Sundays are our catch-up days at home and our parental to-do list is usually long. I don't enjoy it, but it is the one day we go to the grocery store, do laundry, vacuum, run errands - all the stuff that has to get done around the house when both parents work all week. Most Sundays we encourage the kids to play outside, have a neighbor friend come over and basically entertain themselves. On Sundays, I say 'No' a lot. No, I don't have time to play. No, I can't throw the football. No, I can't play dolls or dress up. No, no, no. There just isn't enough time in the day, in the week, to get it all done.
This past Sunday I asked my 8-year-old son Charlie what he wanted to do and he said he wanted to make a saxophone! To back up a bit, Charlie's third grade class went on a field trip last week to the American Jazz Museum and he has been talking about jazz, jazz, jazz ever since. I cannot say enough great things about the museum and how they inspired Charlie - and no doubt many, many young children in Kansas City. We are truly lucky to have such a treasure in our backyard!
Charlie was especially interested in learning about Charlie 'Bird' Parker (Charlie has a friend in his class named Parker, so Charlie Parker...you get it). Anyway, he voluntarily wrote a 500 word essay about Charlie Parker last week after the museum visit and has been talking about learning to play the saxophone nonstop. While we're not ready to commit to saxophone lessons at this point, I am enjoying the evening switch from questionable rap music to soothing jazz tunes.
"I want to make a saxophone and I found a YouTube video that shows you how," Charlie told me Sunday. Instead of saying no immediately as I usually do, I let him show me the video and, amazingly, it didn't look too difficult. So I said yes. Not maybe, not later, not someday. Yes! The shocked look on Charlie's face alone made the decision worth it.
We made some notes about the supplies we would need and headed to Home Depot. It turns out when you tell people at Home Depot that you are making a PVC saxophone, you get plenty of help! The nice man in plumbing cut the PVC into the four sizes we needed (18, 8, 6, and 4 inches, fyi, but any lengths will do) and walked us three aisles over to get just the right heavy duty tape that would stick to the PVC. Another employee took us all around the store looking for a small funnel. They all loved Charlie's saxophone idea.
Armed with our PVC, we headed to a music store to get a mouth piece as suggested in the You Tube video (Note - you can buy a clarinet reed for the mouthpiece or make one out of a small piece of stiff plastic and tape it on, super easy). The young guy in the music store was so excited about Charlie's PVC saxophone he made him promise to bring it back in when he finished. Charlie promised he would!
An hour later, we had all our supplies (for around $30 but you could make it even cheaper if you fashion the mouth piece out of PVC, too) and Charlie made his own You Tube video on how to build a PVC saxophone. While it is going to take a little practice for him to get it down, our PVC instrument really does sound a bit like a saxophone! Sort of...if you use your imagination...check out Charlie's video!
I can't drop everything and turn our home into a Makerspace every Sunday. No one can. But it felt really good to follow Charlie's lead and do what he wanted, no ifs, ands, or buts. As parents, we hear it all the time, we say it ourselves all the time. Time goes too fast. They grow up too soon. It's cliché. And yet it's all too true. A family from our elementary school lost their littlest to cancer this weekend. She was four years old. My heart breaks for them. I can't fathom the sorrow. What they wouldn't give for one more Sunday, one more chance to say Yes.
In their honor, I will think twice before I say No next time my kids ask me to do something. The cliché is real. Life is too short. Just say Yes.