The kids mom, from before she moved in, pointed out to me that I don’t have the most positive attitude. I don’t think that’s actually the case, but I worked to be more of a positive person, to be a better parent, make her happy, and to be a generally more positive person. She felt it was important to be encouraging to the kids, and be positive to whatever they were doing at the time. I actually took this to heart, along with many of the other parenting advice she’d offer as I careened through the transition from single guy, to parent of 3.
With this in mind, it always shocks me when a situation comes up where she does something so against her own policies of parenting. (This is where you get to read about one of them, in case you didn’t see that coming)
In going to the marching band events, football and basketball games, my son has become enamored with the trumpet. He thinks the trumpet players are the coolest in the band, and when he gets to band he’s going to play trumpet. Never wanting to be one to miss an opportunity to feed their interests, I checked with the music teacher at his school, to get her opinion of having an instrument beyond his cello to play, (the school requires strings in 4th & 5th grade). She said he was doing well with the cello, and other than the fact that he might not have the lungs at 9 to power a trumpet, she thought it was a good idea. She recommended an instructor, and told me to let her know if i needed anything. I checked with the high school band leader, who likes the little guy, and he offered books, and advice, and looked forward to having him in the band in 5 years. Then I offered to rent him a trumpet, and have him take lessons, if he was willing to commit to 5, and the trumpet didn’t supersede the cello. If for any reason he didn’t like the trumpet after 5 lessons, we’d quit the lessons, return the trumpet, and he could move on to something else. He was thrilled.
The next time I saw him, after a few days at mom’s house, he said, I don’t think I want to play trumpet. I said, why not, he said, well mom says it will be too hard trying to learn 2 instruments at once, so I don’t think we need to get one. I wondered what his mom really said, before it went through the translator that was my kid. Then I realized, it didn’t matter what she said, it mattered how he took it. I told him that the option was there if he changed his mind, and that I had been looking forward to him driving me crazy practicing all the time, and left it at that. Then I sent an email, outlining the research that had gone into the decision, and that it seemed that whatever her comment to him had been, it had been considerably less than positive. She apologized, and said that he’d caught her off guard with the idea of a second instrument, and that of course it was fine with her if he played. I asked, if he brings it up again, to please be encouraging, or at least neutral.
Weeks went by, football season turned into basketball season, and weekly he got to hang around the band room before and after games. One of the trombone players took a particular liking to him, and told him he needed to get started, if he was going to be good. At the point he started talking about being a trumpet player again, I made the offer to get him a horn. He said… let’s just rent, in case I don’t like it.
I didn’t hesitate this time, went out and picked up the horn, arranged the first lesson, and he’s now driving me crazy with practicing all the time. The trombone player is telling people he’s responsible for this little guy playing trumpet. And, I heard a sentence I’ve never heard with any instrument from any kid…
“Dad… can we PLEASE go home…. “
“So I can practice my trumpet”