Saturday, July 12, 2014

Kate and Crew 15: Piano Students

15. Piano Students (April, 2014) 

          In high school and college, Kate never thought that she would teach piano lessons, or at least enjoy teaching. But since she and Mister moved to Virginia after their wedding, she found that when you have the right combination of students that want to learn, involved parents, and a solid no-practice-no-lesson policy, teaching was extremely rewarding. She had taught a couple of her students for just over three years, and when she started, they didn't know a single scrap of music or rhythm. Now, they could play all kinds of things, including lead sheets which only had melody and chords. It was satisfying to see progress. 
          Kate taught three brothers: a 9-year-old and 7-year-old twins, and each with a very unique personality. But they were all fun, respectful, and generally enthusiastic about things (even if it wasn't always their piano lesson.) Each week, they scrambled up the stairs with their music and school bags in tow; and they would pile on top of each other in the living room. They playfully wrestled with and shoved each other until somehow, they all formed a line expectantly facing Kate. She knew what they wanted. A while back, Kate started doing flashcards with them, and their collective competitive spirit overflowed with joy when Kate allowed two or three rounds. When she offered a candy reward to the winner, shouts of "A! no, B!!!" or "Geeeeee!!!" echoed through the house and (Kate was sure) next door as well. Sometimes, when they were short on time and there was lots to do, she had to disappoint them and say, "No flashcards today, boys." Their little faces would glance down at the floor, unsure of what to do when there was no competition. 
          But what Kate loved the most was watching the boys play with Teddy. Often he slept during lessons, but when he was awake, the boys gravitated toward him. They offered him toys and watched in open-mouthed wonder as he would choose one or another. Of course, they had even more fun with him when he started rolling over, and then crawling more reliably, as he did shortly after Peg's visit. Watching the boys, Kate loved seeing the sibling interaction, and also how gentle they were with Teddy, while still finding him interesting and fun to play with. She hoped she and Mister could cultivate those qualities in their kids as they grew and (she hoped) interacted with even younger siblings. 
          At the end of the lesson, Kate sat on the stairs with Teddy while the boys put on their shoes. "Hey!" she exclaimed, "Next week I get to find out if I'm having a boy or a you want to guess what it is? Then next week I'll tell you if you were right!" 
          Johnny, one of the twins answered immediately, "A girl!" and nodded his head as if that settled it. 
          Andrew was the older and more reserved of the three. He thought and thought, perhaps trying to figure it out, but finally he gave up and said with a shrug, "I guess...a boy." 
          When Danny (the more energetic, loquacious twin) came down the stairs from gathering schoolbooks from the kitchen, Kate repeated her question. He looked very confused and muttered, "a boy....I think. Or maybe a girl..." 
          At this, Kate laughed and said, "Danny's got it. It will certainly be a boy or a girl!" 

          Later, at their home, the boys surrounded their mother and asked, "Did you know that Mrs. Miller was having another baby?" 
          "Of course!" she said, "We knew months ago." 
          "How could you not tell us?!" they accused. 
          Their mother was flabbergasted. "How could you not know?!" she returned. She and Kate talked about the pregnancy in front of the boys every week after lessons! Honestly! How could they possibly not know?
          When she told Kate about the conversation, they both hooted with laughter. "I'm always accusing them of eavesdropping..." the mother confessed. "I guess this proves at least one case when they hear much less than I expected!" 
          Kate laughed, "I'm pretty sure I've even mentioned 'the new baby' to them before. I guess this means your boys have officially reached the 'Clueless Guy' stage!" 
          "Definitely! It's a special wall blocking certain kinds of information! I can still hardly believe they didn't know...oh well, there's something to look forward to in Teddy's future!" 
          Kate nodded, "I will have to watch out for that." Then she shook her head and looked down at her large round belly, "I can hardly believe they didn't know either...between us talking about it, and well, it being rather obvious... It's pretty amazing." 

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