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.”