So there I was with my sister on vacation recently, no kids, sitting at a hip outdoor bar and grill on the pier in Key West, Fla., waiting to watch the sun set over the water.
A two-man band was playing a variety of R&B and blues tunes, and the singer was phenomenal. Folks were singing along, heads bobbing, dancing.
At the same time others were rushing out to get a good spot at the pier edge for the approaching sight.
Along came a family — mom, dad and three children ages 7 to 12. Every one of them walked right by the music, seemingly unmoved, except the youngest boy. He stopped right in front of the band, his eyes and mouth stretched wide, and he just stared and started bobbing his head to the music. He was obviously moved. The next moment his mother grabbed his arm, yelling at him for not keeping step with the family.
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I get it. She didn’t want him getting separated from the group. But I thought, wow! There is something about that music that had that little boy so mesmerized he couldn’t even move. I think he was instantly in love. But I don’t think his mother noticed. Her attention was on getting to wherever they were heading.
I think she missed that perhaps this child ought to be engaged in music. It might be his calling. The thing that keeps him out of trouble. The thing that helps him express himself, you know?
I let it go.
Later on a cruise to the Grand Bahamas, it happened again.
There I was sitting at an on-deck pub. Again, live music. Again, amazing singer. Again, lots of people enjoying the music, many others just strolling past as if they didn’t notice it was soul-shaking.
Another family: mom, dad, young son. That little boy stopped and stared up at the singer. Then he just started dancing. His mother ran to grab him. Then something stopped her, and she stepped back and let him take it all in. The vocalist began singing directly to the boy. He smiled and danced and clapped.
Folks were saying, I bet that child ends up being a great musician some day. When I asked his mom about it she said, “As soon as he’s old enough, we’re gonna get him playing an instrument. I’ve never seen him do that before.”
Now, of course, Mom No. 1 could have had good reason to snatch up her son. Maybe he’s already taking music lessons. But I think he was telling her something: I got the music in me.
My son did that once with roller hockey. He saw some kids playing and he just couldn’t move away. Even though we were in a hurry, we let him watch. The next day we found a hockey team and signed him up. It’s not a sport I would ever have thought about for him. But Trey was a wonderful hockey player and loved it. He doesn’t play now, but he had the experience.
If I’d just snatched him away that day, we would have missed it all.
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