You've heard of singing in the shower, but singing in the closet? In order to do the home piece of Riley's sensory integration therapy she has to look at a light box in a completely darkened room. The only place we could find dark enough is the closet under the stairs.
The light box sits atop the kid's coloring table, moved into the closet for the occassion. We have a big down blanket to sit on and lots of pillows for maximum comfort but still, it's a tight squeeze with Riley on my right, Seth to my left. We watch the magenta light blink on and off for 20 minutes twice a day.
I don't know how it started, but the sessions have become quite the singing fests. Seth usually gets us going with a rousing rendition of Down by the Station. Next, Riley indulges her current Faith Hill obsession with Mississippi Girl, followed by This Kiss. Show tunes are a given, "Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens"......and "Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love ya, tomorrow!"
I used to be a singer. When I was a little girl I sang in the children's choir at church. In sixth grade I was one of only four girls in my school chosen for all- county chorus.
By junior high, singing was the least of my concerns. It got put away completely, until I was pregnant with Seth.
At that point, I auditioned for (and made)the Sweet Adelines. There were about three women my age out of approximately 50 in the chorus. The rest were darling senior citizens. The Sweet Adelines sing four part harmony and I was a baritone. Baritones come in below the leads, but above the base singers.
I soon found out The Sweet Adelines were hard core. It was all about the upcoming competitions and it would be fair to say that for most of these women the chorus was "their life." I just wanted to sing. I'd come in with the baritones, and then get sidetracked and wind up singing along with the leads. La la la! Who cares? This is fun!
Patti....group leader for the baritones DID care. I was her worst nightmare and soon she became mine. We had to tape ourselves weekly and then suffer a grueling critique.
At first she tried to be civil.
"It's not that you're off key...but you keep wandering over to the lead notes!"
"Not only are you NOT singing your part again...in this stanza you're pitch is off! Way off!"
As the months went on, I followed my "What To Expect" books, and was thrilled to know the baby was now able to hear. I imagined its first experience with sound emerging from the vibration of dozens of female voices raised in glorious harmonies. Our slow and lovely Amazing Grace never failed to bring tears to the eyes of our audiences. Goose bumps covered my skin each time I stood on the risers, singing in the midst of these beautiful voices.
As we headed toward competition the critiques got meaner and meaner. Sweet, my ass. These Adelines were crazy competitive! I was singing better, but having to practice 16 hours a week just to keep up with them! At this point, Riley was starting to show signs of her autistic spectrum disorder. She was throwing tantrum after tantrum and I was getting bigger and bigger. I was so tired. The Sweet Adelines were quickly losing their charm for me. I just wanted to sing, not be taken out each week by a "perfectly pitched" pit bull. After my first competition I politely bowed out, using the baby as an excuse.
So, here I am, four years later, in the closet. A couple days ago, bored with our usual repetoire, the kids asked for new songs. I took this opportunity to introduce them to my specialty...1970's television theme songs. Their new favorite is the song from The Jetsons. "JANE, STOP THIS CRAZY THING!" has become a household phrase.
Our time in the closet has reconnected us after two crazy weeks of running. Last night, when the light went off to signal the end of the session, I was in the middle of Lullaby by the Dixie Chicks. It's a slow, whispery song.
"How long do you want to be loved? Is forever enough? Is forever enough?"
"Time's up," I said.
"Mommy," Riley said softly. "Can you please finish?"
I smiled in the darkness and pulled them closer to me,inhaling the smell of their freshly bathed heads.
I continued, "How long do you want to be loved? Is forever enough? Cuz I'm never, never giving you up."
It was my best concert ever.