Why I took my 6 year old to the Chicago Symphony

A while back, I was thinking of fun, indoor winter activities in the city for my 6 year old so I started looking at the Chicago Symphony schedule. No, I am not crazy.  I actually did think an afternoon of classical music would be good for MBA Son. At least that’s what I initially thought.

Last Tuesday I booked the tickets for this afternoon’s performance. Predictably, Wednesday night he came down with a hacking cough and a fever.  When I say hacking cough I do mean hacking. The sound fills the room, all the rooms really since it keeps me from sleeping plus he coughs in threes. Bark, bark, BARK, every few minutes. So maybe I was crazy.

I was able to get our college student babysitter to watch MBA Toddler. MBA Dad and I have not had a date night since November so score another tally in the crazy column for me.

Our tickets were for a piano concert, not for a true symphony in which all the instruments fill the hall with melodious sound loud enough to cover that bark, bark, bark, and not for Once Upon A Symphony, which is the Chicago Symphony’s family series specifically for young children. Also, as it turned out, this pianist, Finland’s Olli Mustonen, has a softer, more emotive playing style rather than a consistently loud and thunderous mode, which again, could have nicely covered up the bark, bark, bark. By the way, for the record, I know nothing about classical music. Classic rock is my thing.

I wasn’t crazy after all. MBA Son’s last two outings in the city were doctor’s appointments, including one in which he had a mole scraped off his forehead. I promised him our next venture would be more fun but it wasn’t just that. Back in suburban New York City I had grand visions of taking the kids into the city and those visions never materialized although we did take MBA Son to a home Yankees game before moving here. After all, it was his hero’s farewell season. So now, in Chicago, I want my children to experience as much as we can because we are so lucky to have access to so much art, culture, sports, music, and more. He also really needed more one-on-one time with us. He has been getting shortchanged on that front lately.

Also, I really hoped that having MBA Son watch a professional pianist perform would inspire his own playing. He has taken piano lessons for the last 2 years and lately I feel like I spend more time convincing him to practice than the amount of time he actually practices. I want him to see piano is more than the monotony of daily practice and weekly lessons. I don’t have visions of him playing Carnegie Hall someday, I simply want him to enjoy playing.

His cough seemed a little better but was not totally gone by the time we had to leave this afternoon. I explained to him he had to try not to cough. Okay, he said. Still I was nervous and had visions of spending most of the concert in the lobby.

My fears were unfounded. My applause was not just for Olli Mustonen but for MBA Son as he didn’t cough once during the performance. Intermission was another story but still, I just love how he rises to the occasion. I am so happy we could give this to him today. Someday he will hear some piece of classical music, it doesn’t matter what it is, and remember that day when mommy and daddy took him to the Chicago Symphony.

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Tags: city outings, MBA Son

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