July 15, 2002 - Monday
Grandpa's harpsichord has been a frequent amusement for Harry since we arrived last Thursday. And as he is with pianos, most of the time Harry is appropriately gentle with it, sometimes poking the keys a little harshly with one finger and often spanning his forearm across several notes to test the sound of a cluster chord, but surprisingly more often he plays atonal counterpoint with two fingers on each of his two hands, creating something of a very pleasant 20th or 21st century melody. Give a monkey a typewriter...
Then Saturday, when his mother and I were away, grandpa says that Harry at one point started to bang a little too hard. He does that from time to time when enthusiasm gets the better of him and, when I'm there, I try to adjust the behavior. This time it was grandpa who suggested he not play so loudly, but Harry apparently had a musical vision.
"But, this is the end," he said, banging out the final notes to his current composition.
It made for a nice story. He's listened to music enough to apparently have recognized that a crescendo is an appropriate ending. Still, it's more than a little surprising and sophisticated for a two year old boy. But that's not the end of the story. This morning just before breakfast, Harry was again at the harpsichord.
"Harry, breakfast," his mother called. When he didn't respond the tone got slightly more focused. He still did not break from his playing. Then, just as the directive was about to reach the final level of parental recommendation, Harry explained his defiance.
"But this is the end," he said. But this time, rather than end with a stirring crescendo, Harry continued his walking finger counterpoint through a graceful ritard to a very gently punctuated cluster chord. For that moment, Harry had the room. His grandpa, his mother, and I were all legitimately frozen as he held his final chord, not moving as the sound echoed in the belly of the instrument and hung in the air. When he lifted his hands we all clapped.
Of course, it doesn't take much for a young child to draw the applause of adult relatives. Confidence building is second nature and praise freely given. And, sure, there was some of that here, too; an easily triggered applause for any hint of subtlety. But just as likely that Harry's fingers serendipitously found a very pleasant string of notes, Harry has heard enough music to understand what he did in making a suitable ending to a flowing melody. Monkey or not, it was well done.
Today was the end of our trip to grandpa's house and maybe that was for the best. Harry's agitation from yesterday continued into today, so maybe he's ready to be back in familiar surroundings. Still, the plane trip home was almost as perfect as the flight Thursday, save a nasty stewardess who seemed to understand nothing about traveling with little children. It didn't hurt that we went from grandpa's car, to a monorail train in the airport, to the plane, then a shuttle bus to our car, then home in our own car. Harry liked that and, maybe, so did Jeremy. Regardless, sweet Jeremy did what he did the whole trip: smiled and acted happy.