I’ve been practicing.
The tips of the fingers on my left hand are tough and my voice is a little rougher than normal. I haven’t been on stage for a long time and although I’ll only be performing two songs it doesn’t matter, the butterflies have already started to gather in growing clusters every time I think about it, which is every day for at least an hour or so.
Generally I wait until HH is packed off to kindergarten and I’ve done whatever work there is that’s needs doing before I strap on the guitar and wander around these rooms singing to the walls. Some days that means I don’t get to it until he’s gone to bed at night, but he knows something is up. I told him about it a week ago and he had suggestions for the songs I should sing. He thinks “Old McDonald” and “She’ll be Comin’ Round the Mountain” are probably my best songs. When I told him I was going to play songs I had written he looked baffled – “You did write those songs Papa.” It had never occurred to me that he thought I had made up all the children’s songs I play for him. He also wants to get up on stage with me and help out on piano. I told him that was not going to be possible either so he came up with another idea: He would distribute the candy he had collected during the previous week of Karneval and give it away to the audience while I was on stage. It was his way of giving something of value to the effort. I had explained to him that the concert was a benefit for a children’s hospital in Afghanistan and being the civic-minded four-year-old that he is, he came up with the idea of giving candy to the crowd. I think it’s a wonderful idea and I imagine that much of the audience, at least those in his immediate vicinity, will be sufficiently distracted from my performance that at least a few dozen of those pesky butterflies will be diverted from their destination in my belly.
Last night as I was rehearsing he came into the room and sat for a minute very quietly and listened, which is not like him at all, then he started dancing. “I’m going to dance for you Papa,” he said and started moving to the music, slowly, gracefully around the room, using all the moves he had learned in his kindergarten calisthenics class, even rolling on the floor and pulling his legs up to his head in an almost somersault. I was nearly in tears. I had never seen him dance like that before and for a moment there I thought it would be a wonderful idea to actually have him up there with me; him dancing his interpretive dance while I played. But I expect he will stay in the audience and pass out his sweets instead. He’s almost ready for a live performance, but not quite. There’s still that part of him that seizes up sometimes when the pressure’s on, when he reaches for my legs and wraps himself around me, buries his head and holds on very tight. I know the feeling.
I won’t be singing this song on February 7th at Stadtgarten here in Cologne but I thought you might enjoy it – it’s a song I wrote a while back for a child named “Rose.”
*Copyright 2008 German Diary