February 22, 2010

You Win . . . I Quit!

Edited to add:
This is a picture of Big C at the recital on Saturday.  I DO NOT OWN A BABY GRAND!!!
If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know that I proudly wear and flaunt the title of “Meanest Mom On The Planet.”  One of my ingenious ways of maintaining that title is to force my kids to do things they hate.  Like chores.  And homework. And being nice to each other. And actually kissing their mom on the cheek.
When the older kids got to that magical age where activities like scouts, sports and multiple play dates began to fill their schedules, the Hubby and I put together a little plan to help reign in the chaos and tame the calendar.  The plan was this:  They could choose one activity to participate in and we could choose one activity for them to participate in. With two {and now three} kids ‘of activity age’ this was our best solution for controlling insanity and limiting chauffeur time for me and maintaining some open time in our calendar where we could just be a normal family at home.

Big C has consistently chosen sports as his activity.  He plays basketball in the winter and baseball in spring and fall.  Hannie B has switched between softball, art classes and drama club.  RedDog has enjoyed teeball. 

The Hubby and I decided early on that as our choice of activity, we’d like the children to attempt learning to play an instrument – something neither of us did as children.  After scoring a deal on a piano, we enrolled Big C, Hannie B and in lessons. That was four years ago.

Here’s the part of this post where I’d like to tell you that it has been a smooth ride.  It has not.  There has been a lot of whining and some crying and some yelling and even some throwing of piano books.  And much of this has been on the part of my oldest child. The. Boy. Hates. The. Piano.

The plan was to have him continue with piano until he earned his Eagle Scout award, after which time he’d be free from the bonds of piano servitude forever, and would hopefully be able to plunk out a hymn or two if ever called upon.

But after careful consideration and considerable frustration, the Hubby and I decided that it was fruitless to continue throwing hundreds of dollars away month after month on something that caused so much contention in our home and made our kid miserable.  And now we are quitters. 

Big C played his last recital on Saturday.  He is done.  I am sad about it, but not because I lost and he won.  I’m sad because it was a joy to me to hear him play a tune on the piano.  In place of piano we have decided, with excited approval from C, that he will participate in our church choir.  It seemed like a better fit, considering how much he enjoys being in the school choir.

Meanwhile, my little princess Hannie B loves the piano, practicing the piano, showcasing her songs in music class at school, and will continue on with lessons until I die or the piano breaks.


Apis Melliflora said...

Don't think of it as quitting. Really, Big C is just making time to do something he is more passionate about. He is not quitting, but striving in a better direction and starting something new!

{Disclaimer: writing as someone who endured piano lessons. Also married to someone who was scarred by piano lessons.}

Lastly, when we force at least one of ours to take piano lessons, we'll be looking to you for moral support!

AmberLee said...

thank you, these things are so not easy. it's so much effort invested. you know, with 4 yrs of piano, now he has the solid background for anything musical.

this is totally everything we're dealing with, not being too busy and how hard to push violin lessons. i love your system of 1 + 1.

kmorin said...

Great, Kellen starts piano today. It is her first lesson. She seems excited. The piano is being delivered Friday.
I hope this is not a big mistake! Although I am starting piano Thursday and am looking forward to it very much! BTW- Going to see New Moon at dollar theater tonight with a bunch of friends. That makes 3 times- do I have you beat???? HAHA

MelancholySmile said...

Great solution! I now wish I played an instrument-- though I'd prefer the cello to the piano. :)

Jessie said...

Oh, the piano wars! I have experienced this as both a child and a parent. My mother is a gifted pianist, so me and my 3 sisters all took lessons from age 5through hi school graduation. My one brother was never forced to play because she said he had no inclination (we all still think this was totally unfair).

I understand your frustration. I think you made a wise choice...it will save you all so much misery. Somehow I'm still getting Harry to keep playing, but don't know how long it well last. Stu's just started this year. They both fight me on it everyday.

P.S. You have a Baby Grand??! So jealous. My dream for someday. They are so expensive!

Sparcam said...

Sometimes you just have to do it! You gave it the college try. It takes a wise parent to know when enough is enough. The compromise will be worth it!

Alison Wilde said...

This story is "my story" just 30 years later!! However, even years after I screamed bloody murder long enough for my parents to say "mercy" to me taking piano lessons, I decided on my own I wanted to take piano again, and now I LOVE to play! You guys did the right thing in my book.....give it a few years Beethoven will return :)

Kasey Hunt said...

I took lessons for 6 years. My sister took piano lessons for maybe 2 and my mom lost the fight with her. I liked piano. I still have fun playing. She never liked it, but later foundd her talents in other things. I'm glad that you made him stick to it. Hopefully he change his view on piano and one day thank you!!

KitKat said...

I feel your pain. I have a house full of would-be quitters, but they have to stick it out until after the May recital, AND they have a substitute some other art activity. I can't tell you how many times I tell them to practice and then I hear banging, moaning that "I HATE the piano" and sometimes a body even falls off the bench!