Thursday, January 29, 2009

Parenting: the nerve to say "No"

ay yi yi. Kids today, you know? Overindulged, demanding, irresponsible...

Middle School
Yes, No, It can't be true. Tonight our family took Thing Number 1 for an information session about Middle School. We are ALL just agog that we have a child making that big step. Eight class periods per day, electives, lockers, big increase in homework. Thing Number 1 is on the fast track for mostly accelerated coursework; I have no concerns about her academically in this transition. Socially it will be the big change that it is for everyone... especially as T1 and her bff will be enrolled in different schools.

All kids must take a foreign language and a music offering: choral, band or string instruments. The timing on this decision making is pretty ironic as T1 has been scurrying frenetically lately to improve her flute skills for an upcoming "concert" (that I fully expect to be absolutely awful...). After 4 months of weekly classes, Ms. T1 is barely able to reliably produce sound from the mouth pipe. She's able to read about 4 or five notes on the treble clef; she's pretty clueless about time signatures and their impact on notation. I know---its just fifth grade. But. I had not heard her toot a single toot until mere days before the concert... I'm pleased that I didn't strangle her that first evening when I had to position and re-position the mouth pipe for her, put objects on the floor for her to direct her wind... she HAS improved. A lot.

So after tonight's little seminar, Ms. T1 said, "I wish I didn't have to choose between choral music and band"--indeed; many a kid has felt that way. She went on to say, "here's what I think: I *really* want to take chorus. And I really want to play flute. So why don't we enroll me in private flute lessons and I'll take chorus at school." HAHAHAHAHAHAHAF*CKITYHA. No.

Did I mention that last year she "played" clarinet? Again, I don't flog people to put in their practice hours and I rarely heard a honk from that horn. So I said, "Ya know, if you want to take chorus, that's fine with me. But I'm not going to pay for private flute lessons until you demonstrate some commitment and initiative."

I think this is absolutely a reasonable approach. I think its fair. I think it encourages her to focus and follow through on her chosen pursuits. You know what she thinks? Mean Mommy. Terribly, terribly Mean Mommy.

And this is the thing about parenting: I hate it when they're unhappy with me. But I'd rather they be unhappy with me than allow myself to make decisions that don't serve the kid or the family well. I think for Mother's Day they should give me a shirt that says Mean Mommy. Better that than do nothing to shape their work ethic and life skills.

Coming Soon
A return to musical musing and a guest spot from Special K. Do tune back in!


KSM said...

Boo! You're not a mean Mommy. Well, at least you're not a mean Auntie. I guess, never having been your daughter, I wouldn't actually know about that Mommy bit. But if you're anything like your sister (which I believe you to be) you're just a very loving, caring, sensible Mommy. There's nothing better. I'm sure I was told no for things I wanted, but I feel like I've got the best Mommy on the planet. It's all about growing up a teeny bit and realizing, "Hey, I'm glad my mean Mommy did that. She was smart. What kind of idiot was I?"

Anonymous said...

I have to snicker as it is only the beginning for you. All to soon you will have 3 female teenagers at the same time. I can't imagine. You will be saying to yourself (hopefully) this is why some animals kill their young. You and Rob may turn out like Mary and Fred. AHHHHHH! They survived and you will too. LYFE Milo's Nonna

Marietta said...

just another glimpse into my future :)