Wednesday, November 2, 2011

It really wasn't my best

I want to be working on my "novel" project, but I have a story that is like one of those song ear worms stuck in my head. I was on my way to my grandmother's to cut those unsightly ten pieces of shrubbery that had sprouted since their last clipping, and my mind became a barrage of thought fragments regarding how annoyed I was, what to write next from where I left off last night on NaNoWriMo, and working through the events of yesterday. Now that I am back home, the agitation has subsided, but I do have this other matter to attend to before my mind can be free to roam to someplace fictional.

Yesterday brought one of those tough parent lessons. Not only are our children's celebrations our celebrations, but their disappointments belong to us as well. Our son did not make it into the select orchestra group at his school. There were three who tried out, possibly making it feel even worse that two were selected. He and I talked for awhile about our feelings and questions about what had happened. He made such interesting points. That is not to say he was correct on all fronts, but he wasn't just complaining.

Just a little paraphrasing to get us on our way quickly...I told him that he needed to not let this disappointment take over his enjoyment of playing the viola, and also reminded him that orchestra is an actual class that he is graded for. He told me that when he saw the list, it took over his head and he struggled to get past it. This disappointment was real and one that he truly had to own. We suggested some conversation points he could make with his teacher to help him better understand her decisions and move on. We then decided that I would send an email on behalf of us both.

The response to my email came this morning. She explained the numbers and acknowledged how hard my boy had worked for the week leading up to auditions. She was also kind enough (truly, not being snippy) to tell me some places he fell short. She has tried since last year to get him to push himself, but said it usually only happens for competitive times. She mentioned that he has natural abilities and could be playing at a much higher level.

I know that this was not my audition, not my deal, not my problem. I know this, I really do. I also know this is not something I would stand on the street corner sobbing about to strangers. I get it. However, what I could not shake was this feeling, after reading the email, and playing it over in my head for a few miles...In some way, I did own a piece of this defeat. I asked my son over the summer how badly he wanted to get into chamber orchestra. Bad enough to want my help? He decided he did, and I told him I would push him and hold him to the task of practicing. Guess what? I didn't. Sure we'd rally every now and then, but if he tried to blow me off, I pretty much let him most of the time. I know it was his challenge to rise to, but let's reach back to our teen years. I was certainly no overachiever. Yes, he let himself down, and that is an unpleasant feeling. Yes, he does need to learn to be independent. Between us here though, I feel awful that I said, out loud-to him, that I would help him do this, and turns out he wasn't the only slacker.

If you are still reading, thanks for letting me clear that muck out of my head. This taught me a very valuable parenting lesson, and I am sure that at some point I might figure out what that was.


  1. Nanowrimo? I just sorta started. I frankly don't see how I can work, spend time with the kiddos, blog, AND Nanowrimo at the same time. Plus I only have an idea suitable for a short story at best. We'll see how it goes.

    Did you tell him you owned some of it?

  2. That is too bad. We share the triumphs of our families but we also all feel the disappointments. I hope he is able to move past this quickly and not dwell.

  3. I am a new follower - but your story spoke to me. Tomorrow we learn if our daughter gets the lead in her 5th grade play. I suspect she will not yet she is hopeful. I have been practicing how we will handle if she does not (just to help her ease her pain) and it is so HARD! I hope she handles it well either way.

  4. You will be second quessing your parenting skills and how they may have been lacking until your own are grown and have little one of their own. Fact of Life.

  5. It is really difficult for adults to admit when we made a mistake or did something less than completely admirable in front of our kids. Bravo to you, mama! You are awesome!

  6. We all learn, parent and child, all the time. A little early disappointment is actually a good thing. If he wants it, he can practice and blow them away next year.

    And what a satisifying feeling that will be!

    Pearl (over from Ann's Rants!)

  7. I did Nanowrimo two years ago...and even though I do write every day, I hate the sound of actually committing to doing it.

  8. Aww. I understand where you're coming from. But the silver lining here is that your son will learn to deal with disappointments. Let's face it. Life is full of them. And now he knows how much harder he will have to work to get something he really wants.

    I think as parents, we are all guilty of slacking off now and then. I've been trying to teach my daughter piano for 2 years now, and we just finished the first book. *sigh*