Growing up, “The Sound of Music” was a big tradition in our house. (Come on, admit it – you too. Don’t be shy. We’re all friends here.) My grandmother watched it every time it was on TV, and this was the only time we could watch it because – gasp! – we didn’t even have VCRs yet!! She would call to make sure that we knew it was on, and most of the time we’d run right to the tv with a bowl of popcorn.
My boys actually used to like watching the movie with me. They will one day kill me for putting that on the internet. But when they were little they liked the musical numbers. (Ooo, worse. I was only trying to explain! Typical mother.)
Anyway I haven’t seen the movie or even thought of it in a while, so this moment caught me off guard. We were driving home from dropping off the boys and Miss S at school. The three girls in the back of the car had just invented this lovely game called, “Let’s screech as loud as we can, and then laugh really loud, while still screeching, because it’s so hysterical!”
I go through my usual litany of ways to stop screeching. “Oh! What an awful noise!” “Ow! That hurts my ears!” “Nobody likes that sound!”
Not even making a dent. They’re having far too much fun.
Finally I said, “You guys, I really can’t take that noise. But do you know what noise I do like? Singing!!!” They paused for a moment and thought about it. I started with the first song that popped into my head. “Do, a deer, a female deer…”
And it worked! They started singing too! No more bleeding eardrums, just the lovely sounds of children singing. I just laughed, because here in my sweats and snotted-on shirt, hair askew and rained on, dragging my butt home for more coffee, I was the farthest thing in the world from Maria von Trapp (at least, Julie Andrews as Maria von Trapp). Yet somehow I channelled her for a moment, and it was enough to change the course of what was looking to be a really crappy morning.
While I’m on the subject, can I point out that over the years, my favorite scene in the movie has changed? Of course, as a child it was Maria getting in trouble with the nuns and the “So Long, Farewell” chain reaction dance at the big party. Then it was when Capt. Von Trapp told off Rolfe. (Grits teeth: “You’ll never be one of them.”)
And then it became Rolfe & Liesl in the rain and I could overlook his Nazi tendencies because having a boyfriend and a swirly dress was oh-so-romantic… And always, always, the nuns holding up the stolen engine parts. And OK, I’ll admit it, I get teary at the Captain breaking up while singing Edelweiss. Every time.
But nowadays, with my motherly sensibilities, I have a new favorite scene. It’s when Maria is bonding with the kids right after making them curtain playclothes. They’re in the market buying food for their yay-we’ve-bonded-after-one-pillow-fight mountaintop picnic!! (I’m sorry I can’t write about this movie without being sardonic at least once.) Maria knows that Gretl (the little one) is terrified of doing anything wrong. Gretl drops a tomato and it smashes to the ground, and the kid looks like she’s about to have a nervous breakdown. Maria puts up one finger – stop that right now! – and makes her smile.
I wish I could remember that every time I’m about to yell at my boys for spilling milk. New mantra: be Maria…be Maria…
And another thing. As I was debating whether I should even admit to being a Sound of Music fan for the whole world to see, I thought about why I loved it. And that was because my grandmother loved it. It was something we shared. So if any of you want to be cynical about that – you just go right ahead, and I’ll be ignoring you while singing about a few of my favorite things.