We went to the Conservatory of Music's Open House last weekend and Adeline was enthralled from the moment we walked in the doors. It's in a beautiful complex of Hogwarts-style buildings complete with turrets and stained glass, and it just hums with positive energy and I loved being there as well, even though we were surrounded by hundreds of other families, which is usually totally NOT MY THING. The instrument petting zoo was our first stop and I sincerely think Adeline could have spent the whole day there. She patiently waited for her turn to try each of the instruments and managed to make music on all of them, except the flute. Well, making MUSIC is a far stretch for the noises that came out of the clarinet and saxophone. Oh my... I ended up a clarinet player in the school band (I wanted to be a french horn player, but that tale of woe is for another time) and I now have a LOT of compassion for my Mother. NOTHING sounds worse in the world than the squawk of an inexpertly played clarinet! Adeline was really, surprisingly good on the brass instruments - especially the trombone - and she loved trying out all the strings including a double bass. Downstairs in the percussion room Adeline let loose on the drum sets, timpani and marimba and spent a realllllllllly long time playing the piano. She was playing the piano while many children cycled through their turns on the drums, and Adeline declared them all "my band - we're very good musicians". Then Adeline got to take some mini-lessons on the piano and the violin and she was beyond thrilled. The violin class started out with the children holding cardboard violins and bows and Adeline was a little miffed, but she went with it and was really focused. Finally it was time to play a real, tiny-sized violin and Adeline was in heaven.
So she's been talking about violins and violin lessons all week and has been tucking her ukulele under her chin and scraping a drumstick across it...
This has sparked a lot of conversations between David and I. About what we want for Adeline, what she wants for herself, and how to best help her grow. David (who would prefer Adeline be "the kick-ass drummer in a hot chick rock band") thinks that just letting her hang out and play video games and eat gummies is enough, and that when she develops a passion for something (he's hoping for indie rock, zines, film-making, and sticking it to The Man) we'll support her. My view is that if you have a life of lounging around, eating candy and staring at screens, how are you ever going to get inspired to do something more? Of course I believe in hanging out and down time and family time, but I also believe that to find a passion you need to be exposed to a lot of things. I fervently believe that children who are excited and involved in activities outside of school are less likely to find themselves in trouble, especially in the teenage years. I know once Adeline starts school there will be much less time for anything (all-day kindergarten is a rant I'll save for later) so my opinion is, why not let her try lots of things right now and see what she likes?
Maybe it's different for David and I because in some ways I can't help but project my own girlhood dreams onto my hopes for Adeline? I was raised by a single Mom and my Grandmothers in a small town. I read a lot as a child and I tried so many things - basket weaving, cartooning, guitar lessons, ballet, theatre, pottery and many more. We weren't poor, but we were a long long way from rich, and we travelled to the big city to experience the ballet, the orchestra, museums and art galleries. The summer I was twelve I made my way through the collected works of Shakespeare and I really thank my family for always having quality books in the house, and for our hundreds of trips to the library. I quit ballet even though I loved it, because already at seven my body wasn't a ballerina's and I knew it, and I could see the judgement in my teacher's eyes. I quit guitar even though I really enjoyed my first year because in the second year my teacher wanted to take away the music I loved and have me "get serious about classical guitar". I didn't speak up, but I wish I had. I tried theatre and discovered I was good at it, which completely surprised me, as I thought I was far too shy to crave the spotlight. I found a deep and passionate interest in history and art and archeology early on, and read everything I could on the subject from the time I was old enough to read, but when it came time to choose a University major I didn't pursue archeology because I had always struggled in math and felt I couldn't pass the chemistry courses. I took what I now see as the easy way out and got a Fine Arts degree in Theatre. I loved every minute of University, but I deeply regret that I didn't follow my heart. I didn't know at the time I was choosing a major that what I REALLY wanted to be was an art historian and not an archeologist at all, and by the time I realized it, I felt it was too late for me. It wasn't too late at all, and I really regret that I didn't immediately jump up and start pursuing my dream as soon as I figured it out.That interest and curiousity is still there - we have a running joke that every time David leaves the room I change the channel to a documentary (often British, always scholarly) about something David finds insanely boring like neanderthals or medieval architecture. It's a joke, but it's also pretty much true - those are my favourite shows. So now we get to the "I'm a poor role model for my daughter" part of this increasingly long post. I never pursued my grand passions and ended up in a job which wasn't even remotely related to my University major. I was good at it, but I never loved it, and the pay was terrible, but I chose it and then stuck with it because 1) it was easy and 2) I was too loyal and too afraid of being alone and too fearful of change to kick out a bad boyfriend and get on with living for far too many years in my twenties. All those things are true, but they don't make me a bad role model every single day, which I've realized is what I am right now. So here's what it comes down to - Adeline only sees me as her Mom. The one and only thing I do every day because I really enjoy it just for myself is read. Other than that we are either doing something together (which I love - please don't misunderstand) or I'm taking Adeline to preschool or classes, endlessly cooking and cleaning and folding the laundry, or wasting huge amounts of time on the computer. Adeline should see me as a person who has interests and goals and dreams and who does things that I enjoy and I'm good at. The thing is, I don't know what those things are anymore or how they fit in my life right now.
So there's that. No solution. Admitting you have a problem is the first step towards fixing it, I suppose?
But, because I can't/won't/don't know how to fix myself, I contacted a violin teacher that comes highly recommended to us and we're meeting with her next week to see if Adeline might be ready to start lessons.
Yes, I did always want to play the violin as a child...