Consider Yourself Well In

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Consider yourself at home
Consider yourself one of the family
We’ve taken to you so strong
It’s clear we’re going to get along
Consider yourself well in
Consider yourself part of the furniture
There isn’t a lot to spare
Who cares? Whatever we’ve got we share

From “Consider Yourself” Oliver!

We’re entering the home stretch of summer break now.  The resurrection lilies in the front yard are blooming and that’s my signal that the kids will be back in school in several weeks (three and a half, not that I’m counting).  June’s camps were front loaded this year so all five of them—Round House Theatre camp, yoga-art camp, tinkering camp, basketball camp, and musical theater camp—are over. Noah has one week left at Round House, but for now both kids are enjoying a comparatively unstructured week before our family trip to West Virginia and Ohio to visit Beth’s mom and Cedar Point amusement park.

But I’m getting ahead of myself because I’m really here to write about last Friday, the last day of a week both kids were in camp at the same time. Noah was at the University of Maryland band camp and June was at the Takoma Park community center musical theater camp. Both camps were performance-based so we had two shows to attend at the end of the week—selected songs from Oliver! for June and a band concert for Noah. In both cases, it was really impressive to see what kids (seven-to-ten year olds in one case and ten-to-fifteen year olds in the other) can pull together in just a week.

For those of you who remember June’s love affair with Annie last summer, this is the same camp. It’s her third year attending it, and I have to say that while Oliver! did not capture her imagination as completely as Annie did, it was still about orphans in peril and as far as June is concerned you can’t go wrong with that theme.

We watched the film the weekend before but not as far in advance or as many times as Annie and June found the English accents made it hard for her to understand the lyrics so she did not know the songs as well when she arrived at camp the first day as she had with Annie.  It took her longer to get into it, but eventually she was singing the songs under her breath wherever she went and informing us with great satisfaction that her character was “sassy.” (She also picked up the habit of filling a glass juice bottle with water and pretending it was gin.)

Most of the parts are boy parts and she wanted to play a girl, Nancy specifically.  As Nancy’s an adult I thought the camp director, Gretchen, would want one of the older girls to play her, so I encouraged June to think about second and third choices.  She tried out for Bette, her second choice, but she was cast as “Dodger Girl,” one of several parts based on the Artful Dodger. As you might guess from the name, Dodger Girl is a girl (in this production the workhouse orphans and Fagin’s tribe of street urchins are co-ed groups). As playing a girl was what June most cared about, she was happy.  She also got her first pick of costumes from the thrift store selection Gretchen provided.  It was a long, white Victorian looking dress with a high collar. She wore it with a brown apron and she loved it.

A few days into rehearsals Gretchen gave June a couple extra solo lines in “Consider Yourself” because she’d been projecting well. (June’s favorite line is “Consider yourself part of the furniture” because she then sits on another character.) I never got to see any of the songs in rehearsal as I did last year. Whenever I arrived for pickup they were either working on the cloth backdrop of the smoggy London skyline or they’d finished for the day.

Meanwhile, Noah was hard at work at his camp, too. In addition to preparing for the concert, he had three electives—world drumming, a music technology class, and one on movie soundtracks. He was a little disappointed in the music technology because they never got past what he already knew from his sixth grade media class and what he’s taught himself.

We car-pooled with Sasha’s family. (It was Sasha who talked Noah into attending the camp when they were in honors band together last winter.)  Beth drove the boys to camp in the mornings and Sasha’s family’s au pair picked them up in the afternoons.  Sasha got sick late in the week so Beth didn’t take him Thursday or Friday morning. We were sorry he was going to miss the concert.

Friday Beth had a doctor’s appointment in the morning so she took the whole day off. We had lunch at Capital City Cheesecake; we ate on the patio, enjoying the cooler, less humid weather we’ve been having.  Then we drove over to the community center to see June’s performance.

The show was fun. June put her heart into it and all the kids were adorable.  As the overture played, Gretchen welcomed the audience and then the kids marched in, singing “Food, Glorious Food,” each holding a spoon.  In the second song, “Where is Love,” June had a duet with Oliver at the very beginning of the song, and in the scene before “Consider Yourself,” she had a couple lines of spoken dialogue as well as three solo lines in the song. Even though that was the song in which June had the most lines, her favorite song is “I’d Do Anything,” because she liked being a horse for the carriage.  (There’s a break in the video here for a surprise battery change.)   June also liked “Be Back Soon,” because for her the characters marching down the aisles of the theater seemed like a novel, surprising move.

