My oldest daughter has a confidence problem, but in the opposite direction. She believes that every time she tries something new, she will be the absolute BEST at it, EVER. It could be bracelet-making, scooter riding or in this particular case, flute playing. Before she has even started she has decided that no one will ever surpass her abilities.
I don’t help much because I’ve never been good at saying, “Look kid, you’re just not THAT great.” How does one keep a kid’s abilities in perspective without shooting down their dreams? This particular issue raised its ugly head recently when my daughter joined the school band.
She decided that she wanted to play flute and was thrilled to tell me that joining band was not only FREE, but they also just GAVE you the instruments. Not sure why I bought it because joining band, it turns out, is a costly venture. The instruments also cost about as much as a prosthetic limb, so we decided to rent. We had JUST gotten the thing home when she started blowing on it repeatedly but was totally incapable of making a sound. This was a great treat to her little sister, who had listened to her brag about what an excellent flautist she was going to be (yes I know, it’s a terrible word).
The little sister came home with a harmonica that day as well, because it’s hard to say NO when you’re dropping hundreds of dollars on one kid & the other asks for 8 bucks. So, the little one produced her harmonica and proceeded to toot away. She played every song she could think of, and this is essentially what it sounded like.
“Listen Mommy, it’s Jingle Bells!” (BLEE-BLAH-BLEEE-BLEE-BLAH-BLEEE-BLEE-BLAH-BLEE-BLAH-BLEEEEE.”
“Listen Mommy, it’s The Alphabet Song!” (BLEE-BLAH-BLEE-BLAH-BLEE-BLAH-BLEEEE…you get the point.)
This was maddening to the big sister, who couldn’t produce a sound, other than one shrill, breathy note on her flute. That’s probably why she snatched her little sister’s harmonica and started her own BLEE-BLAH-BLEE party through the house. A screaming-girl-fight ensued, but the little one got her harmonica back at some point. I know this because later I saw it tucked under a blanket with her American Girl Doll and a stuffed Kitty Cat, like some bizarre slumber party.
The harmonica has proven to be quite educational for us all though. Just yesterday, the oldest girl created a One Man Band by playing the harmonica with one hand and cranking a music box with the other. Their father said it sounded like the most depressing parade ever. Then, at dinner the 6-year-old told me she could teach me how to play.
“See Mommy, I can’t teach you how to play the last note in a song. You just do this. BleeeeEEEEEE! And now you know how to play harmonica!”
Well thanks Lucy! I guess I do. Now, if I could just find a band that needs a last-note-harmonica player, we’ll be good to go.