Life On The B Side

Taking all that life throws at us one moment at a time

The School Choir December 10, 2018

Jay decided at the beginning of the school year that he wanted to join his schools choir. This came as a surprise because a) he’s never really shown any great interest in singing b) he’s never shown any great interest in any kind of performing c) he comes from a long line of people with horrible singing voices (his mom included).

I am not one to discourage my childrens extracurricular interests though so I filled out the paperwork and every Tuesday morning, before classes started, he would go to rehearsal.


About a month ago he began saying he wanted to quit. He just didn’t like it, he said at first. Then I found out he was getting anxious about the upcoming shows. He dreaded getting up on stage and singing in front of a crowd. But as much as Shaunie likes to paint me as the “easy” parent and as much as I try to lean into the boys emotions and I tell them that their feelings are valid and their desires have a right to be acknowledged and taken into account, I made him stick it out. I was not comfortable with him quitting mid-season. He had made a commitment and needed to see it through. His teacher and the rest of the students in the choir had put in a lot of effort during their many hours of practice and they were depending on him (on each of them) to do their part and show up for the team. I told him that all the kids were probably nervous but they would get through it together. I asked him what would happen if they all decided now that they didn’t want to do the shows because they had stage fright. Plus, it wasn’t like he had to do a solo … Remember what I said about the families singing talents?

Ace encouraged him saying he too had been in his schools choir in the 5th grade and he too had been nervous but that in the end it was fun. Jay liked hearing that his older brother had experienced the same thing. It gave him some relief.

Still, he moaned and groaned and asked us NOT to come see him perfom and lost the check needed to buy his uniform shirt and then lost the shirt itself once the payment situation was sorted so we had to borrow one but …


They did their first show last week and it was really great. He smiled for pictures and waved at us in the audience.


I was so proud of him – and all the kids really.

I even appreciated that the songs were so diverse.  They did Christmas songs and a Hanukkah song and even an old negro spiritual which didn’t sound very “old negro spiritually” coming from a bunch of elemetary school kids but still.  It was delightful.


They have 3 more shows at the school this week and then a field trip to perform off-site next week. He hasn’t raised any concerns about those so I guess getting that first show out of the way was all he needed.


They start a new season in January and I’m not sure if he will sign up again – I won’t force him if he doesn’t want to. Either way, I will consider this experience a success.


Finding Their Thing February 27, 2018

We’re still trying to find what the kids thing is.  That one extra curricular activity that they can excel at.  For some people it’s soccer, for some it’s an instrument for others it’s drama or art.


As a kid I did dance and brownies.  I took piano, I joined the Junior Red Cross, the 4H and the debate team.  I even spent time learning how to make lace by hand. *yawn*.  I was a cheer leader for like 2 days, I joined the track & field team because for some reason I thought I would be good at long jump.  NOT!  I still don’t have a thing.  I am more like the jack of all trades, master of none type and I wish it were different.  I wish I had one thing that I was good at.  A part of my issue is that the opportunities just weren’t there where I grew up.  I loved dance, but by 6th grade I had gotten to the point where if I wanted to learn more, my Grandparents would have had to drive me into Kingston (a one hour drive away) during the week after school and they weren’t willing to do that.  Another issue was that I am not musically inclined so while I had taken 8 years of piano, I was horrible.  The only thing I can play today is the C scale.  The sports that were easily accessed (track and netball) weren’t my strong suits.  I like to think my problem with netball was that I was kinda short; not that I lacked the athletic ability.  I think I would’ve enjoyed being on a swim team, but neither my school nor my home town had one of those.


So far, my boys have tried soccer and martial arts.  Both were a no-go.  We’ve checked out swim teams but the practice times don’t work for us.  The same with baseball.  Ace enjoyed being in the drama club and would love to audition for a role in the Spring play but it’s just not doable due to transportation issues.  He would need someone to pick him up at 4:30 and that’s not a commitment we can make.  Jay fortunately is able to be in his schools art club so that’s great for him.


Now we are trying tennis.  They meet on Saturday mornings at 9:30.  This we can handle.  I actually am a fan of tennis myself and make my way to a court whenever I can find a partner, (not that I’m very good but that has never stopped me before), so IF they like it and WHEN they get a little better at it, I would really enjoy playing with them.  So far, they’ve had one lesson and they both loved it.  It could be a really good event for them.  It takes a lot of energy and stamina – which they have.  It relies on individual effort, there’s little to no contact and they practice in small groups so they get some individual attention – which suits their personalities.  It doesn’t require a lot of expensive equipment – which suits my pocket.


Wish us luck!


Going Clubbing October 17, 2016

The older boy has joined 5 clubs at his school.

Some of Ace’s clubs meet in the morning before school starts and some of them meet after school.  He’s now officially in the chorus, the gardening club, the Lego club, the engineering club and the Math 24 club.


Some of them don’t surprise me.  Lego and engineering namely.  Both of those are right up his alley.  Building things and entering contests and using power tools and soldering irons.

Some of them scare me a little bit.  See the last sentence about the power tools and soldering irons.  He’s my “clumsy, gets easily excited and often acts before thinking” kid.   I’m just hoping that at the end of the school year, he has neither gotten hurt, nor caused anyone else to get hurt.

Some of them surprise me.  Math 24 and gardening certainly do.  Chorus surprised me the most though.  I mean, he loves to sing, but if I’m being honest, he’s not a great singer.  Also, the types of songs that they learn in chorus are not really the types of songs he usually enjoys.  None-the-less, he’s been practicing and I have purchased the shirt he will need for their November show.

Apparently in the gardening club, they will do some planting, but they will also spend time learning about seeds and bulbs and will try out various nuts and herbs.  That should be interesting.  At home, it’s a struggle getting him to put any green food in his mouth.


I think it’s good for kids to get involved in extra-curricular activities.  I believe in an enriched school experience.  I think it’s good to spend time with and get to know different types of children and have friends that bring out different sides of yourself.  I think it’s good to get to know your teachers in a way that’s different from knowing them in the classroom.  I think elementary school is the perfect place to begin to explore all that life has to offer and figure out what it is exactly that you love to do.  I think kids like Ace benefit from having a lot to do and many ways to keep busy.


We have discovered that it can sometimes be difficult to fit in regular life things around all his clubs, such as dentist appointments, but we will do our best to work around him and his now very busy schedule.


In all my excitement, I almost forgot to let him know that while we support all his activities, it’s still a privilege and if his grades start to suffer, we will make him cut back.  Shaunie was there to add her voice of reason as I happily signed off on yet another approval form.

I may be as enthusiastic about all of this as I am also because I am really impressed that his school even has all these offerings; and pretty much for free.  (The only cost to us has been the Chorus shirt).

Shaunie is less impressed and rolls her eyes at my awe.  She tried her hand at a lot of things as a kid but she didn’t grow up in a country where the only options were brownies for girls and cub scouts for boys.