Monday, July 24, 2006

A Summer of Sound ...

In little less than a month our summer holiday will be over. We are enjoying our time here in the Catskills. His Holiness has started to spend more time in the water, getting his confidence. Later this morning he will take his third swimming lesson, it’s not much of a lesson really, he wades out into the water and retrieves some floating horseshoes and then lies on his back, supported by George the lifeguard and swimming instructor, but it is all very large in his life and HH is very proud when the fifteen minutes is up and he comes running to me all wet and smiling.

As much as he has enjoyed the water, the one thing he has most enjoyed this summer is making noise – noise of every imaginable kind and it stared shortly after we arrived in Smallwood. Those of you who live in Germany know all too well that most Germans are not particularly fond of loud children. Add to that the enforced quiet times each day and quiet Sundays and in our case, fussy downstairs neighbors who leave nearly-nasty notes under the front door, and HH ends up spending a great deal of time lowering his volume.

When we arrived in Smallwood it was late in the afternoon. We had been in an airplane for nearly nine hours and then in a car for another two hours. HH had behaved impeccably with nothing more than a handful of normal toddler moments where the confining spaces and seat belts got to him and he rebelled as is his right and duty. But upon arriving at our cabin and rediscovering all the toys he had left behind at summer’s end last season, he started yelling and calling out to me about this or that hammer or piano or doll and he was joyous – joyous and loud! With that face that all parents recognize, he looked at me by way of asking, “Am I making too much noise? Have I reached or exceeded the acceptable volume level here Papa?” I asked him to come over to me so that we could talk. I looked him squarely in the eyes and told him that here in Smallwood he could make as much noise as he wanted, he could stomp his feet on the floor, sing as loudly as he could, play his piano and his drum and bang his hammer as often as he wanted because we were not in Germany any longer and in Smallwood there were no noise restrictions.

Well, over the course of the last five weeks he has become something of a showman. He has taken one of the footstools in the living room and made a small stage platform out of it and every day, two or three or more times a day, he performs, singing long and loud on a variety of topics. The topics vary but the melodies remain remarkably consistent. Once he finds a good melody he tends to work it. He also discovered a new musical instrument at a yard sale a few weeks back, a large pink dinosaur piano with ten keys that actually works pretty well. It was the best $2.00 I’ve spent on a toy and he plays it regularly, in every room of the house and in the yard and in the basement. He carries that pink dinosaur piano with him everywhere. One of our neighbors gave him a beautiful picture book telling the story of the young Mozart and in the book there is a drawing of toddler Mozart playing the piano with his hands behind his back. HH plays his pink dinosaur piano backwards now as well, although he isn’t quite limber enough to use both hands so we have to settle for the single-handed backwards variety, and when he plays he reminds us that he is playing in the style of the great composer himself by every now and then calling out, “Mozart, Mozart” as he struggles to find the keys with one hand wrapping around behind him and the other flailing in the air.

The house is quiet, it is still early in the morning but any minute now he will crawl out of bed and with his blanket in one hand and his bear in the other, and he will come sit in my lap for ten or twenty minutes until he is fully awake. Not long after that he will begin another day filled with sounds, maybe even a little interpretive dancing.

I don’t know how to break it to him that soon we will return to Cologne and when we do we will also be returning to the land of quiet Sundays and afternoons and early mornings. I can almost hear him now, asking me when we will be coming back to Smallwood.
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