Parenting is full of firsts. First smile, first steps, first word (different children achieve these in different orders and at different ages, don’t panic).
What I’ve found unexpected is that the firsts don’t lose impact as your children get older. In fact, sometimes they’re greater. I’ve written before about being the unheard cheerleader, now my role is behind the camera, taking photographs and videos as two of my children take to the stage.
Not a theatrical stage. A musical stage. My social media followers will have seen that Alison has launched a career as a singer and songwriter. Her third single releases today, it’s called Letter from New York (and can be found on all streaming services, links to follow 😉 ).
It may be the third song that is released to the world, but it was the first one to be performed. Nearly two years ago now, she rehearsed with (NotSo)SmallTeen (who is a guitarist these days, and very much not small at all) and one of his guitar classmates and then got up on stage at the guitar school concert and performed it.
It wasn’t the smoothest of first performances. We hadn’t been completely organised about it being part of the show, so it wasn’t on the program, and I had to run over and give the compere a heads up before she went on, but it didn’t phase him in the slightest.
There were nerves. (Hers.) I was firm, she tells me, and encouraging, and the nerves were brought under control and not at all evident from my position in the audience. And there were tears. (Mine. Lots of them.) Yes, I weep. I cry when my children swim, perform, excel, achieve. I am a weeper. I go on filming, and taking pictures, and singing along under my breath (top tip, don’t do this when you’re filming. Unless you’re backing singer quality. Oops.) and I cry, and blot my eyes and smile and say no I’m not crying don’t be silly, and then I sniffle a little and get on with it.
I adore this song, partly because it was the first, but also because of the story it tells. And the way it tells the story. And because that first performance was so completely unexpected – we’d never heard her perform in a venue with a mic, and she totally stole the show. The compere, Wayne Bavin a local BBC dj, was extremely complimentary at the time and since, and that was the first external inkling that maybe I wasn’t just been a proud parent, and that actually, objectively speaking, this music is good.
Like I said, there are three songs out there now, and there have been gigs, and a festival performance, playlisting on spotify and radio airplay (this link should take you to the right bit of last night’s BBC Introducing in Suffolk). I know there are a lot more firsts to come yet, nobody told me that parenting a 20 year old would continue to be just as exhilarating and terrifying and emotional and unexpected as parenting is from day one. I thought I’d kind of get used to it.
If you’ve a minute or two to go listen to her music, I’d really appreciate it, handy links below. Do try not to cry. (Can’t promise I won’t.)