John’s violin practice has been killing me this spring.
Spring means soccer and baseball for John, and between the two, there’s little time for violin practice or even regular meals. When he does practice, he’s tired and rushed. And if you suspect that tired and rushed leads to hungry and cranky, you’re right. (Note: I swear I’m not a chronic overscheduler. But spring in Vermont is so beautiful, and so brief. Who am I to say no to two sports when the kid has been waiting to play outside sports since it started snowing nine million years ago?)
It is my job (Suzuki!) to supervise the practice time. John’s wonderful, gentle, and patient teacher tells us what to do during the week, and I’m there to “help” John get it done. Lately, this has been less like help and more like war games. John’s not one to say no directly, but he can delay in about gazillion ways without saying no. His foot hurts. His arm hurts. He can’t find a rubber band. He dropped something. He can’t play that song. He’s tired. He’s hungry. When I attempt a calm and mature, “Why don’t we just call it a day,” he gets furious with me for “not letting him play.” Please believe me when I say that there is no way for this to end well.
Twice in the past week, I’ve resorted to sheer and undisguised bribery. It looks like this: I start with two bowls, and one has m&ms in it. That’s my dish. The other one is empty. That’s his dish. He can earn m&ms in his dish by trying his hardest, but if I have to take one back, I’m eating it.
This is terrible parenting, right? If I were a better, more patient mother and Suzuki coach, I’d have a better way of getting it done. But reader, this works. He’s playing so well. He’s trying so hard. He’s so happy at the end of practice. We’re both so happy at the end of the practice. The whole experience is so positive. John gets it, too. After the first time, he said to me, “Isn’t dad going to be so surprised that neither of us is frustrated?”
It sounds wrong, but it feels right. I’m not going to do it forever, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to do it tonight.