Sunday, October 18, 2015

The disappointment of stupid parental dreams

N doesn't want to take piano lessons anymore.

We started lessons when she was 8, mostly on a whim.  She struggled with math, and I knew all the research about music instruction possibly helping kids with math.  Plus, I never took music lessons as a kid.  I went to parochial schools, and it wasn't even an option to learn instruments; there was no orchestra or band as there was/is in the public schools.  I wanted her (and the boys) to have some private musical instruction experience.

Since I didn't know how to read music, I began lessons, too, so that I could help her and maybe help motivate her.

Last year, she began playing viola in orchestra and continues now in 6th grade, although that may end too since she is talking about foregoing orchestra in 7th/8th.

Our last piano lesson was in late May, and she didn't touch the piano until last week when I made her in order to prepare to restart lessons.

She complained that she can't remember the notes because she is getting them confused with alto clef, which she uses for viola.  She just doesn't want to do it, but she won't say she doesn't want to do it because she doesn't want me to be disappointed in her.

What I had to explain to her today is that agreeing to do something you don't want to do just so someone else isn't mad at or disappointed in you never, ever results in them being pleased.  She doesn't want to play piano anymore, which means she has a terrible attitude about practicing, which makes me angry and frustrated.  It is better to disappoint me once than to continue to frustrate/disappoint me every time she half-ass practices.

I told her, "Yes, I will be disappointed that you stop playing piano, but I'll get over it."

And I will.

I also explained to her that parents sometimes feel disappointed in their kids, and it really has nothing to do with their kids.  It is them.  The problem is the parents.

Like after college, when I interviewed at a big cigarette company.  I was 21 and fresh out of undergrad.  I was offered a job making probably 40K in a supervisor position on a factory floor.  I turned it down and took an editing job where I started at 17K a year.  I didn't want to smell like menthol cigarettes, and I didn't want to supervise anyone, especially not someone 20+ years older than me who might rightfully resent some ding-dong telling him what to do.

My dad couldn't wrap his head around the fact that I turned down "such a great opportunity."  He was a manager at another big local company, so this sounded like an amazing position.  I didn't disappoint my dad, although I felt like it at the time.  He was disappointed because he would have loved to have that opportunity if he had been in my shoes.  But he wasn't, and I had to make a decision that I could live with.

As it turned out, working at the editing company allowed me to get my master's degree (and the company paid half the cost).  The cigarette company eventually closed down its plant here, so I would have been unemployed or had to move away from my family/friends.

I told N this story today, and I told her that sometimes she needs to just be honest with me and not worry about whether I'm disappointed.

And I need to remember that even though I think I don't have secret dreams for my kids, I really do deep down.  And I need to sometimes be disappointed that my kids' dreams aren't my own.  

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