesting thing for all of that is the fact that Sam, of all my children, hell even of my own abilities, has near perfect pitch. Have him sing a song after he’s learned it and he can hit the notes without the backing music.
Sam, though, like all 11-year-olds, has a quirky and somewhat bent sense of humor. Not unlike all his siblings and his father.
So he decided this weird little video from the Australian subway system that he’s seen called Dumb Ways to Die should be his song for the talent show. I have seen it, it’s odd but funny and I didn’t think much of it.
But the school decided, and I’m not criticizing, I can see this too, that it may not be appropriate. Sam cut out one of the verses at their behest but they still thought it might put some folks on edge.
To their credit they wanted him to sing anyway…just find another song.
We’re a musical household, it’s true…but Sam is very self-conscious and doesn’t sit and sing the songs I play with his sister. He either never showed the interest or he just was too shy to do it. So when he came up to me tonight and asked if I had any ideas for songs he’d like to know.
Then I asked him when he was supposed to sing.
“Tomorrow at lunch,” was the answer. I felt horrible because I thought it was next week, not tomorrow.
“Oh my, Sam, I . . . I just don’t know.”
I gave him a bunch of songs. I asked about “Being Green” from the Muppets. Too many words to learn in a couple hours. Any number of classic rock or current pop songs…nothing he can do without accompaniment.
After long thought and much consternation Sam looked at me, in dead seriousness not being angry, and said “I think it’s best if I just don’t do it.”
“I suppose that’s best, kiddo, I don’t know what you could learn by then. I don’t think we could record the accompaniment tonight anyway.”
He was down, crestfallen, and just more than a little less bubbly. I could tell it bothered him. He asked his sister, home from college, to read Sherlock Holmes to them tonight and he perked up a little.
After a chapter of The Hound of the Baskervilles I went up to tuck them in. I gave him an extra large hug and when he pushed away he looked a little confused and asked “what was that for?”
“I’m sorry, little man, I should have known the talent show was tomorrow.”
He looked at me, shook his head, smiled, and said “oh, it’s okay. You can help me get ready for next year.”
He looked down a little as he said it, but then said “love you Dad!” and smiled. He jumped onto the bed, grinned and thanked his sister for reading. On the way out I looked to him and said
“Sam we need to have you sing with us when your sister and I play guitar. You have a better voice than either of us.”
He looked, smiled, and said “yeah, it would be nice to sing a song.”