On the mornings I drive the beans to school, Wednesday & Thursdays, we listen to showtunes. Except, of course, during November, when we’re getting a head start on holiday music. We have time for three songs, and they usually request, "The Girl." No songs about zooming cars or bumble bees anymore. Instead, at their insistence, it’s big musical numbers about Gays & Europeans. Well, not quite.
By "The Girl" they mean the one who sounds blond. Not Legally Blonde: The Musical, but close. They adore the young popular Glinda (Kristin Chenoweth) from the Original Broadway soundtrack of Wicked. This is in no small part due to my adoration of said song, along with another favorite standby: Bernadette Peters and Tom Wopat singing "Anything You Can Do."
The other day they chimed in singing "Loathing," and I thought, this is good for their vocabulary. "Unadulterated loathing," not to mention "detestation," "fervid as a flame." Way better lyrics, than say, "Baby Got Back."
Their, my, our favorite is still "Defying Gravity." It’s not just the music, it’s the message: that we’re stronger when we work in tandem, that dreams change, that sometimes we get what we always wanted, then don’t want it anymore, not in the same way. People put limits on us, and more importantly we put limits on ourselves, and we need to strive to break through them, defying gravity. And there are my sweet beans, their faces pink, noses cold, strapped into their car seats, singing:
It’s time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes, and leap!
Okay, they sing "instincts" and "leap!" Then I cry a little. Just a slip of tear, into my mouth as I hug a curve and merge. There’s something magical about those moments, and I want so much for them to live those lyrics. And continue to live them for myself.
Today, we had time for an extra song. I was singing along to the music, then felt overwhelmed, hot in the face. I was singing "Nothing" from A Chorus Line, driving down a hill, taking the back roads to school, and it crept up on me: a choking sob. I sang through the tears, overcome, angry.
The kids yelled, "Nothing!"
They called me "Nothing"
And Karp allowed it,
Which really makes me burn.
I could tell you that in that moment, I knew what it was to be a parent, but that’s a line. We all want to protect and save the ones we love. The truth is, it made me feel the importance of teaching them gravity, that the weight of their own emotions about themselves has to be heavier, must outweigh the external–that they can’t ever feed off "can’t." They need to know, need to dig right down to the bottom of their souls and KNOW that they’re capable, no matter what anyone tells them. That’s one hell of a job in front of me.