Kids and the arts

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brian_clareyby Brian Clarey

It’s Friday night, and I’m careful not to let the teenage boys in my car know how much I am enjoying myself. But the truth is that a Friday night listening to classical guitar at Wake Forest University sounds pretty sweet to me.

I’m going for the “bemusedly aggravated dad” look, poking holes in their ridiculous plans, pointing out their near total lack of accumulated experience, often reminding them of the malady under which they suffer, the form of mental illness that is teenage boyhood.

Before the show, I took them to a pawn shop to kill some time. They pulled a few instruments from the wall and began playing in tune, filling the desolate space with sweet notes until one of them picked up an $800 mandolin and I shut the whole thing down.

Teenage boys are notoriously careless, you know.

They killed it later that evening at the show, the ensemble of Weaver students holding their own against other high school programs in the Triad and making a mark against college-age performers and adult groups.

It’s the closest thing these art-school kids have to a big game against the crosstown rivals, I think, and the mood in the station wagon as it rolls back towards Greensboro is one of triumph.

Move it ahead a couple days, into a large church in Fisher Park, where I’m surreptitiously checking the score of the Panthers-Saints game on my phone before the children take the risers.

This time I’m here for my little girl, who’s got a new haircut for the occasion and a long, operatic skirt that makes her look a decade older than she is.

From the church pews I watch her sing with the chorus; I see in her expression her push to hit the right notes, her commitment to the material. That, combined with the swelling of the strings and pluck of the harpsichord, is enough to move my center of gravity.

Against all my best efforts, she’s growing up. They all are, the years ticking off in miles on the road, hours in hard seats, loops of lessons and rehearsals that fill up the weekend and evening slots in the master calendar.

The bemusedly aggravated dad naturally finds much to complain about in this scenario.

But really he’s having the time of his life.