My son has always been a beautiful, charming boy. His brown air, sparkling blue eyes, and charming manner with adults made him a favorite of the parents of kids he played with or with our grown up visitors. My ex-sister-in-law swore he was not a small child, but a 40-year-old midget.
He has a very laid back approach to life. Very laid back. So laid back that, as the end of high school approached and the inevitable discussions about college and the future began, it was distressing that he didn’t have any clear ideas about where he might want to go to school or what he might want to do with his life. Indeed, even bringing up the topics resulted in one of two reactions: he either pretended not to hear, attention glued to the video game or cartoon he was watching, or he would actually get distressed about it because he hadn’t given it much thought and sensed that that was not the answer Dad and I wanted to hear.
He toyed with the idea of going into the military, which at first did not upset me. I’m from a Navy family and feel that that’s the highest form of service to our country. I envisioned him going into the ROTC at a university, or perhaps applying to the Naval Academy. Then he announced he wanted to be a Marine. Well, that’s a whole ‘nother story, as they say…I wonder how many teary mothers they get in Marine recruiting offices…the didn’t keep much around in the way of tissues…
Anyway, the next thing I knew, my son was announcing that he wanted to major in music, choral music, and perhaps become a choral singer on Broadway. I was stunned. Piano lessons in second grade went badly. Trumpet experiments in middle school were short lived. The most training he had had in music was in high school chorus for three years. Where was this coming from?
Now, admittedly, the chorus at his high school is amazing. The director is incredibly professional and brings his students to a very high level of performance in a very short time. Sacred music, pop music, commercial music, you name it, they do it – on key, on time, every time. They regularly beat the local arts school at competitions.
One day, my son announced that he was going to apply to the University of Florida College of Music for vocal performance. There was no talking him out of it in favor of something, er, more “practical.” He got an audition date (which he nearly blew because he forgot to RSVP), he got his chorus teacher to find two audition pieces for him (about two weeks before the audition), he practiced and practiced (in his car), and we went to Gainesville for the audition.
Audition day came and we went to Gainesville. He was a bit nervous. He looked nice. There were about 150 families there, the kids with their various instruments. There were several presentations before the auditions. Then the kids were taken to a Q & A session separate from the parents. In the parents’ session, one mom finally asked for the skinny. Just how many spots are available? Depends on the instrument, was the answer. French horn: 4 or 5. Voice: maybe 6.
Did I mention that there were several other audition days with 150 more families at each one wit who knows how many other vocal candidates?
Well, I thought, there’s no chance he’ll make it (remember that I thought that, it’s important later), but he will have given it a shot. (And I will have been right.)
We waited for him after the audition. He felt good when he came out – thought he had nailed it. Good, I thought, he won’t get in, but it won’t be because he messed up.
Next, he had an interview. Again we waited. Again, felt like he nailed it. Great! We can go home with him knowing he gave it his best. Later we can tell him there were only 6 spots available and he just was out-competed.
One week later, a letter arrived that he opened in front of me. When he announced that it said he had made it, I thought he was joking…