Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pan, rising

My neighbor kid, Lance, is 13. He's a thoughtful kid, bright and friendly. He's in seventh grade and it's clear, from our intermittent chats outside over the fence that separates our yards, that he gives real consideration to the things he's interested in and I really respect that about him.

Lance is in band and was telling me that this year he's moved on from saxophone, which he played in 6th grade, to clarinet. He likes the clarinet just fine but he had a question for me, as he always does. He rattled off the various cool band instruments he might like to try in the future and said he'd really like to play the flute, "even though it IS kind of a girly instrument, right?" He looked uncomfortable, then asked plaintively:

"Can a boy PLAY the flute?"

My response - that in Greek mythology, Pan brought joy to the woodlands with his flute-playing and was beloved by the gods - went past his seventh-grade realm of reference, I think, so I finally just said "Sure, a boy can play flute. Guys can play any instrument and girls can, too. Nobody cares about that stuff anymore" and he looked about as embarrassed and depressed at the thought of being laughed at for wanting to play a "girly instrument" as he had when he brought it up initially. So we dropped it and moved on.

I still don't have the answers for being 13. But I absolutely understand the questions.