“My kid’s no Heifetz.” More than one parent has told me this through the years. I’m not sure if that disclaimer is to let me know they don’t have unrealistic expectations of their child, or if they think it’s a reason why their child doesn’t need to practice much, or what. But I’ve never expected anybody to be Yascha Heifetz. I wish I had had the presence of mind to ask those parents, But do you know who your child is going to turn out to be? We as parents can know our kids extremely well, but we have no idea how our children’s stories, much less our own, are going to play out.
I read an inspiring blog post a while back about being in the middle of the story, and it really struck me how bewildering it can be in the middle. As the author of that post points out, that’s where “all the important stuff” happens. But it was a good reminder of the fact that the middle is where all the conflict, all the lack-of-resolution is, too. Have you noticed how books and movies will take you to the absolutely bleakest, darkest, most confusing places before you get to the plot twist/wonderful discovery/resolution/happy ending? Being in the middle of the story is not an easy place. At the “beginning” of my story, somewhere around the time I got out of college, I thought I knew where things were going. And here I am closing in on 40, and it turns out that even though I was right about a few things, there were many other things about which I had no idea. I’ve learned that things change, that I’m in the middle of the telling of my story, and I’m even looking forward (gulp—I think) to the next plot twist.
So to bring this back to our children, we don’t need another Heifetz. Your child is somebody else, entirely, and right at the beginning of his or her story. How do you know how violin lessons will touch his life? How do you know what turns her life will take and how music will play a part? We want so much for our kids, and it seems like it would be so nice to know and understand the trajectory of their lives. But my guess is, whatever you and your child are doing right now, it has something to do with the telling of a life story, and that’s all we get to know from this side of things. My hope for each of my students is that they will listen, work hard, learn, and take joy in what they are doing. Imagine all the stories that are being told in the process.