*on reading this again, it reads like chicken soup for a mom’s soul, and it’s long, so beware. :–)


After a particularly bad afternoon feeling crappy and so many of you being such nice souls and providing some much needed kind words, I came home to an extremely conflicting schedule. Daughter had her Band recital precisely overlapping Son’s basketball all-star championship game. Husband had forgotten the schedule and I had 35 minutes to make a snack to sustain us all till 9pm when dinner can magically was to land on our plates, and shuttle them to their individual places.

After the daughter got into her uniform – which is quite smart btw, nice long black skirt, white long sleeved shirt with a maroon cummerbund and a black bowtie, that warranted a “ooo, akka, you look so pretty” from munchkin, I managed to stuff half a fajita down her throat before we rushed out to her school 20 minutes before showtime as scheduled. Came back home, stuffed another fajita and a glass of milk down son’s throat, a yogurt into munchkin’s [she’s been stealthily hoarding up on cheetos sitting in the corner of the couch hidden from all], tried to convince son that wearing a bright yellow shirt under a bright robin blue jersey with black shorts was nothing short of screaming for attention on a grayed basketball court, only to get a reply “Of course I want everyone to watch me play, I rock!”.

The plan was to watch daughter play her flute in first chair for 15 minutes and then drive out to son’s game who also had to be 30 minutes ahead of time. Husband was to pick up daughter at the end of her recital and then head to the game.

Band, Orchestra and String concerts are part of the spring mania that takes over this time of the year at all local schools. As part of the county’s curriculum [and I am sure all of United States], all kids, starting from 3rd grade have to choose a musical instrument and learn the notes and well, play it. It’s the best thing ever. Fantastic!

The daughter started off with Viola for 3 years and then 2 years since is playing the Flute. The son has been playing the Viola for 3 years now. As with different levels of mastery over a talent, the county and schools offer opportunities for the kids to race ahead based on their interest. With increasing challenges come increasing commitments of interest, time and most importantly practice sessions. Based on the kind of instrument, the kids are divided up into different groups. Strings is obviously string instruments, and Band would have the rest, along with percussions. As they grow older, they merge and re-arrange based on a whole bunch of stuff I am clueless about. The interesting part is this is one area where I don’t have to say a word. They like their choices and enjoy spending time in the evenings locked in their rooms, as the notes and music fill the house.

The daughter plays in the Band. She got the coveted first chair, which means she’d worked her way up from 4th chair at the beginning of the year. There were at least 12 different instruments that various 12 year olds were perched on. Saxophone, flute, drums, and more. I have been attending concerts such as these since they were in 3rd grade. All 3rd, 4th, 5th graders get together to put up this show a few times in the year. Holidays, Spring and then the Annual one. Everytime I listen to these concerts, I choke. Everytime. The music these little kids are capable of creating in unison is nothing short of divine. Music, I believe is overpowering even to the tone deaf. In symphony, it creates a wave within you, while you watch serious intent 8, 9, 10 year olds with so much concentration and excitement watch their notes and follow the hands of their music teacher to start, stop and pick up on cue as they flood the entire hall and the parents with what is, really, their own.

For obvious reasons the older they get, the more commanding, powerful and intricate the music pieces get. The pieces range according to the season; fun, serious, playful, deep and even dark. All dressed in white shirts and black pants/skirts, they look like miniatures of the professionals we admire. Their music is no less. When the final long difficult piece is done, there is a moment of hush in the audience before it resounds with claps and cheers. Encores are not uncommon during the holidays, while parts of the audience sings along. Music teachers are awe-worthy.

I couldn’t stay till the end and rushed out to another local school that housed the championship basketball game. basketball’s been the sport of the home since 1st grade. Both kids have been playing it for 6-7 years now and enjoy it tremendously. The way it works is this, our area is divided into counties. Each county will have a set of leagues. Each league will have at least 8-12 teams based on coaches availability and kids enrolled. The coaches are all volunteer dads and moms who commit to couple of hours a week to train the 10 individuals to become a team. So through the season, each team will practice and face off one other team over a Saturday game and keep score and tally to finally be the winner of each league. 2 players will be selected out of each team to go forth and form the All-Star team. All-Star teams from different leagues battle out for the championship. Two players are again chosen to represent the county.

