Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Two kid updates...

To keep the schedule sustainable, and to make sure we don't go insane with activities, we try to limit the kids to no more than two activity enrollments at any given time. Not sure if we're even going to be able to maintain that pace during the school year, especially when Rowan and Joey start getting involved in things. But this summer, we have (well, Sue has) been able to shuttle Jillian and Jason back and forth between swim lessons* and piano lessons.

* - "Swim lessons, Aw2pp?" Ya, I know. "But weren't Jillian and Jason on swim team last year?" Yup, they were. "So, how..." It's a bit of a long story, and deserves its own post. Another time. For now, suffice it to say that they have been in swim lessons this summer, and it has been a worthwhile use of time and resources.

How's piano going?

Jason's piano practice has been laser-focused. Pretty much all he does is work on his performance of Jillian's Dance of the Unicorns Dolphins Generic Creatures. (Hear his performance of this piece from several months ago at this link: To his credit, he has even done a little improvisation on the theme, and I gotta admit, it's more interesting than before. Furthermore, when he is physically present at lessons, he is fully engaged, having fun, and, most importantly, learning.

But the good news ends there. His passion for Dance of... spills, annoyingly, into his lessons. He finds ways to play it in and amongst the other things he is asked to do at lessons. Poor PT, she is so tired of hearing that music. "Anything but that!" Once he gets home, he simply does not practice what he has been assigned. He dislikes practice, and he pushes back on Sue and me when we ask him to practice. We remind him that asked to take lessons. Therefore, he needs to follow through on the commitment he made to us and PT, and stick it out through the end of the summer lesson session. But once those are over, we told him that we'll pull him out of lessons until he demonstrates that he is committed to giving piano practice the attention it deserves.

This is sort of a template for us. If our children show an interest in something, especially beneficial activities and interests like piano, reading, or sports, we'll honor their interest to the extent that our schedules and finances allow. A corollary to this is that we aren't going to sign them up for something in which they have (or express) no interest. But once they tell us "I want to do (insert activity)," we make sure that they realize what they are committing to, and we hold them to that commitment through the duration of the season / session. Which means, for the rest of this month, anyway, we are still going to make sure Jason practices, and he is still going to his final couple of lessons. But when the next round starts, I will resume my lessons, taking Jason's place.

Jason is, after all, 6. There is plenty of time for him to rediscover a more abiding interest in the piano. Or maybe he'll follow in my path, and wait 30+ years before formally taking up the instrument. Or maybe he never will. But for now, he has had his introduction, and it'll suffice until we hear otherwise. When school starts, we'll get him signed up for... soccer and basketball, I think? Or maybe horse riding lessons... I think both kids expressed an interest in those. But man, riding horses is pricey.

Jillian is just as fired up about piano as ever. She is genuinely pleased with her progress, looks forward to lessons, and, for the most part, practices without being asked. As piano pieces spin up periodically on the iPod, she often asks me to estimate how long it will take before she can play the music. Most of the time, my answer is something along the lines of "Not long."

Oh, and she has a new found interest in the music of Led Zeppelin. That's almost enough to balance out the fact that she somehow knows who Lady Ga Ga is.

Almost, that is.

- Aw2pp, who pities Mr. T.

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