Anyway, if you want to watch the video, it’s about fifteen minutes long. In it, you’ll see her licking her chin a lot. It’s a nervous habit she developed last winter and has been unable to shake.

After a brief trip home, we headed to the University of Maryland. The concert space at the Clarice Smith Center was the nicest one Noah’s ever played.  He’d commented earlier that he liked practicing in an auditorium with good acoustics (as opposed to the gym or the cafeteria where his school bands have usually played). The performance space was also tiered, which meant we could see the percussion section for a change, and we enjoying seeing him play cymbals, chimes, wood block, and triangle.

There were actually three concerts in one. The kids were divided into three age groups and each group did four or five songs. Noah played in the middle group, rising seventh and eighth graders.  All three groups did a phenomenal job learning their songs in just a week.  Before the fifth and sixth graders started, we spotted Noah up in the balcony with the older musicians who were waiting their turn and we were surprised and pleased to see Sasha two seats to his right.  (Apparently he recovered enough to attend camp for the second half of the day and to play in the concert.)

Meanwhile, we discovered we were seated next to the parents of another middle school percussionist and they were just as excited to be able to see their son as we were to see Noah.  That boy was playing a marimba so long he had to dash from one end of it to the other.

June, who hasn’t been to one of Noah’s concerts since she was four (because they are usually in the evening past her bedtime), did a much better job sitting through a long concert than when she was a preschooler.  She was attentive and smiled when Beth told her she was going to recognize the next song and the band started to play the theme from “Aladdin.”

The ninth and tenth graders played last and it was interesting to hear them. I already know what talented and motivated elementary school and middle school musicians can achieve, but I’ve never heard a high school band before and they did a really, really good job with very challenging pieces. It makes me look forward to attending Noah’s concerts in a few years.

Here’s Noah’s section of the concert:

After the concert we had pizza at a hole-in-the-wall Beth and I used to frequent twenty years ago when I was getting my Ph.d at the University of Maryland. It doesn’t look any different than it did then, which was comforting.  Then we went out to Rita’s for Italian ice and frozen custard, intending to use a coupon Noah got at band camp for a free kids’ Italian ice but then both kids wanted custard so we didn’t use it.  We ate at an outside picnic table, enjoying the lovely weather.

The weekend was busy, especially Saturday. We were out of the house for all but an hour between 8:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.  June had a tennis lesson during which something just clicked in her head and she was suddenly able to hit balls over the net. Then we went berry picking at Butler’s orchard.  Between the blueberry fields, the blackberry fields, the giant slides, the lunch counter where we ate nachos, veggie chips, and grilled peaches with blackberry sauce and ice cream for lunch, the playground, the metal troughs of water fed by pumps where the kids raced rubber ducks, and the farm market where we bought cheese, produce, treats, and strawberry lemonade…we were there several hours. After a brief pit stop at home, we headed into the city to meet Beth’s visiting aunt Carole, her cousin Sean, and a couple family friends for Ethiopian.  Noah, who’s eaten Ethiopian just once on his life, held forth to the group on how to eat the injera and which dishes were best as if he were an old pro.

After all that, I was happy to stay home all day Sunday. (Everyone else went out. Beth and June went grocery shopping in the morning and Noah went to Richard and David’s pool party in the afternoon.) I did some housecleaning and read to both kids so long I almost lost my voice.

This week is the first week of the summer both kids are home all day.  I am calling it Camp Mommy. I was intending it be a sort of summer homework/housework/yardwork boot camp, and we have done those things, but June also had a swimming pool play date with her best friend Megan, and we went to the library and we’re also reading a lot and we made a blueberry kuchen with the berries we picked and a batch of gluten-free chocolate chip cookies for my sister, who has been feeling down since her boyfriend broke up with her a couple weeks ago.  June also got to spend two mornings with her favorite babysitter so I could write two short articles on herbs.

Last night Beth was showing the kids videos of rides at Cedar Point, to get everyone in the mood for our upcoming trip.  I am looking forward to it. As much as June likes to play at orphanhood, a week of family time is something to savor.  And although we have a lot more to spare than the orphans in Oliver!, we all need spend time with those with whom we consider ourselves well in.