A Letter from Stay-at-Home: She Who Burps & Sings

Dear World,

The singing starts after breakfast, or after breakfast for a high school freshman stuck at home during the Spring of her first year at high school. Some days, I know the song, but plenty of others I don’t. I suspect some of them are of her own creation. As a musician myself, or a lapsed one, at least, I hope that’s the case. While I am initially annoyed by the interruption to my attempt to get into a working mode, I’m always struck by the strength of the voice. Even on the vulnerable notes.

I’ve been paying a great deal of attention to the soundscape of my home and family these last couple of days. Five people engaged in school and work and life (perhaps life should’ve led that list) mark an awful lot of noises, few of which are complimentary.

The other sounds ebb and flow throughout the day – peaking at mealtimes. This is likely due to the fact that my WFH office is kitchen adjacent – on the other side of the pocket door that separates our dining room from the kitchen1.

Were I currently conducting an ethnographic study on my family, and perhaps I am, as I seem to be collecting at least some evidence, I would relish my desk perch, as it’s in our kitchen where our children are sharing their most honest selves with each other. Discussing recipes, events of the day, latest found memes and frustrations with school. Bits of songs – both real and parodied – are on audio display as well.

Upstairs, I catch snippets of the courses and conferences and meetings my wife, a high school English teacher, is conducting. I’d love to be a student in her class.

Quinn was given a task by her music teacher to practice the cup song. Yes, that one. She works next to Teagan, who needs silence for her work. So brokering that compromise led to the creation of a studio for Quinn on the front porch – a limited strategy that will fail later this week2 when Spring snow returns to Colorado. But every day is a new day. I’ll deal with that one then.

Were I an ethnographer presently, I’d be curious to unpack the data, but, since I’m actually a library administrator, I alternate between moments of delight, wonder, and profound annoyance. Who need to run the blender that much? Why are all the burps so loud? Why are there burps at all? Is there really a disagreement about every pot to clean and who will make the mac and cheese?

The same voice that burps the loudest is one of the prettiest singing voices I’ve ever heard. But that singing doesn’t come from the kitchen – it drifts up through the basement vents and, with the right resonance, the floorboards beneath my feet. Usually after breakfast. But sometimes other times. Occasionally, the strumming of a ukulele makes an auditory appearance. You can’t force someone to take up music. But when they do, you can certainly beam with pride.

So much right now to see and hear and do. If only we can remember to look and listen and act.

I’m struggling to remember to do all three.

  1. Whenever I close the pocket door, I see the giant nail-sized hole in said door anew. Seems as though at least one former resident of this house put a nail through the wall while the pocket door was tucked away in its pocket. And, you know, forgot. I giggle a bit when I imagine this happening. []
  2. Actually, it fell earlier today, as I was informed that the porch is too “polleny” and there are spiders in the corners. If the Chromebook gets too polleny, she can’t use it for school. []

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