Lydia came walking into the room a week or so ago strumming wildly at an out of tune guitar that is typically used as a trampoline. She was singing a song about unicorns and although she was obviously trying to keep a straight face she seemed moments from bursting into a huge smile. When she saw that she had my attention she finally couldn’t hold it back any longer. She levitated for a few seconds while taking a deep breath and then drifted back down with a smile like a gigantic billowing parachute.
I put down what I was doing and smiled back.
Encouraged by this, she started the song again, this time with even more passion. Her eyes half closed. Her arm strumming at the guitar as if it were on fire. One pink foot rising and falling, stomping in time to what appeared to be a completely different song.
The concert finally ended after a third encore of The Unicorn Song and I quickly lunged forward and grabbed her around the waist before she could start it for a fifth time. I pulled her onto my lap and set the guitar aside.
“That was such a good song,” I told her. “Did you write it, or is it a song you heard before?”
She pressed her lips into a straight smile and looked slyly off to the side. “It’s one of mine that I wrote.” She tilted her head from side to side as if to say, ‘It’s not big deal. I write lots of songs.’
“You know,” she said, before I could respond, “This is what I’m going to do when I grow up. I’m going to make music.”
“Oh!” I smiled. “I don’t doubt it.”
“Yeah,” she said. “And not just that, but I’m going to make music and I’m going to play the songs on stage. Clara and I talked about it. It’s what I do best. I’m going to play songs on stage and be on television.” And then she shrugged again, like this too was no big deal. As if show business was just a fact of life. She would live with this burden in the same way that the rest of us live with having to brush our teeth.
“Wow.” I said. “I bet-”
She interrupted, “I’m going to play music on stage, because it’s what I do best, and you want to know Clara is going to do when SHE grows up?”
I waited a few seconds, “What?”
Her pixie smile reappeared, “She’s going to sit on the couch and watch me on the computer, because that’s what she does best.”
“What?” my eyebrows jumped onto my forehead, “She is? That’s not very-”
But I was interrupted this time by Clara, who had just walked into the room behind us on her way to the bathroom. “Oh, is Lydia telling you about how when I grow up my job is going to be to sit in a chair and watch TV all day, and she is going to play music on stage and I’m going to watch?” She gave me and her sister an enthusiastic thumbs up as she closed the bathroom door.
I glanced back down at Lydia who hopped off of my lap and bowed, as if her whole life was spent on a stage and every conversation was a performance of extravagant art. From behind the bathroom door her older sister called, “Lydia? Could you bring me Mom’s tablet?”
I sighed and left the room.