Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Summer has come to a close, and we are entering the blissful over-involved, over-committed routine of the school year. And somehow I've convinced our family that it's better than the chaos of the summer. Fortunately, ChellBell has turned her nose up at a couple of commitments from last year, which has freed up some time during the week. The only new commitment she has taken on is piano. And she loves it.

Her teacher actually comes to the house once a week and gives a lesson on our own piano. Works beautifully on account of the fact that I don't have to go anywhere for lessons (I sat in front of my computer eating Frito Pie last week), and I can overhear the instruction and emulate it throughout the week.

The teacher commented last week that ChellBell is making good progress and that piano might just be her "thing". Learning the notes, the theory, and the song is no issue for her. The only problem she has is playing the song in the right tempo. Evidently, ChellBell will either play the song just as fast as she can, and then -- TA-DA -- she's done, or she gets distracted and plays way too slow.

So I dug through a box in the garage and found a metronome. Actually the same metronome that my Mom used when I was learning to play. If you haven't had the joy of using one before, a metronome is this time-keeper that ticks and tocks at the speed at which it is set, keeping a perfect tempo. I really thought this was the answer for ChellBell's timing issue. I got it all set up and started the maddening tick....tock....tick....tock. A reasonable pace for playing Yankee Doodle Dandee. I had only been out of the piano room for one round of the song when I heard Yankee Doodle being played at a Guiness Book record speed. The mild tick....tock had become a ticktockticktock that made even the dogs wince.

One peek into the piano room, and ChellBell said, "Look, Mom, I can make it go really, really fast!" Back to square one.

Monday was a big day at our house -- ChellBell started the Second Grade. As we shimmied our way down the crowded school hallways to the Second Grade wing, ChellBell kept about one pace ahead of us. And nearing the classroom door turned back and said, "I can take it from here."

I can take it from here.

Wow. I was glad she could, because I all but lost it at that moment. I wasn't ready -- and still am not ready -- for her to be able to take it from here.

Laying down with her last night, she reviewed every detail of the day for me, including who got color changes, what everyone was wearing, and the percentage of Second Grade girls carrying messenger bags versus traditional backpacks. And then she asked,

"Mom, why did you get all sad today at school?"

I told her the story of when she was just a baby and took her very first step. I was so excited for her progress, but also felt an immediate pang of empty, almost like something had been stolen. My baby had traded in baby-ness for unassisted steps. One step farther from me.

Second Grade is just like that first step. Trading little-girl-ness for progress and education. Which is an excellent trade. But still hard on a Mom.

I told her that sometimes it feels like time goes really slow, and sometimes it feels like time goes really fast. Like someone sets the metronome, changing the pace depending on the circumstance. And I just didn't expect Second Grade to come so fast.

And with her 7-year old wisdom, she said,

"Mama, it came at just the right time. Not too fast and not too slow."

So maybe she understands tempo more than we're giving her credit for?


  1. Christie, that was beautiful! My daughter is just 3 years old and I've already had those moments. So glad to see what she learns each day and yet so sad to see my baby leaving me. Sometimes I just cry, even though I feel so blessed.

  2. Ahhhh...my blogging buddy is back. How I have missed you. Seriously, you have such fantastic blogs, like this one...so well written. Please don't stray too far.... That darn facebook!!

  3. My ChellBear. I can't believe how big she is!