The Lesson in Music Lessons
Have you ever thought about how the choices you make shape the life you experience? Would it surprise you to learn that we all have habits of thought that cause a habit of behavior? Imagine it like a chain reaction:
You think something –> You feel a certain way about what you’re thinking
Your feeling prompts you to take action –> Your action provides you with results
Think -> Feel
Action –> Results
There was a time when I said, “no” to every request. “No” to signing up for T-ball, “No” to signing up for Softball, “No” to going here and going there. I had convinced myself it just wasn’t logistically possible, after all I had three young children all very close in age, I am a single parent and I work full time … and still barely scraping by. So, in my head the “No” was more about whether I could afford to pay the sign up fee, and afford to take the time off work to shuttle kids around… but a funny (not so funny) thing started to happen, the more “no” I said, the more of it I experienced. It was like I was in the “habit” of “no”. I said “no” to things that really should have been yes, not just things that my kids wanted to do and experience but things I wanted to do and experience… things that didn’t cost money and would be time that I spent enjoying myself and my family and friends.
In retrospect I nearly shake my head in disbelief at how strongly I limited my possibilities and in turn those of my kids.
As a parent, I realize that I make the best choices at the time, and sometimes they aren’t great choices. We all know that our children are going to blame us for something… the question is, “what?” HA HA HA
In one day, I changed all that. Little ‘ole me… changed my whole life in one day.
So, here I am today. My 14 year old is very involved in Minecraft, she has a server that she and her team are making ready for the general public. It’s fun and interesting and engaging and she’s really good at it. Since she started playing Minecraft her grades have improved 100%. I don’t believe in coincidences… and I can honestly say, that the year that she discovered Minecraft is the same year that she dropped her C average and started getting mostly A’s with a few B’s. Does she spend a great deal of time on the computer? Yes. Has she now been on Honor Roll every semester? Yes. Minecraft is like her music. It’s like her Softball, it’s like her clarinet or violin. To her, it’s beautiful, it’s fun, it’s challenging and the hours she spends getting better and better… slip by without any notice.
My 12 year old is very involved in performing arts, she’s an emotion child and slips into and out of the characters skin easily and quickly with a voice like an angel. She is in an A Capella group, she is in the drama club, she is in chorus, she auditions for local shows and she can be a total diva… which entails a lot of eye rolling from her sisters and myself, much to her frustration… but her talent, oh my goodness, it oozes out of her. She just becomes this different person, she’s not acting, she is Sandy in Grease, or Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird. Her dedication to the art of acting and performing is well beyond her years and many a night I hear her going to bed late after finishing her homework and I hear the recorder switch on as she falls asleep to a recording of her lines in the latest play.
My 11 year old is still finding herself, she is funny and smart and kind and doesn’t like school. She feels like she’s in the shadow of her 12 year old sister and this year she took up the drums. She’s got purple drum sticks and a drumset. She practices intermittently some days yes, some days no, and she’s a natural talent. She gets the patterns in the beats. She can read the music and understand all of the moving parts. And most of all, she has a cool thing that she tells herself and other people that she is part of… She’s also volunteered for stage crew in the upcoming show. She like the spot light, there is pressure to get it right, but not too much pressure. She is finding ways to be a part of her life and engage in it… instead of just moving through it doing what other people tell her to do.
Now, why am I telling you all this? Because it all started with me changing my “No” to a YES.
One day I had an epiphany. I was miserable, I was blaming my ex-husband for not paying his part in raising the kids. I basically blamed him for everything… until I really thought about the issue… I was blaming him for making me have to say, “no” to my kids. I was blaming my situation, my circumstances on him. It was that day that I realized that I was the one saying “no.” I could be saying, “Let me take a look and see if we can afford that” or “Let me see if someone else we know is going so they can give you a ride” I could be saying a hundred other things besides “no”. And the first thing I said yes to was music lessons.
When I started saying “yes” to music lessons, I started to call around and found there were a lot of options. There were a lot of places, some more or less expensive and all of them offering to help as much as I could to get the kids enrolled. All of them wanting to enrich the lives of my children by encouraging them in their talent. This is something that public schools, as a rule, don’t do. Occasionally there are really great teachers within the public school system that do more than just teach, they activate the child’s imagination about what’s possible, but for the most part, they have a lot of kids in their classes, they just can’t be that for everyone.
My Minecraft daughter nearly had a breakdown right before the recital where she was going to get on stage and sing… but she did it and she sounded like an angel. My 12 year old discovered her true calling was to BE ON THE STAGE. and my 11 year old learned that while she had a natural talent for humor, she didn’t enjoy being on stage, she preferred something else. These things BUILD who our children are, they create this whole different aspect of their lives and who they tell themselves they are to themselves and to other people. Where else will they get these lessons? Not in school. Not in the classroom assignment that makes the child stand in front of the class reading an oral report.
I look back at the time when the answer was always “No” and when our lives were filled with blame and finger pointing and I wish I could take it back. I was fortunate enough to recognize that I was causing the issue and that no one else was “doing it to me” but I was doing it myself. The moment I realized that I choose, that I decide, that I can’t make someone else do something and that if I wanted something instead of sitting around complaining that it wasn’t getting handed to me, I changed my thoughts, which changed my actions, which changed my results.
I want my children to understand that. I want my children to understand that life isn’t always easy, but it’s MUCH easier when you understand that each moment you have a choice. You decide. Experience life as something that you do…. not something that is done TO YOU.
I learned that all…. when I said “yes” to music lessons.