Our kids are learning to play instruments. My family is a very musical one and my sisters and I (as well as our parents and grandparents) play instruments and sing. In fact, one of my majors in college was music, along with German. So it seemed a natural thing to start our kids on an instrument and see where it takes them, right?
Except that it doesn’t feel natural to me, strangely enough. I have one kid (who will remain nameless) who wants to quit. After only a few weeks he wants to quit the guitar. This is the kid who pined passionately for a chance to learn to play the guitar when we lived in India, and now? His fingers hurt. And he wants to be done.
This is a great learning opportunity, you might be thinking. This is a chance to teach him about perseverance and goal-setting, you imagine. And you’d be right, strictly speaking. This is a teachable moment. The only problem is that I am overcome with inward scorn and disdain when I see my kids wanting to give up. It drives me bonkers. I find my inner drill-sergeant coming out.
Don’t tell me your fingers hurt! Everyone’s fingers hurt, son! Play through the pain! I gave birth and that hurts a million times more than steel strings on your fingers, Private! When I say jump, you say…
But then I also have this floating-out-of-my-body feeling while I’m “motivating” my son because I know that I have a quitterly spirit too. But then, I didn’t quit in India, despite my feelings. But then, he’s a kid and hasn’t lived as much life. But then, my parents didn’t let me quit on my instrument and it got me a scholarship to the university of my choice. But then, I don’t have it in me to homeschool my three kids and have arm wrestling contests about long division AND THEN force my little quitter to practice. But then, maybe he’d thank me some day if I had forced him. But then, I just can’t do it because I don’t have it in me.
Ah, motherhood. It doesn’t mix well with a variety of neuroses.