Monday, May 7, 2012

Turning Points - uno

I was thinking yesterday about pivotal moments in our family.  We had dinner with some new friends and the getting to know you conversation turned to children.  Theirs are grown and as we spoke they kept reflecting on their own memories.  I was touched when the father started talking about the trip he had taken to Paris with his daughter to celebrate her 40th birthday.  "I wanted to do something special with each of my children when they hit that age.  Something that they would remember.", he said.  He's planning an Alaska trip with his second daughter for next year, on her 40th. 

His story helped me relax a little and note that there will be a lifetime of opportunities to develop, teach, share, love, and nurture.  I don't have to squeeze it all in by the age of 18.  So many times I've thought that maybe one certain moment is the one that's going to make the difference, for good or bad.  I was convinced that on the day that I let my youngest son quit piano lessons, I was securing his place in a life of hardship.  I thought for sure that this had the power to create a life habit of giving up when things got hard, which would then lead to poor academics and hanging out instead, which of course would lead to him becoming an immediate gratification junkie or maybe just a drug addict in general.  He was 9.
Music guitar
Music guitar (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

He's 13 now and I've been listening to him play his guitar for the last hour or more, for pleasure.  Letting go of the piano was a turning point for him.  It was one of the first times that he asserted himself and articulated what he did or didn't want on anything of real importance.  It was also a turning point for me as a parent.  It was one of the first times that I had to figure out what the real issue was and articulate what the family values were that I was protecting.  We came to the realization that it wasn't piano that was important but rather having some type of arts training, something that wasn't available in their school at all.  I let him choose what would come next - dance?, guitar?, painting?  He chose guitar.  He's still had moments where he wanted to quit guitar but they have been moments of frustration, wishing that he could master a certain skill that's still out of reach.

I wonder where he would be with music now if I had dug in my heels and insisted on having him "hang in there".  I wonder how I would be feeling now if I had insisted that pressuring a 9 yr old into "my plan" was the most important, make or break parenting decision I was going to make.  These turning points are not moments where we make the "right" or "wrong" decisions but rather places where we turn, move, evolve.  There will be more chances to correct or improve on what we've chosen - long after they are 9 or 13 or 18 or 40.
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  1. Great post, eltee! It's true... there are so many moments in life that present opportunities to "turn, move, evolve" and "correct or improve" for sure. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Insightful as always eltee!