Sunday, May 16, 2010

Music and the Spoken Word

I don't know why I thought it was a good idea to take my two-year-old to the symphony. Maybe it was because I was hard up for a babysitter. Maybe I thought an early dose of art and culture would be good for her. But in any case, by the time I got around to asking myself what I was thinking, it was too late.

The symphony is one of those places where quiet and stillness are very important. I am not being a paranoid mother about this, there is an entire section about concert etiquette on Wikipedia, which everyone knows is the ultimate authority on everything:

"Concert etiquette is particularly strong at concerts featuring music from the Classical tradition, especially those featuring an unamplified orchestra. Such audiences have come to expect quiet, and disapprove of fellow members making any kind of noise louder than light breathing."

Did you get that last part?

We were attending the symphony with the Pratt Family. Ben Pratt was playing the viola in the orchestra, and we were seated with his wife, Cami, and their two daughters, who are Cora and Sydney's ages.

Maryn was fascinated with the chairs. They were the kind that fold up when you get up off of them. She was testing as many of them as she could-- folding herself up so that her feet were near her head, laughing, and then moving on to the next one. But this wasn't the biggest problem with Maryn at the symphony. Nor was it the fact that she liked to swing on the handrails in the aisle as if she were on the moneybars at the park. The biggest problem with Maryn at the symphony is that, apparently, she is a music critic, and she likes to give her feedback in real time. Loudly.

It wasn't so bad when the assessment was good. She liked Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. She especially liked the National emblem March by E. E. Bagley, and Csardas by Johann Strauss. She danced in the aisles during those. It was rather endearing to see her enjoying the music so much. "I like it! I like it!" She said again and again as she bobbed up and down and clapped her approval. I let her dance and clap because I hoped other people would think it was cute too. Plus the music was really loud and no one could hear her.

But then came the Titanic Suite. It was slow, and somber. And it had these fantastic moments of softness and subtlety. They were perfect times for Maryn to yell her assessment loud enough for the conductor to hear: "I NO LIKE THIS ONE!"

Not so cute.

I gathered her in my arms and told her to be quiet. "I NO LIKE IT! I NO LIKE IT!" she screamed as loudly as she could, while the orchestra was playing as softly as it could. The conductor even turned and glanced over his shoulder at us. It was awesome.

I finally got her quieted down and I thought she would like the next one. It was Star Wars. What kid doesn't like Star Wars? Part I. Main Title. "NO LIKE IT!"

Part II. Princess Leia's Theme. I told her it was about a Princess. "I NO LIKE PINCESS LEIA!"

Part III. The Imperial March. I told her it was about a scary guy named Darth Vader. (Sometimes she is fascinated by things that are scary. Not this time.) "I NO LIKE VADER! I NO LIKE PINCESS! I WANT GO OUT! I WANT GO OUT!" She pointed meaningfully at the door that was on the other side of the theater.

So much for Maryn being a music prodigy.

I told her it was the last song and then we could go out. I really thought I was telling the truth.

I forgot about encores. That's right. Encoresssssssss. At least four.

She didn't make it through the encores. Matt had to take her out. It reminded me of church, except at church there are lots of other kids screaming their heads off, so it's expected.

I would also like to point out, for the record, that I warned Matt during Intermission that Maryn would not make it through the remainder of the evening. I suggested that we make an early exit. "But she loves the music," he protested. "She'll be fine."

Sigh. I'm not sure if I will make it through the remainder of Maryn: Age 2. I suppose I might if I avoid symphonies, airplanes, and IKEA. Maybe Matt should lock the two of us in a padded room for the rest of the year with a TV that streams Pongebob Pairpants and a freezer full of ice cream. It really might be the best option.