The Passage of Time: A Message for Parents


Katie’s loves were music and art; her dream was to one day own a baby grand piano.

By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | October 7, 2015

On those seemingly never-ending days when no energy remains except to crawl into bed, think about this:

Last week I banged away at my keyboard, finishing up end-of-the-month work and was distracted by a familiar tune – Rhapsody in Blue. Backing away from my desk, I turned to face the TV. The screen showed a commercial that promised comfort and happiness, as they always do in the world of advertising. But my attention was not on material goods, it was on the music and the memories it brought.

Katie loved art and music as a small child. My co-members in the Parents Anonymous group used to tell me to make allowances for her behavior saying “she’s an artist” and that she possessed that “creative nature.” And because we ‘trust the group,’ I held off on becoming stricter with her and gave her leeway on requests and chores.

Katie began with a small, electronic keyboard that she quickly outgrew. Her father did something he almost never does and splurged (less than $200) to get her a larger keyboard that was not quite the size of a real piano. I took a cassette recording of her music and played it for the group. Everyone encouraged me to do whatever I could to support her budding talent.

Weeks later, on a busy Saturday, Katie and I were headed to the bookstore. We passed a music store on the way and there, big as life, was a sign that said: “Reduced For Quick Sale.” I still do not understand why – I turned the car around and told her I just wanted to take a look.

Once in the store, I began to hear the members behind me: “Just do it.” “Her dad will get over it.” “It’s not that much money.” “That’s what credit cards are for.”

Katie found a beautiful black-onyx, upright piano with a small bit of damage that did not affect play, but made it more affordable. She sat on the tufted bench and began to play. The effect was immediate: other customers stopped to listen and Katie looked as if she already owned that piano. The piano cost around $1,200 – more money than I ever spent without discussing it with Mr. Ramirez first. Half an hour later we left the shop with receipt in hand and we headed home to make a space for the piano.

On the way home we looked at each other and broke out in giggles. We expected Mr. Ramirez to explode in a rage so I was thinking of ways to soften the news. But it didn’t matter; I had listened to the group and they had never steered me wrong. Once he saw her fingering the keys and heard how well she played, he stopped grumbling.

The piece below is on YouTube and is similar to the one she played most often – minus the orchestral additions.

George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue – Makoto Ozone, NY Philharmonic

Music, for Katie filled needs beyond pleasant sounds. Through high school, she would come home, drop her books and play. The act of playing, and the music itself, was a salve to her very soul. Playing washed the daily stress away and inspired creativity in her world. Like the group reminded me so often – it’s an artist thing.

As I listened to Rhapsody in Blue and thought about Katie, and then about parents and school and stress, it struck me how hard parenting is at times, and then how quickly it passes. There were times when Katie followed my every step from sunup to sundown; I couldn’t even go to the bathroom alone. Today Katie is nearing 30 and is still very much that artist that continues to love music.

The message is this: to remember that no matter what parents are dealing with, that there is an end to it all. And in time, parents and children will reminisce about those wonderful (stressful, difficult, busy) times and they will laugh at how much they miss them.

Trust the group; they are never wrong.

Postscript: After Katie became proficient at the upright piano, she told me that one day she will have an open-up baby grand when she grows up. I have no doubt that she will eventually reach that goal. Believe in your children and they will believe in themselves.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Tiago Aguiar and Unsplash License.

Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.

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About Jackie Saulmon Ramirez

Jackie has volunteered extensively for more than twenty years in children's and families' issues with Parents Anonymous. Currently she writes for parents in the "Reminder" and the Soup to Nuts blog and "Parent Rap - Soup to Nuts" Facebook page. If you are interested in receiving the "Reminder," send her a message.
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