In Jill's Words

I dedicate this site to my mother. She was a columnist and an author with the uncanny ability to find humor in the daily ins and outs of life. She faced every challenge with a witty optimism, including the cancer that ended her life too soon.

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Location: Boise, Idaho, United States

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Dan Goes to Choir Festival

The other night, my husband, Dan, did his favorite thing in the whole world. He spent the evening with 200 elementary school kids.

Tuesday night was our district's elementary choir festival. As director of my school's choir, I was required to be there. Dan, an introverted software engineer, was not. But instead of playing video games at home all night, he opted to brave curly-haired girls and handsome boys in their newly-pressed white button-down shirts.

I put him in charge of handing out the kids' choir vests and videotaping the concert. Pretty soon, he was elected to run the houselights for the concert. He also sat next to my choir, on the opposite end. He was supposed to be a foreboding presence, intimidating the kids I couldn't reach quickly.

He called me, "Mrs. Duggan" in front of the kids. I, in turn, called him,"Mr. Duggan."

The kids looked at us like we were weirdos.

"We already know your first name, Mrs. Duggan."

"Do you really call each other Mr. and Mrs. Duggan?"

One student even asked Dan, "What is your first name?"

"Mister . . . " Dan responded.

At the end of the concert, Dan taught the kids how to hand in their vests neatly. In fact, he refused to take them unless they turned in the vests properly.

"You would make a good teacher," I observed.

After the performance, while I was chatting with other directors, Dan sat patiently on the other side of the auditorium, playing with the video camera.

I have noticed that most music teachers don't have spouses who work alongside them during their programs. I have forgotten what it was like to do all of this on my own. (There were a few years during the beginning of my teaching career when I was "Miss Turner" rather than "Mrs. Duggan.)

Maybe Dan and I are still in the honeymoon phase of our marriage (after nine years?). Perhaps I am just lucky. Regardless of the reason, I am happy for the help, especially at festival time.

Not too long ago, I heard that one of my out-of-town music teacher colleagues was getting a divorce. She felt her husband wasn't supportive enough. He felt she wasn't home enough.

"It's hard for our spouses to come to everything, especially when we're gone nights and weekends at performances, conferences, you know . . ." another music teacher colleague said in a separate conversation.

That night, I told Dan, "If you get burnt out helping me with my job, you have to tell me before it gets to that point."

"Okay," he said, in a way that led me to believe that he kind of liked herding 200 elementary-age kids around an auditorium.

In another week, Dan will be helping with my spring musical. I wonder what kinds of tasks I'll have for him on my honey-do list. He will probably be on a ladder, hanging decorations, due to my fear of heights.

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