I have been a follower of Baltimore’s Child since the days of young motherhood. When I became a grandmother, I thought it would be a wonderful keepsake if my grandson, Mason, could be on the cover of one of the issues.
When Mason was 6, I contacted Baltimore’s Child and suggested that my bright, personable, delightful grandchild should be one of the cover models. The staff agreed, and Mason was pictured on the February 2017 issue with one of its cover lines “Cupcake Love.”
Mason, now 10, has grown into a smart, self-aware and confident young person. He decided to play an instrument when he was in the third grade.
Excited to encourage his interest, he was given leeway to decide his instrument of choice. I was not going to steer him or suggest an instrument for him. I kept my comments to myself and secretly thought a flute would be a nice instrument to test out Mason’s musical interest.
Mason advised that he did not want anything small—he wanted to play a big instrument. He selected the cello! It was nearly his size and height.
“OK,” I thought, “let’s see where this goes and how long it lasts.”
For Mason, the large black case, strapped across his little body, was like a badge of honor. He carried his cello with confidence and the self-assurance of a kid who knew he had made the right choice.
To our delight, Mason has blossomed as a young cellist. He approaches practice with a sense of dedication to do his best.
His skills have been nurtured by the committed instructors at his school, Govans Elementary School, and its Bridges Music Program, plus the support and encouragement of his mother and her motivating coaching style.
With support from his former cello instructor, Sarah Van Waes, Mason orchestrated two cello recitals for an assembly of family and friends via Zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic. At least 25 viewers from near and far connected to the concerts. I watched Mason confidently greet the viewers as he announced each of the pieces he planned to perform.
This fall, Mason continued his cello journey in the TWIGS Program at the Baltimore School for the Arts.
I see Mason as a comfortable leader among his peers, as well as being “just one of the guys.” In addition to the cello, he enjoys reading, loves building his vocabulary and being online with friends and playing electronic games. He is catcher on a local baseball team, practices karate and participates in activities and programs at our church.
He is an honor student, often selected as outstanding student of the week. Once he was dubbed with a “Spoiler Alert” certificate for outpacing the class reading assignments and wanting to share the outcomes. He has wit and a delightful sense of humor, loves “knock, knock” jokes (the cornier the better) and imparting his wisdom in sayings such as “don’t yuk someone’s yum.”
Mason is a delight to me and is well-regarded within a wide village of family and friends. And with his mother’s sound parenting skills, we believe Mason is prepared for the next stage—middle school.
It has been my joy to see Mason develop as an inquisitive, respectful and socially confident child. I look forward to the contributions he will make in the future.
Shirl Byron is a retired Baltimore City community and neighborhood planner, Morgan State University professor of city planning and loving champion and advocate for her grandchild, Mason R. Byron.