Day 27: Mostly fist-bumps, but a little heartache, too

I remained tired today, so much so that I took a nap, a rare occurrence. (Fingers crossed I’m not getting sick.) Last night I wrote about the firepit gathering we had with friends down the street, but I was too tired to write about the rest of the day. It was a very busy day.

And since today was pretty uneventful (last soccer game of the season, watching some Goosebumps and football, housework, nap, Nutcracker practice), I’m going to talk about yesterday a little bit more.

After ten days of being stuck inside following her spay procedure, our dog was very happy to finally have her sutures removed in the morning. We brought her home and played with her outside before eating lunch and heading to Park Day for a couple of hours. We left a little early so that we’d have time for a snack and practice before heading to Boy’s monthly group violin lesson, together with his teacher’s other young students. (The older students meet later.)

Boy and I were both anxious about this group lesson,  because at the last one, I’d had to physically remove him from the church when he started crying uncontrollably after making some mistakes (and only after some whispered attempts at calming him down failed miserably). Oh, and then he convinced me to let him go back in and try it again, lost it, and had to be removed a second time. Oh, and while I was trying to calm him down he repeatedly poked me in the face and also tried to kick me. It was awful.

But we had called his teacher later that evening and she was very kind and understanding, both to me and to Boy, who wanted to apologize. (Basically, music teachers with 30 years of experience have seen a lot of meltdowns. Also the equally experienced piano accompanist apparently said how well she thought I handled things. I could kiss that lady.) And then his teacher’s grand-daughter, who is also a young student of hers, got on the phone and she, too, was kind and reassuring to Boy.

Boy is very lucky to have a good number of caring and loving people in his life, in a variety of roles. 

But that experience has been hanging over us for the last month. And given that Boy has been struggling with crying and other meltdown behaviors in the intervening time, I know it was on our minds. We discussed the fact that his challenge was going to be less the actual music, and more controlling his reaction to inevitable missteps and fumblings.

And it couldn’t have gone better. And by that I mean that he DID make mistakes, including the lethal everyone-else-is-playing-faster-than-my-fingers-can-go-and-I-can’t-keep-up, and he handled it like a champ. An absolute champ.

He also played some pretty nice violin.

Fist bump 'with exploding potatoes' for Boy's triumph of composure whilst playing violin in a group.
Fist bump with exploding potatoes for Boy’s triumph of composure whilst playing violin in a group.


Meantime, Girl sat in her chair, pad of paper on the table in front of her, making drawing after drawing after drawing. Completely intent. But she noted that among the new students was a girl she recognized from the ballet school. A girl her age.

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And when we got home, she got out her craft tape and set about altering her little (toy) guitar (which has real strings). “I’m making a violin,” she stated hopefully. And I, thinking that she was just playing, said encouragingly, “Oh, that’s great, honey.” She taped the guitar much like Boy’s violin is taped to mark where his fingers should go. Then she turned to making a ‘bow,’ her face intent, trying different materials. Finally, she declared, “I’m done! I made my own violin!! And I made a bow! Do you want to hear me play, Mumma?”

By this time, we had realized that the firepit party we thought was happening Saturday night was starting in half an hour, and I was scurrying around making dip for our chips, finding sweaters and mittens and hats and warm socks for everyone, but I still managed a (somewhat absent-minded) “Oh, yeah, sure!” and saw mostly out of the corner of my eye as Girl drew the bow across the strings for the first time. Nothing. No sound at all.

But…. (she said) It doesn’t make any noise. … Why doesn’t it make any noise? 

A voice that would stop any parent dead in their tracks. My heart went thud in my chest. She wasn’t playing. She believed with all of her five year old self-confidence that she was making a real violin, and a real bow, and that she was going to make music.

And then she started to cry tears.

And it wasn’t until hours later, after the party, laying in bed in the dark, that I realized. She wants to play violin so badly. She’s been asking for lessons, we’ve been telling her next year. She’s been patient. She sits and listens to Boy while he practices. We shush her and shoo her away when she tries to participate. All of a sudden I see, I really see, the way her face falls when that happens. She comes to Boy’s lessons and listens, making her drawings, never interrupting. She knows all of his songs. I hear her singing them to herself when she’s playing.

Shit I say softly to myself in the dark.

But we can’t afford to rent another violin. Could they share? We can’t afford another set of lessons. Boy has a partial scholarship, but we can’t apply for that for Girl until next year, and they usually only scholarship returning students…

Every parent has these moments, I’m sure, when the limits of what they can give their kids, the choices that have to be made, causes some middle-of-the-night heartache. This was one such moment for me.

I asked Boy today if Girl could try out his violin this weekend, just so she could see what it’s like. Sure, he said. Oh, you’re a prince, kiddo, I thought.

We’ll see what happens.

5 thoughts on “Day 27: Mostly fist-bumps, but a little heartache, too

  1. Oh, yes, that moment. I am sorry for you. But how good for Boy and you to have a good music practice! And how much he is learning! Poor Girl. If they can share, can Boy teach her? Just to start her off, untill next year?


    1. Josh, that’s exactly what I’m thinking. That maybe Boy and I can let her do a few things here and there, and show her some things, so that she feels involved. By the way, we got a Theodosia book from the library! Boy has read two chapters, and I asked him if he liked it as much as his Magic Tree House stories. He said, “Actually, maybe even a little bit better.” 🙂 Thanks for the suggestion!!


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