“All music is folk music. I ain’t never heard a horse sing a song.” –Louis Armstrong
As with a lot of things in life, you don’t realize how important and precious something can be until you’re an adult. I dreaded singing in front of others at school programs growing up, but it was always worth it in the end because my parents and grandparents would always give the sincerest applause. I see a lot of myself in Breckin in many ways as it is, but the other day it was because he was caught in that exact same situation with the exact same sense of apprehension.
Music in school is so much more than just singing a random assortment of songs to appease your family; it’s about learning a form of storytelling. For Breckin this means that in the most literal sense of the term — he sang songs that were formative for American culture in the late 1800s that, as his teacher was quick to point out, form a lot of the backbone of our country.
They toodled through songs like “Old Dan Tucker,” “Little Liza Jane” and “Home on the Range”, the type of thing you’d imagine cowboys singing to at a campfire after a long day of cattle rustling. Which they amped up to a tee as the kids wore bandanas, dusters and conspicuously clean Stetsons on their heads. The lights were turned low, flashlights given to simulate that old campfire and even his classroom teacher playing her fiddle along with the kids. At the end and beginning of each tune the kids would tell the crowd about our history on the plains of the Midwest.
Breckin sings along, if timidly so, going through the motions of the songs with the other kids. I can’t fault him for it, it’s easy to get nervous on a stage. He was most uneasy about his speaking part, practicing it constantly and asking if it would be OK if he screwed it up. As a parent you can do your best to assuage those fears, but I doubt any of Carrie and my most heartfelt reassurances truly hit home.
So when it came to his part, we watched along nervously with him as he…said his part clearly, distinctly and slowly. It was quite wonderful, and we were quick to let him know! He’s not much for letting his emotions show in situations like this, but in that moment you could see his relief and he even cracked just enough to let a smile slip out, if only for a brief moment. It’s great to be prideful of your children, and this was one of those moments (and to be honest they happen often) where Carrie and I were beaming and Breckin got that “I did it and somebody liked it!” feeling.
Although those moments are few and far between, they’re always memorable and worth it.