a real mother

The Piano Man

Older Boy announced he wanted to go to Europe with the language class during spring break, a plan that I fully support. But there was only one major question: how to pay for this little adventure.
I love travel. I believe in travel. I wish someone would pay me to travel. But I also know that if you don’t work for something, you don’t have the same level of appreciation for it. So we decided that Older Boy had to earn half the money to take the trip.
When trying to figure out what to do for fundraising, I asked a friend who’d been through the drill years ago for some advice. “What are his talents?” she asked. “He’s pretty good at the piano,” I told her. “So have him play,” she said. So we did.
While he did the requisite lawn mowing, pet sitting and flower watering this summer, the bulk of his fundraising time was spent twice a week on Main Street. Armed with my electronic keyboard, a homemade sign and a donation jar, he played everything from Maple Leaf Rag to Misty. And he rocked.
Not only did he make some cash, he ended up with some great stories too. Like the day he met the French tourists, young cute women, who stood and watched him, put money in his jar and before leaving, kissed his cheek. Or the jazz society patrons stopped at a red light who jumped out of the car with a fist full of ones for him. Or the day he found a fifty dollar bill in the jar. People wished him luck, took his picture and video taped him.
He also ended up with some fans. One afternoon at a burger joint a young guy came up to him and said, “You’re the kid that plays piano on Main Street – you’re awesome, dude.” Another day, I was sitting on the park bench across the street when two young men were going into the bookstore. “Did you hear that kid playing the piano across the street?” one guy said to his friend. “Yeah, he really rocks,” was the reply.
I think he learned a lot – about people and about himself. And in the process, he earned almost $1200 this summer. No small feat for a kid. And I have to admit, I’m pretty proud of his efforts.
But he’ll take to Europe more than the cash that he earned himself. He’ll take with him the knowledge of the effort it takes to earn a buck. And if you know how much work it takes to earn it, you are certainly more careful about how you spend it.
I think it’s pretty cool that he wants to continue playing on Saturdays in the fall. And I think it’s a pretty safe bet that he’s going to make half his money as we agreed.
I also know that if I ever need a quick buck, I’m going to dust off my piano skills and hit the street. But I’ll never make as much as he did. I’m just not as cute. Or as talented.