Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cross-country? Nope. Ballet? Nope. Piano? Possibly?

N's enthusiasm for cross-country waned considerably (click here for the back story).   I can't begin to know why, but she decided that she would rather take ballet lessons.  My enthusiasm, which was low for cross-country, is non-existent for ballet (click here for the back story on that).

She does Girl Scouts two times a month during the school year, and I have liked to keep her schedule open because it is hard enough to get dinner on the table, her homework done and all the kids in bed by 8:00 when we have nothing going on.  I am usually so exhausted from the 5:00 "crazy hour" that I have no desire to do anything in the evenings except enjoy knowing the children are unconscious.

During this past school year, she did two sessions of "Gymnastics Club" at school, which was perfect because it began right after school let out, was done at the school and didn't require me to reign in the boys while she was busy doing her activity.  I just picked her up an hour later from school than I normally do.  I like the idea of her doing these "short stint" activities because it gives her exposure to things without committing either of us to anything long-term.

I think 80% of the reason N wants to do ballet is because she would get to buy new shoes and cute leotards.  And that is not a good enough reason for me to deal with keeping the boys entertained in a dance studio waiting room AND put up with a completely over-the-top recital at the end of the year.  N likes to dance, but she also likes to watch tv and draw pictures and mail letters to friends.  I don't see her as having an all-consuming passion for it.  Her enthusiasm for shopping at Justice is far stronger than her interest in dance classes.

She and G will be taking 4 weeks of swim lessons in August.  When N was nearly 4, I had her take swim lessons, but once G was mobile (and then M came into the picture), it was just logistical suicide for me to try to continue this.  After a little 6-year-old drowned at a nearby pool this summer, though, D and I decided to finagle the family schedule so I can take both N and G to swim classes two evenings a week.

In my fit of trying to find a way out of ballet classes for N, the idea of piano lessons popped into my head.  I never learned to play an instrument as a kid, partly because I was too into dance lessons and partly, I think, because my Catholic elementary/middle school didn't offer anything useful like orchestra or band the way public schools do.  My parents don't play music, so I never had any exposure.

So due to my own lack of experience as well as my firm belief that learning music can be a valuable learning tool in a variety of other areas of life, I thought that maybe N would be interested in learning piano.  I am interested in learning an instrument and thought maybe if N and I learn piano together, we can spur each other on to practice.  Just as doing exercise with a friend makes one far more likely to continue, perhaps the same is true of piano.

At the very end of college, before I found a full-time job post-commencement, I took guitar lessons and then took a few short sessions when N was a toddler.  I enjoyed it, but I admit to not being a very good "practicer."  I'm now finishing up Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers, and after reading about the 10,000 hour rule, I am now really understanding how critical practice is.  I mean, I understand the "practice makes perfect," but reading objectively about it and learning about real life results is powerful.

Anyway, I brought up the possibility of piano lessons to N and she said she'd love to take piano.  I think N just wants to do something, and perhaps the boredom of being not fully occupied in July is part of that enthusiasm.

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