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Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Fine Art Of Manipulation

photo by Corey Leopold

A week ago today our town had its annual fine arts festival. Actually it’s a collection of festivals. The Sugar Creek Symphony and Song Festival brought their opera singers and performed The Elixir Of Love in our newly renovated theater. The Cherry Street Arts Festival brought various craftspeople in, exhibiting their talents and wares for purchase.

There was a music group called Incendio playing under the shade of a canopy, providing Latino infusion-styled music that was absolutely fabulous. My husband, not necessarily known for his reserved nature, was cha-cha-ing between vendor booths, trying desperately to get me to kick my heels up with him. I was too busy drooling over the homemade jams and salsas at another booth.

We brought both of our children with us, and both of them displayed mild interest in what was going on. At one point they bummed a couple of dollars off of me to get a drink and a cinnamon roll, but otherwise they were as excited as roasting turnips baking in the ground.

Inside our town’s historic old courthouse were various presentations, including some historical reenactments of locally famous people and operatic performances of select scenes from Hansel and Gretel and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I really wanted to take advantage of the opportunity, especially since admission was only five dollars per person.

The children were lukewarm toward the idea. Admittedly, I took kind of a whiny attitude about the whole thing. “Come on,” I pleaded. “I really want to hear what they’ve put together.”

In truth, I had done my research and knew the operatic talent was top notch, not some bunch of hayseeds with nasal twangs trying to sound like diva wannabes. I also knew that my daughter, who wants to major in music and is considering a school with an opera program, would flip out if she would give the performers a chance. On top of that, she loves Shakespeare and is familiar with all of his comedies. Don’t ask me how I got such a culturally minded kid, but I knew, I just knew this performance could prove to be an exciting turn-on for her.

I was right, of course. We were blown away by the talent, and although the staging and props were rustic my daughter absolutely loved the show. Even my son, who didn’t want to go in at all, was impressed with what he witnessed.

Our children often don’t want to admit that we may know more about their interests and heart’s desire than they do, or that something we enjoy could be mutually enjoyed by them. Sometimes we have to manipulate the circumstances just enough, perhaps even make them think they’re doing us a favor, to get them exposed to things that will “do them some good”.

It’s been fun listening to my daughter during the past week as she practices her scales and breaks into a spontaneous aria. I just smile. Smugly, perhaps, but I smile.

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