Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wake Up Call

The rule is, Aiden practices 30 minutes a day, Lyndsay practices 60.

Do they love it? Not so much.

I have taught both of them piano, but last summer I made the decision to farm them out to a friend of mine who also teaches. With my 12 (paying) students, and being a mom, and taking care of the house, and school, it became too easy for me to put off teaching my own kids, even when they would beg me for a lesson. "I'm tired, let's do it tomorrow." They both do well on piano and continued to show interest, so I felt like it was worth it to pay someone else to move them along.

But with children, interest wanes. I see it with my students, I see it with my own children. Music practice is hard. It's relentless. Just when you master one piece, you start all over on another from the ground up. Music practice also builds confidence, though. When you attempt to do something hard, and find that after time you can do it, there is nothing that beats the thrill. And, kids look forward to and enjoy their lessons much more if they feel prepared for them.

So, the rule is, Aiden practices 30 minutes a day, Lyndsay, 60.

Yesterday, Aiden came home from school and had a little bit of time before my lessons began and before he was getting picked up to go to a friend's house. I asked him if he wanted to do his practice then, or wait until he got home. He chose after he got home. (duh) I reminded him that I had school and would not be home, so he would have to be sure to get it done. He promised me.

I got home from school at 10pm. First question I asked Lyndsay (who was still up with Dylan watching 24 on Netflix) was whether they had both done their practice. She had, Aiden had not, despite the fact that she and Adam both reminded him. Now he was sleeping.

Oh, dear. I hated what I felt like I had to do.

I went into his room, and woke him up. "Aiden, get up, you need to go do your practice."

He didn't stir at first, and then with a repeated nudge, he sleepily sat up and said, "What? Mom, you're crazy."

"Get up. You gave me your word, Aiden, and you are a boy who keeps his word, so go downstairs and practice your piano."

Not happy.

He protested, telling me he would do extra tomorrow, how tired he was. "Aiden, I gave you the choice, and you promised me. How can you sleep knowing you didn't keep your promise? I'm helping you have a clear conscience so you can sleep better." My voice was getting louder. He got up and sat himself down on the bench. I set the timer.

He played "I Feel My Savior's Love," with a little more anger than I think was intended. So, I sang from the kitchen as I loaded the dishwasher, hoping to lighten the mood, "I feel my mother's love, when she wakes me up to practice!"

He told me to stop.

He got through his 30 minutes and went back up to bed. I went in to check on him, and he had some tears in his eyes. I told him how much I loved him, how much I appreciated him practicing, and how sorry I was that I had to wake him up. Gave him some kisses, and wished him a good night. My heart ached. Sometimes it's so hard to be tough as a mom.

I wondered what I'd meet with Aiden this morning. He came down, and I said, "Good morning, Aiden. I love you." He replied with the same, and after a few minutes, he added, "I'm sorry about last night, Mom."

Oh, I love that boy! He's such a treasure.

When he gets home, it's 30 minutes on the piano. But then, I may take him for an ice cream cone. I can't be too tough.


Alejandra said...

You are such a consistent mom, I know how hard it is to be consistent and how easy it is to let things go when we are tired. What a great lesson you taught him! I agree he deserves an ice cream :). Thanks for sharing these great mothering moments!

Anonymous said...

I went through something similar with my son, David. I wondered at the time if I was doing the right thing forcing him to practice. He is now 17 and loves the piano. He practices hours a day on his own. It's something that brings him joy in his life.
Sadly, this weekend he broke his wrist riding motorcycles, and now he can't practice for a couple months. David's really bummed, but his 13 yo brother, Jacob, is jealous as can be. Jacob would give anything to get out of practicing. Life just isn't fair. :) Keep up the good work! Your kids will be glad in the long run.
Sandy Ross

Luisa Perkins said...


He will not put it off again.