Being a homeschooler and breadwinner feels like I’m the ball in a pinball machine. I hit something, hopefully make it light up, and go to the next thing. I never stay too long at one thing or I fall down the black abyss.

Today my list was:

Help younger son practice Shostakovich

Help older son study Russian History

Write a blog post

I was looking for a recording of Shostokovich on YouTube and I discovered that Shostokovich wrote his 9th Symphony during the German Siege of Leningrad in World War II. More than 50,000 civilians died in Leningrad and it captured the attention of all of Russia.

The Russians airlifted the symphony over the German troops and into Leningrad. But so many musicians had starved to death in Leningrad that the Russian army also had to airlift musicians from the front lines to go back to Leningrad play the symphony.

The musicians rehearsed for months in Leningrad, always on the brink of starvation. When they were ready to perform, the symphony was broadcast across all of Russia.

The kids and I watched a video about the rehearsals, then we watched first-person accounts of hearing the symphony.

“This is Stanlinist propaganda!” screamed the history son.

“No piece of music wins a war!” said the music son.

What? My boys are screaming about music and history and the veracity of primary sources: I am a successful parent.

I said, “Now we are listening to Shostokovitch’s 7th Symphony!” One son snuggled up with the dog on the sofa. And one laid his head on my shoulder: Pinball wizard.