Friday, November 23, 2012

Distractions are Good

The last week has been full of Israel and my furious following of Operation Pillar of Defense, trying to put my mind around what was happening, find out news from friends and family caught in the middle of it and then after the cease fire came to get absolutely freaking irritated into some very interesting discussions with everyone calling a cease fire a bad thing.

It's been hard to think of other things.  

Still, as much as I wanted to focus all my time and energy on Israel and offer what little support I could to friends and family, I have a life in the Netherlands and I couldn't just make it stop, no matter how much I wanted to.  It seems lame to type that when so many people that I hold near and dear are living in the middle of fear and chaos but it is the reality of the situation.

I was very lucky last weekend to be visited by a very close friend.  We go back over thirty years and it was great to see her.  I know it's cliche but we really do have one of those relationships where no matter how much time passes, when we do see one another, not a second has passed.  We had long lunches and dinners and talked into the wee hours.  She's been there and supported me through some of the hardest periods and she has always been there.  It's been 6 years since we last saw each other, so it seemed rather fitting that at a time when I was distracted, nervous and on edge, her company would send her on a business trip to the Netherlands to bring a dose of calm and familiarity at a time when I really needed it.

Timing is a funny thing.

Last Sunday Leo and I had tickets to take Maya to her very first classical music concert.  Maya has become pretty interested in classical music.  As someone who is somewhat sensitive to noise, I had never really thought of introducing her to it, since so much of it is what my dad referred to as schmaltzy.  But Leo started putting it on in the car for Maya, as a break from the endless kids' songs she would force him to listen to.  From there she downloaded apps on the iPad where she can listen, choose pieces and see a symphony not only of sound but of light and color and of course she loves learning about the instruments.

So, when Peter and the Wolf was on the program of the Amsterdam Orchestra I thought this was a perfect opportunity to take her to a concert.  Since it was a childrens' concert I knew it wouldn't be too long so we ordered tickets.

We prepared her well for it, since the summer we have listed to Peter and the Wolf in the car, oh say 14,000 times and I've probably read her the story half that many times (yeah, I'm a slacker, I know).  I showed her pictures of Amsterdam's famous Concertgebouw (literally concert building, but it's the name of the place too, Dutchies are Calvinist's to the bitter end calling a building by what it is instead of naming it for a benefactor or famous world leader).  I explained to her how we would see people playing instruments, that it might be a little bit loud and what was going to happen.

We went and first had a drink before the concert and Maya just loved the chandeliers, the red velvet banquettes and how beautiful it all was.  She told me, mommy, it is more beautiful in here than a movie theater.   She loved that she could have a chocolate milk in such a fancy place.

The concert was really amazing.  I saw Peter and the Wolf several times when I was a kid.  It's always a wonderful show, but to be honest, I can remember being scared the first time I saw it.  The wolf was so ominous so I was a little worried about Maya, even though she is familiar with the story, the combination of being in a strange place, with loud live music and the Wolf I thought might scare her.

When we walked in to find out seats, I immediately noticed next to the music stands for the orchestra lots of bamboo drums and funny looking string instruments.  At first I thought, well maybe they have another show after this one and they just are leaving everything there, I mean it's a kids' concert, no need to pull out all the stops, right?

When the show started the narrarator came on stage and talked a little bit with the audience about the story. He was Peter and he lived on the edge of the forest but what he really wanted to do was go to Africa and see the African animals.  Enter the musicians and they played a little bit of amazing music and sang some songs to get the kids warmed up.

It was really great how they integrated this truly African music with a Western classic.  It gave the show a whole new edge and it really helped Maya to be engaged in it and not be afraid of the wolf.  It was truly great. Maya's eyes sparkled the entire show and every few minutes she'd loop her arm into mine and whisper how beautiful it all was.

Maya's wonder - the perfect antidote.

1 comment:

  1. How wonderful to bring in African music and it's fabulous that Maya got the chance to go to a show and also really enjoy it.
    I have a close friend living 25 km's outside of Tel Aviv and I have been stressing big time. Ironically she moved to Israel in order to receive assistance for her autistic son!