Busking at the Christmas markets

The red-haired girl and a friend went out busking today, he with his saxophone and she with her clarinet.

Although they’re schoolmates and so see each other every day, they’d not had much time to practise their Christmas songs.  He lives far away south across the Elbe river, and they’re both busy kids.

But they did have time for a couple of sessions before hitting the Christmas markets.

She went out last year with another friend who also plays the clarinet, and that time I watched them both very closely the whole time.  But this year we left the two of them to practise at our place, catching up with them after we’d come back from having lunch down in the harbour.

They’d been playing for about a half-hour by the time we’d stopped by to watch and say hello.  First thing she told us was how a woman had just come up to them and told them to stop because they sounded awful!

I thought that was pretty mean, but the red-haird girl was smiling broadly.  She didn’t care.  They were out there in the crowds playing away, and coins were dropping into her clarinet case.  I added a couple.

“We’re heading downtown if the weather stays nice,” she chirped.

I hadn’t counted on them venturing so far away, and felt a free-range kids moment coming on.

“Uh… really?” I said.  “All the way downtown?”


“OK, but watch out for yourselves,” I said.  “Not everyone down there is going to be friendly.”

“It’s OK,” her friend said. “I’m pretty athletic.  If anyone tries anything, I’ll run after them.”

As wife K and I left them to play some more, I told her of my anxiety, just letting them go all the way downtown midst the crowded madness of Saturday pre-Christmas shopping.

“Just remind me a couple of times that everything’s going to be OK,” I said.

Then I added that I didn’t want to be lurking around the corner all the time, they’re close to 15 and mature for their ages and could take care of themselves, I didn’t want to be like some sort of helicopter parent because that’s not the way I am.  But it felt very strange to just start walking away and let them go.

“They’ll be OK,” K said.  “And don’t forget. We’ve got to give them roots, but also let them have wings.”

7 Responses to “Busking at the Christmas markets”

  1. 1 hmunro
    December 17, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    Kudos for giving the red-haired girl an opportunity to try out her wings! I’m so proud of her and her friend for having the guts to go downtown and play in front of a bunch of strangers. Clearly, you’ve given her some pretty solid roots as well.

  2. December 18, 2011 at 4:38 am

    I was feeling a little ambivalent myself about that trip downtown, even though I’m eight time zones away (give or take) and they aren’t even my kids.

    But you know – I tend to think of the red-haired girl as the little red-haired girl. When I watched the video, I was startled, and remembered something else. I was 17 when I graduated high school, and still 17 when I started college. I was driving, I’d worked for two years and I was going to other towns on dates.

    Yeh, I guess it’s ok for her to go downtown with her friend.😉

    • December 18, 2011 at 11:20 am

      I know what you mean. We tend to forget how capable we were at that age. I had my driving license at 16 years and 3 months and not long after had a part-time job with a real paycheque I had to take to the bank to cash myself. I’d go hiking in the back-country, was driving by myself in the big city, up to Whistler – the list goes on.

  3. December 18, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    I was out last night with my German and mentioned your post. With our girls, we think about the same thing. We decided that, for us, 14 was still too young. But we have 6 years to change our minds:-). And perhaps our thoughts were influenced by the man wandering Weihnachtsmarkts in Berlin, who roofied a 15 year old this week (as well as several grown-ups).
    And I also did absolutely insane things at 15 and 16, but my take-away was that I would never let my own kids do what general, I think, parental negligence allowed me to do. I survived fine, my brother- not so well.
    I’m glad they had fun and all went well- they sounded great.

  4. December 20, 2011 at 12:43 am

    I like the part where they had been playing and a lady said they were awful, but the girl didn’t let that destroy her. You’ve got to learn to be resilient in life. NIce post

  5. December 20, 2011 at 9:09 am

    That man with the suitcase looks very awkward about being in the video

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The banner photograph shows the town of Britannia Beach, BC, Canada, where I grew up. It's home. But I don't live there anymore.

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