Twinkling Talent

Please don’t tell the budding musicians in my family but, while I go to their first concerts out of love for them, the music isn’t all that great. Hot Cross Buns and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star grow old rather quickly, especially when played by novice violinists and violists.

This past Sunday, I went to a cello concert, once again motivated by love. This time, the performers, who only a few years ago debuted with the songs mentioned above, provided the audience with a rewarding musical experience. We heard the music of JS Bach and Saint-Saens, Bruch (my grandson’s piece) and Paganini. While not yet quite concert-level performers, these young teenagers’ playing revealed the hours of disciplined practice they have invested. It was a delightful ninety minutes.

There was much to admire. The teachers and parents’ dedication and the youths’ hard work and love for music all obviously deserve praise. But something else jumped out at me as well. The five young men and two young women who performed came from different ethnic, religious, economic and racial groups. In addition to their perseverance and talent, they shared something else in common, something that used to be taken for granted but no longer is. Looking around the audience of relatives and friends (and one woman I spoke to who came because she loves music), I saw mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles. And I realized that many teenagers today don’t have that extended family network to cheer them on.

There are the teens whose mothers decided to have a child on their own, depriving their offspring not only of a father but of one set of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins as well. There are the teens who had one parent walk out of their life when a marriage ended—and those whose parents never married to begin with—where one parent didn’t want the responsibility of a child. Certainly, there are fortunate teens whose extended families widen to include step-parents and additional loved ones, but they are outnumbered by those who have fewer adult figures in their lives than biology would suggest. In most cases, the missing figures are men.

There are more than a few foolish women who argue that men aren’t necessary in a child’s life. The entire (false) concept that pregnancy is an issue of “a woman’s body–a woman’s choice”  has been drilled into the culture suggesting that anything other than a man’s biological contribution is superfluous. The idea that any and every variation of family is equivalent is so widespread, that I rejoiced not only in the euphonious music but also in the web of love and support that surrounded these young musicians.

16 thoughts on “Twinkling Talent”

  1. I’ve often felt the same way, Susan. Why does one kid have a two or three rows of family and friends at a performance and the kid next to him has no one there. It breaks a mother’s heart. During Moms’ Weekend when my youngest was attending WSU I “adopted” the kids whose Moms couldn’t make it. IMHO infants and children can be any or all of the following at the same time: unplannned, unwanted, a burden, spoiled, an opportunity for bragging rights, monsters…all depending upon the situation or adult. If a child is raised by parents who keep that relationship – parent:child – in proper perspective and who see their role as serious business that child will always know they are loved.

    1. Kristin, as the current college-entry scam seems to show, too many parents put themselves ahead of their kids.

  2. Susan you’re right again, I learned firsthand just how difficult it is to raise children by yourself. No matter the reason I fostered and adopted two family members and it was by far the most difficult thing I ever attempted. To the point of almost losing my sanity not because they were difficult but because the job required more than I could give on my own. But for the grace of God we made it without delinquency or prison. They both turned out to be God-fearing, responsible adults but I endured much emotional pain. I cried out to God to forgive me for committing such a monumental wrong and He heard me.

    1. Janet, what amazing faith and perseverance you showed. I know many single mothers build a support network, but, in my opinion, if that network isn’t balanced between men and women (and I understand how hard it is to make sure people you invite into your children’s lives are safe) the children are missing out.

  3. The best thing about being there to show our support for others, even those with whom we may be only tied by the music or by some other circumstance, is the common bond of our humanity. We are born either male or female with physical and spiritual needs. It’s lovely that you have prioritized the Biblical plan in your life and that you’re directly able to share it with everyone around you. You are a light to others, Susan!

  4. New every moment, Deb:
    Go, Susan! (And of course Rabbi). I am childless by choice (both of my 22-year beloved husbands who sickened and died on me had teenage children who didn’t need another mother. I have always been an active aunt, not to mention teaching classes and mentoring young people, but the community theatre locally after thirty-plus years has been coopted by people who are trying to do things on the cheap and have cut out many of the opportunities both for young people and for me: no more community theatre. I would like nothing better than a third husband, for whom I am prepared to “rob the cradle”. I love performing and interacting with young people, supporting them on the way up. I support Judeo-Christian culture, on which our country was founded, despite efforts to destroy it.

    1. Oh Deb, you have seen some sad and difficult times. I hope that the future holds happiness for you.

      1. And please, Mrs. Lapin, if you would allow me to interject a word to New every moment, Deb – I really have noticed and do appreciate all her enthusiasm, her hunger and honor for God’s Word as expounded upon by Rabbi Lapin and you, and her supportive and insightful comments that she enters into this forum regularly! I trust that God will lead her faithfully, as she has obviously made Him her first joy and priority. BUT – PLEASE Deb, watch out about being “prepared to rob the cradle” – unless God Himself and His entire Heavenly Host appear to you personally and tell you otherwise, it’s usually not a good match-up. A couple of years’ difference may be one thing; but today’s ungodly “cougar” age has seemed to (falsely) justify the older-woman, much-younger-man relationship dynamic. I really think the majority of those hookups do not end up well; I would hate for Deb to start down a wrong path that would waste her time, cause her pain, and hinder her obvious usefulness in so many other ways that she appears to share with others. I know it is none of my business, but I would hate for anyone who loves the Lord to fall into a pitfall that will cause them pain and possible wasted time in un-doing any emotional damage incurred from a situation that is not God’s best plan for them. Again, I am sure that there may be exceptions, but overall it seems to me that “robbing the cradle” doesn’t work out so hot especially when the woman is the older party. I apologize if I am out of line for commenting, or if I am just plain mistaken. Best wishes for all of God’s perfect will for your life, AND for His forming you into a vessel that He can use more than ever before, Deb!!!

  5. Joan Gloss Snyder

    Dear Susan, I love your wisdom and firmly agree about most missing men.
    Due to my own husband, father of my children and grandfather of our 7 grandchildren walking out after 35 years of our close family, I have a file for every concert, play and event for all 7 grandkids because their grandfather missed them all. I make it a commitment to be in the audience and cancel anything that interferes. I am fortunate that I have witnessed all of their growth and shared their achievements!
    I simply could not convince that man to participate because he remarried and was never allowed to speak to me again.
    Some of his grandkids have not known him either yet they are unusually talented and so productive.
    I still have residual pain and so do they but he chooses to ignore his responsibility.
    I can say that it has been challenging for me but God is good and helps me every time I face a family disappointment.
    My job remains to be a Grandma and devoted to the purpose of seeing my darling grandkids achieve!

    1. Joan, so many parents/grandparents etc. make the best of a situation over which they have no control. We have to do that with so many aspects of life. But just like we compensate when there is a physical handicap, I think it is so important not to forget the ideal. We went from some men who didn’t take responsibility to saying that men aren’t necessary. That was a mistake.

  6. I know this is not the main thrust of your article… but… I have been a musician for over 60 years and oftentimes other musicians have been my “extended family” (although far too many were like that uncle your mom feared you would be like when you grew up)… and also, there really wasn’t any racism or socioeconomic strata when we got together.. it was all about the music… great article…

    1. Art, we have seen so many benefits that our grandson is reaping from his music, including relationships with other musicians.

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