Quitter Kid Returns to Musical Scene of the Crime
It was just at the point in my son’s musical career when a parent could start bragging online and enjoying herself. Then the little virtuoso begged me to stop the piano lessons.
Who knew that said kid a few years later would pore over all of my old music books, plunk out guitar chords for an entire afternoon and make a mother happy-cry, ruining a particularly decent mascara job.
When he barreled into the living room (where the piano stood gathering dust) waving my guitar in the air like a white flag and asking, “how do you play this thing,” I could barely stave off a heart attack from the excitement. But I played it cool, while quietly planning our duet performance under the big lights. The crowds would go wild and finally, all that parental doubt about allowing him to quit piano lessons (and violin and basketball and acting...) would dissipate.
It can be a hard call whether to let a kid quit something, especially when he’s got some natural talent. But not if all the whining, begging and nagging is finally sucking your will to live.
It may begin with a conversation like this:
Kid: I want to quit music lessons.
Parent: Is it because you’re giving yourself a terrible headache?
Kid: It’s boring. I have to play the same thing over and over.
Parent: Believe me, I know. I can hear it, even when I close the door and put in ear plugs. In fact, the neighbors offered to mow our lawn for a year if you stopped playing.
Still, this is not the time to give up. Instead, it’s time to take the child to a concert to see what happens if you practice. This could go either way. It could be motivating or you might have to carry him out when his sleep sounds are louder than the music.
Sometimes, what’s called for is some tough love, especially if the reasons for wanting to quit are not compelling. Just think, one day you can say, after yet another satisfying tweet about your talented child, “Now look at all the fun we – I mean you – are having after working so hard at it.”
At least require the little deserter to finish out the season or the lessons you already sold your collection of vintage comic books to pay for. Then, if after trying a new and hipper teacher, bribing with a “reward system” that may or may not involve an embarrassing amount of whatever it takes and nixing the dreaded recitals, the kid still wants out, it may be time to quit, or at least take a break.
After all, trying a variety of new things is how young folk find their strengths and passions. Also, there’s always the chance that in time, when you least expect it, a kid could take up some new – or old – pursuit again and the two of you could maybe get famous.
Pam J. Hecht is a writer, instructor and mother of two (but not necessarily in that order). Reach her at email@example.com or pamjhecht.com.
Editor’s Note: We extend our heartfelt congratulations to Pam for her first-place win in the Lifestyle categories of National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ annual contest.