My son has been going to daycare since he was 8 months old. He first started at my friend’s home daycare and then went to Bright Horizons till he moved to public school at kindergarten. While he was at Bright Horizon one evening, he came home and declared that he would be participating in a talent show. He was maybe 3 or 4 years old then. I asked him what he was going to do? He said he would tell jokes. I asked him did he need help with jokes or is he going to tell his own. He said his teacher would help. The day before the talent show, he says, he doesn’t know any, so I encourage him to tell his own made up jokes. He memorized them and was happy to go to school the next day. I left early from work to go to the talent show and watched kids display talents, magic, Rubik’s cube and what not.
It was the summer camp class’s turn and I realized there were plenty older and younger kids grouped together in my son’s class. When it was time for the jokes, one of the younger kids went up in front of the crowd, refused to say a single word. People encouraged, cajoled, he just refused. Next was my son’s turn, he was watching this sitting on my lap, and suddenly refused to go up on stage. I asked him a few times; no he was adamant about not going. The teacher glared at him!
I let him sit on my lap, we continued to watch the rest of the show and started to drive back home. My son declared that he never wants to participate in a talent show again. I was not sure what I should say. Should I tell him it was fine not to do that or should I try to convince him that maybe next time he can pick something else that he feels good about. I tried the latter; the advice did not gel well. So I settled on the former. When I almost reached home, he said – Mom, Can I learn the piano? Bright Horizon ran a piano class and some kids went to it. I said sure. He explained to me, playing the piano could be his talent. This way he said he could go up on stage and play the piano and never have to say or speak a word. Kids always are smarter than their parents.
I signed him up for piano lessons. The piano teacher was an elderly gentleman about 75 years old and loved teaching kids. My son loved going up on stage, playing the piano and just having fun. He enjoyed the classes and maybe also learnt a bit of piano.
We moved houses and my son now started going to the local public school. I had forgotten about his piano lessons. After a few months, my son reminded me that I should sign him up for classes again. I was happy to see his interest and asked some neighbors, friends and signed him up for one of the best teachers in the neighborhood. The teacher was strict and meant business. She taught him correct technique and taught from 2 different books, every class. She expected her students to practice every day for at least 20 minutes. When we went to her students recitals, I was awestruck. The kids played Beethoven, Bach and Mozart and many more compositions amazingly.
My son had no stage fear anymore but he started having the piano class fear or piano practice fear. As the lessons advanced, it was mostly a big crying session at home to get him to practice at least 2 times a week. The teacher was relentless; she called him smart but lazy. Three years went by with much struggle. His piano lesson books looked scary to me now. Musical notes close together and of all sorts and fully covering each page. Some days when it was time to go to the class, he would literally drag his feet, walk inch by inch and then get to the door grudgingly. I tried being strict, I tried being patient. I didn’t know how I should fix it or even if I should fix it at all.
Last week, it was the day of the class and the same morning I was leaving on a work trip. I had to send him to class with his dad and I knew they would fight about the class that evening. Thinking about it made me stress even more. I couldn’t cope anymore with his piano. I gave him an ultimatum, told him I was tired of making him do the piano. I would let the teacher know that this would be his last week and then he will take a break from music. He seemed happy and relieved to not go to class that day.
After I came back from the work trip, I started feeling guilty. My son seemed emotional at having to quit the class, all his friends would still be learning. But he also did not like the stress the class was giving him. I wanted to make this happy and nice again for him.
So what did my son like doing? He liked playing tennis and badminton. We did not have any expectations and there was no homework. He liked going to chess club. We had no expectations and did not insist on practicing everyday at home. He liked Math and Reading. We were happy with his work and rarely insisted that he practice at home. And of course GAMES and TV!!!!! So that was it.
I talked to him about the piano class again. Told him I only wanted him to enjoy the music he was playing. I did not mind if he just learned one line of the whole song in a week or maybe a month. I called the teacher and told her the same thing. This week I saw my son going to the piano himself and playing the just the 2 lines his teacher had picked. I see him happy and relaxed with the music again. This was not work, it was going to be fun!