The daughter has played for the county the last 2 years and the son’s been an All-star for 3 years now. I’ve tried to go cheer for their teams as much as I can, but since munchkin it’s become a bit difficult to attend almost all, and there are days when the schedules overlap that the husband and I are forced to drive different directions with a kid in tow. The daughter used to be gentle and ladylike intially, almost to the point that if some bigger girl stood in her face she’d say “here, take the ball” to being nick-named “elbow” – yes, she actually elbows out opponents and is not scared of fouls. The turnaround happened somewhere a few years ago when to get her to be more aggressive the husband suggested her to pretend that every player on the opposing team was her brother. It worked! Son of course dreams, eats, breathes basketball, so apart from his knees troubling him this season as he put on 4 inches over the summer, the guy pummels and owns the court. Being the tallest 11 year old helps.

Yesterday’s game was nail-biting. Boys games usually are. Well, actually this season the daughter’s team had some strong players and it did get vicious, but for the most part, while girls games are “sneaky” and ridden with “steals” including tears and drama, boys are fast-paced, high-scoring, tons of fouls and injuries. So what’s new eh? :–)

Though we live in an area that has high desi and asian population, games are usually the domain of the whites and blacks. You’d see very few asians making it up the ladder, and I have no idea why! We on the other hand rule in the geek squad area – MathCounts, MathOlympiads, LegoLeagues and Chess. In a sea of whites and blacks, I was the lone desi jumping up and down. The 1st quarter was a disaster for our team and then the tide turned, and baskets kept happening through the 2nd and 3rd quarter. The dodges, steals, rebounds, and fouls layered on each other on both sides. Obviously the two were the strongest in the area and each edged over the other by single points. Since it was the final game of the league, the school gym was packed with folks other than the immediate families of the boys playing. There was a whole lot of cheering and screaming to boost morale, which really as most players and spectators know can do wonders to the spirit of the team. Apart from just one injury when one kid got hit in the groin [I know, the poor chap!] the boys continued on with gusto, cheering and hi-fi’ing on the court.

Sports like music is an all-time leveler. The boys knew each other only for the past 2 weeks as each came from different teams, and despite that the team spirit and the coach’s enthusiasm was palpable. We lost by one point despite making a basket in the last 30 seconds, and the score drew at 46-45, a score that’s actually quite low for the team. Goes to prove that it was a tough game.

Came home tired, hoarse and hungry, but happy.

Rebounds are good. Even in basketball.

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17 replies on “rebound”
  1. says: Ok

    Po rads! Even if your kids forgive you I wont. I dont see the word “cricket” anywhere in the post. You are totally screwing your kids up:(. Voila, flute, bball.. totall unnecessary!

    And lol k3 is cute:D.

  2. says: bApHoMEt

    See! I told you! you are nothing short of supermom! πŸ˜‰

    I am stunned at the choices that kids have here. my baby sister has Piano lessons and she sings in the County Choir.

  3. says: rads

    Baph: Totally. The opportunities are nothing short of amazing. I get all excited like a kid, and if I don’t hold myself back, am signing up for all kinds of classes and activities. Ok, i know what you are thinking, and no, am not a kid! :–P

    OK: LOL. Cricket? Summer perhaps? :–)

    Metlin: It’s not bad at all, once you get into the style of writing. Though it’s really really fat, I am quite sure I’d be extending it a few weeks…
    Yeah πŸ™‚

  4. says: Praveen

    Learning a musical instrument a part of the nice. Truely, it’s the best thing ever. My wish to learn flute and tabla frm the age of 7 is still unfulfilled πŸ™
    “most” of them asked why can’t u do something “useful” in that time like solving the mid-term/annual exam papers all over again… bahhh.

