Sunday, December 15, 2013

Wanting to Quit

From the moment my Daniel started talking, there was nothing he felt wasn't up for debate.  As a first-time mother, I dug in and fought the good fight.  I didn't care if he hated a certain sweater or dinner option.  I was in charge.  I refused to let him win a single argument for fear he'd take over.

Nine years later, I am pooped.  I've caved more times than I care to admit.  I remain strong on the things most important to me (kindness, positive work ethic and wearing a winter hat), but I've faltered on others (using an "inside voice," 7 pm bedtimes, and wearing an undershirt). 

I feel like a failure every day.


Danny drinking coffee at age 6 because he really, really wanted to be 40.

This afternoon, Danny displayed a heightened level of bull-headedness with his cello instructor in regards to correct hand positioning.  Once again, he insisted that the teacher was wrong and he knew better.

I went apesh*t crazy on the ride home in our minivan, citing thousands of wasted dollars and driving hours because of his refusal to cooperate.  The cello had been his idea, I reminded him (although there may have been some subliminal subterfuge on my part).  In my frustrated state, I was ready to give up and let him quit the cello.  I didn't care how many times I heard parents lament allowing their children to walk away from instruments.  I didn't care how many times I heard adults express regret over their own choice to end their musical pursuits. 

I was feeling murderous and ready to chuck the whole blasted thing.

But then I remembered how hard the early years of piano had been.  It had gone much the same way.  Danny would do everything short of faking his own death to get out of practice.  Only upon threats of a life without video games would he participate in recitals.  For a long time, he didn't seem to be finding any joy in music.

But then he got better. 

And later still, he even got pretty good.

Last Thursday, Danny smiled upon completion of his recital song.  He knew he nailed it.  He walked away a little straighter, and there was a quiet confidence in mastering something very difficult.

Mothering is like that.

I watched the video from his piano recital when I get home from cello and I decided to not give into my impulses.  I have never bought the argument that a child's successes are solely theirs.  For behind every great ice skater, gymnast, and professional athlete out there, there is a parent who withstood years of grueling schedules and oversight.  I also don't believe it takes a village to raise a child, but rather committed parents who don't give up when things get tough.

Naturally, I may change my position on this whole subject if the kid doesn't start flying right with his cello instructor very soon.

But today?

I held firm.

We'll see how tomorrow goes.

video




17 comments:

  1. My eleventh grader informed me that he thought he might drop viola next year due to his school schedule. I honestly can't believe we made it this far. He thinks he might like to take private lessons though and not let it go completely.

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    1. Yay! Go eleventh grader! You do Mrs. Walsh (and your mom) proud!!

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  2. Is that Daniel playing the piano above? Does he play two instruments?

    I had three years piano as a child and was allowed to quit. As an adult I took lessons again and gave my new piano teacher different goals for myself. I wanted to play by ear. I learned my chords and how to fake it with those chords. Now I am often called upon to play "Happy Birthday" because those people who read music well (I don't) can't play the b.d. song.

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    1. This is Daniel. He has been taking piano since age 3, the cello since age 7 and just started on the trombone for his school band. It's probably over-kill, but the only thing I insisted on was piano, the others were his idea.

      Congrats on working on music later in life - it really can become a source of fun & happiness no matter the age!

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  3. Daniel! Repeated struggle and cooperation is the entrance door to a room full of exploding successes; that is, if your mentor doesn't expire in the process.
    SF

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  4. Do you play the cello? If not, you need to try teaching yourself without any help from anyone (eXcept the Internet) and without anyone knowing about your activity. It is an interesting project, as I have messed around with a violin for a couple decades and a piano for four. But I rarely perform on the piano for anyone and never on the violin. I am a fan of Yanni, Vanngelis, Jean Michele Jarre and David Lanz and similar sounding folks. I am reaLLy looking forward to seeing what my almost 30 year old son does with the piano he just bought, as he was not instrumental as a child, but now has a drive unlike I rarely see in anyone. So I think it is just a matter of time and encouragement when dealing with children, hah! Just as I finished that sentence his younger brother walked in the front door to help make breakfast. It is nice having him in the neighborhood ....

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    1. I don't play the cello, but only took a few years of piano. I like your son's drive! Learning an instrument at any age can be a lot of fun. And can you send your other son over to make breakfast for me? Eggs over-easy. ;)

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    2. Marianne-Chicago-breakfast, got it.

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  5. I enjoyed the piece he played on the piano. Honestly, I always wish I had played the piano. Tried the guitar for a bit but gave that up. Good for you for being persistent in having him do such a thing like piano and cello and I saw in the other comments trombone too (though of course his idea for those, not yours). I do believe you are in for some interesting teen years :) (plan ahead, start praying for them to smoothly now :)

    betty

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    1. Oh, I'm praying, Betty. I am SO praying. ;)

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  6. Love me some Billy Joel. My daughter was completely uninterested in piano no matter how hard I tried. She sings beautifully and played the sax in grade school on up through high school. She got interested in piano (finally) her freshman year in high school. Started taking lessons from my former teacher (who was conveniently teaching at the local college, so only 5 minutes to get to lessons). She's now a piano music ed major at WIU. I swell with pride when I see that tiny little figure perched at the piano. And she still loves it.

    -andi

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    1. A piano music major who started playing as a freshman?? That's awesome!! She's obviously got a lot of natural talent - we'll credit you on this one. :)

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  7. Oh my, so proud you must be!! He did a beautiful job!! And Billy Joel, even. You son did look very pleased with himself. Oh my, I wish I'd stayed with it. I'm one of the regretters. :-( Good job, mom! I'm not a "village" subscriber - kids need their PARENTS. The reason the world is such a mess is because the "village" has been in charge too long.

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