Or the responsibilities of those who have talents…
Younger sisters want to do everything older sisters can do.
The other Sunday at Mass Imogen was the psalm cantor. I glanced at Gemma-Rose while her older sister was up at the lectern singing, and noticed she had a big smile on her face. “Would you like to sing the psalm when you’re older?” I whispered in her ear, and she nodded emphatically.
Imogen’s abilities inspire Gemma-Rose. She wants to be just like her older sister. The only problem is she sometimes gets rather impatient. She wants to sing just like Imogen right now. And she knows she can’t. “You’ll get better with practise,” I say. But that doesn’t help at all. It must be hard for younger siblings, when they have talented older ones who get all the attention.
The other evening when my family was singing Christmas carols together (and I was filming them), Gemma-Rose got a little upset.
“What’s the matter?”
“Imogen sings so loudly, no one can hear me,” my youngest daughter complained.
I know how she feels. If I stand next to my husband Andy at Mass, I can’t hear myself sing at all. His booming bass voice drowns out my weak voice completely. And if it weren’t for the fact I know God still hears me, I would say, “Why do I bother?”
I suggested Gemma-Rose and Sophie sing a carol on their own which seemed to please them. So they started singing and I started filming, but it wasn’t very long before Gemma-Rose realised she was singing badly out of tune.
“Would you like Imogen to sing quietly with you, to help you sing the right notes?” I suggested.
Gemma-Rose nodded, but added, “As long as you can still hear me.”
So that’s what we did. The singing went fairly smoothly until Callum dropped some spare car parts in the garage and made a noise, which made its way into the lounge room and into our recording. Gemma-Rose coped with that, but then I could see she wasn’t very happy at all. There was an enormous scowl on her face. After she finished singing the carol I found out why:
“You walked away!”
“I went to see what Callum was doing,” I said, “but I was still listening.” It seems I spoilt Gemma-Rose’s big moment in front of the camera by not giving her my full attention.
So what have I learnt from this whole experience?
Older siblings can inspire younger ones. They can share their talents and help them if they do so in a sensitive way. But they have to know when to draw back out of the limelight, so as not to discourage.
Talent does not make someone a better person (or their mother a better homeschooling parent) but it does give them extra responsibilities. Talent needs to be handled in a loving and humble manner. (I have to say Imogen is good at doing this despite Gemma-Rose’s complaints on this particular evening.)
Everyone’s efforts are valuable, regardless of talent. The less talented have to be given a chance to perform as well.
And finally I need to warn Callum not to make a noise in the garage while I’m filming in the lounge room.
I could have posted another beautiful carol, sung by Imogen, to accompany this story. Instead I am choosing this time to post Sophie’s and Gemma-Rose’s version of Away in the Manger, complete with spare car part clangs, because…
Sometimes there are more important things than showing off talent. Always it is more important to show love.