    Awesome Rads u encourage ur kids to do the “right things”. I sincerely beleive sports and music really grooms one well.

  5. says: Praveen

    I remember this, in my 10th std, there was one class a week on music and the teacher used to make us sing some lovely songs like “Something abt the way u smile” frm Colonial Cousins and many more in chorus…trust me she was an awesome lady and 45 mins a week was real fun. We hardly had enuf of her when the class topper managed to get signature frm 3/4th of the class and their parents to get the music class removed frm the schedule which was replaced with biology :(. Thats the attitude even some students have when music is even minutely a part of of the regular class scehedule playing the part of a stress buster.

    The “class topper”, now a software engineer, sends an sms now and then asking me to recommend good music…I shamelessly do it.

  6. says: rads

    Praveen: Yikes@getting petitions signed! ..but then again, doesn’t come as a surprise :–)
    It helps if the environment provides the support too.. , but yes, I believe the earlier you start with music the higher the benefits – in other areas as well.
    What prevents you from starting to learn now?

    BPSK: ..and when she gets there, am sending her to you! :–))

  7. says: metlin

    BPSK: ..and when she gets there, am sending her to you! :–))

    Yes, and he’ll threaten to make girl-scout cookies out of her. Poor thing.

  8. says: lak

    This is one thing I wish the indian school environment encouraged—as they go to higher classes, the focus is only on the Boards and entrance exams. Sigh! Can totally understand “class topper managed to get signature frm 3/4th of the class and their parents to get the music class removed frm the schedule which was replaced with biology :(.” sad but true.

  9. says: rads

    Lak: I agree, but definitely from what I hear things have improved from say 15 years ago? Curriculum’s more rounded?

    The pressure is intense here too, but since the colleges insist on overall performance in school on grades, extra-curricular activities, and sports, kids here tend to get exposed to more of what builds a depth to their personality than just academics.

    But then again, we turned out alright, so I suppose it all evens out somewhere.

    Metlin: Yikes!!! Gosh, I completely forgot! :–O

  10. says: lak

    Curriculum may appear more rounded—it is actually just MORE!And getting bulkier every year. The entire SSt textbook of std 10,3 years ago,is now equal to history alone! The diff now is there is a lot of stress on stress if you get my drift!

  11. You’re a supermom. Keep going. And I envy the way music and sports are encouraged in the US. My elder son plays the piano. He’s cleared four grades of the Trinity College, London. Can’t find a teacher now.
    Both sons are good swimmers, doing pretty well in their inter-school competitions. We found a good national level coach for them, who managed to last a year or so before the pool management got into arguments about his pay. He left, and now we have a couple of half wits, one of whom actually slapped my younger son. I am normally not a violent man but I promised to murder him if he touched him again. Seems to have worked, but the boys are no longer as enthusiastic.
    The school, of course, cares two hoots. They keep loading them with meaningless homework, most of which involves copying large passages from the text book into the notebook.
    It is lucky we are not living in the middle ages. Otherwise I would have been swishing around my broadsword some.

  12. says: rads

    Naren: Piano’s awesome. Both mine started when they were 5-6 years old and worked up to the 4th grade at the Royal Board at ABRSM which was quite a challenge, compared to the US State boards. After that, it got stressful with the Asian teacher stressing more on the exam than on the beauty of the music. So we quit. Now we’ve found another Asian lady but one who actually sings and makes them sing along with what they play. These days,I don’t need to force them to practice, they sit an hour everyday at home at the Kawai willingly.

    Gosh@Slap! Lord! That sucks. I am not so nice when it comes to crappy disrespectful behavior.
    You have heard of the phrase “the pen is mightier than the sword” no? ;–)

    Lak: I totally get it. I volunteer at the school a lot, and am constantly amazed at the methodology. I wish I’d learnt Chemistry and Physics the way these kids do.
    We did a lot of rote, which I sucked at which means my grades which did not reflect my understanding sealed my fate in more ways than I wanted.

    Praveen: That was disgusting to say the least. That was for real? 😐

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