Friday, October 28, 2011

keyed up

I currently have 9 piano students (1 more to start in a week or so).

This week, one cancelled and two rescheduled their lessons.

Two failed to show up (and failed to notify me that they were not coming).

One of the re-scheduled ones came 30 minutes earlier than scheduled.

One mom texted and asked if her daughter could come 30 minutes early and sit and do homework so the mom could run some errands.

Most of the moms communicate with me through texts, so I have a record at my fingertips of any changes in lessons - as well as my calendar on my phone.  I try to be flexible and accommodating, because I know there will be days when the rescheduling will be due to last minute changes on my calendar (like the time Dad decided to go unconscious with hypoglycemia just as one of my students arrived for her lesson ~smile~).

I love my students.  I love their moms.

I want to sit down and have a talk with each and every one of the sweet, harried,  over-scheduled moms.

This is what I would say:

"You don't have to do it all.  It is not necessary for you to schedule your kids to within an inch of their lives.
Pick the things that are most important.  Spend the most amount of time (and money) on those activities that give the greatest and longest return."

Here is what we did.  We pretty much said yes to any church activity - whether it be a weekly, monthly or annual (retreat-type).  I have zero regrets about doing this.  All of the boys are still actively connected to their churches.  Two are youth pastors, the third not only attends church weekly, but goes to a weekly men's prayer/study meeting as well as a small group.

Regarding sports...after a very brief foray into pre-little league stuff, we decided that they boys would focus on one sport.  For all three of them it became soccer.  We ran around like crazy with soccer games and practices from August  - November, but then the season was done.  Then we could resume family suppers together each evening.

The boys also played basketball every Monday night at church with their dad and other men from church and the community.  Add to this biking, fishing, running, golfing.....things they could do for the rest of their lives - they led busy (but not crazy busy)  active lives.

They each had piano lessons early on but did not stick with them (and I think they have all lived to regret that, but I will not say 'I told you so' ~smile~).  Guitars in various shapes and sizes became their musical instruments of choice and they all still play (and sing!  which warms this mama's heart no end).

I will not argue against team sports because I think they have some value - teamwork, cooperation, gracious winning and losing, discipline to name a few- but I think one can gain this benefit without having to be involved in a team sport during every season of the year.

Sports injuries in children are on the rise because of extended and back to back sports seasons.

I feel a great responsibility to be the best piano teacher I can be - within the limit of my abilities. 

I also feel a great responsibility to care for their moms.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children,  to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Titus 2:3-5

As the mothers express their frustrations regarding their schedules with me, I gently let them know that they can hop off the merry-go-round.  A few of them have listened to me as I have given them 'permission' to do what they know in their hearts is best for their family.

My goal is to sit down with each one of them for a relaxing  cup of tea.  To encourage them and help them to take the long view of their children's extra-curricular activities.

One of the benefits of old age is the privilege of gaining perspective.  Some of things we think are so important when are children are little turn out to not matter so much at all.

If you are a young mom and are reading this post, you are probably tired of older women telling you to enjoy your kids while they are young.  Enjoying them does not mean you need to enroll them in every activity under the sun and speed from one practice to another only slowing down to pick up supper at the fast food window.

Cancel some of that stuff.  Pack a picnic lunch, play frisbee at the park with your kids and read them stories afterwards.  Or build a fort in the living room and have supper there every once in a while. Slow down, stay out of the car, turn the cell and the 'puter off and 'be' with your kids.

You won't regret it.


Anonymous said...

Yes, out of the 100 lessons I teach a month, there were 21 cancellations, no shows, forgotten books, sickness issues, school conflicts, or emotional meltdowns for October. I sort of look at cancellations as instant mini-vacations I have been given for myself. One solution for a family with muliple kids coming to me is that they now share one slot of time, and their kids take turns having a lesson every other week, or with whatever child is the most prepared and ready. It was a great solution for one over- scheduled mom. And the emotional melt-downs from schoolwork all seem to be resolved this week and I have smiling kids again. (I just told the parents, who were very apologetic, to take their kids home and relax, and they did.) And it is great to have some space between students....parents really do pour out their life to you. Enjoy ministering! And there was one particular son that mentioned he wished he could play piano, when he was at my house for a worship practice last week.....Smiles....Linda

Anonymous said...

Good advice I think. I'd add that sports injuries are on the rise because of better awareness and more information. Concussions are WAY up....not because there are more than several years ago. They are way up because the press has focused attention on them.
Time to "be a kid" however as you state is CRITICAL.....(and also fun).

Anonymous said...

.....and OH....I'd absolutely give ANYTHING to be able to play piano !!!!! Sing ??....well not a good idea for me.

Cheri said...

Linda, I am sure your student's parents are ever so grateful for your calm, patient encouragement.

What a blessing you are to them.

And thanks for sharing about son #3. Does my heart good.

Anon. Our youngest experienced 3 concussions in two years - we are VERY aware of the risks. Yikes.

And it is never too late to learn to play the piano. Go for it!