Friday, December 8, 2017

Why I Hate Mondays (no, not the obvious reason)

The worst day of my week is Monday, but not for the obvious reasons. Before I had kids, I was the strange soul who enjoyed Mondays, seeing them as a fresh start to the workweek. The reason I dread them now is because my seven-year old son hates them and makes our whole family suffer as a result.

Every Monday at 4 p.m., he has to do the one thing he [claims] he hates most: attend a piano lesson. The entire ordeal lasts a measly 30 minutes, but add to that the painful minutes leading up to it: “I HATE piano! I want to quit!” and after it: “That was the WORST LESSON EVER. Now when can I quit?!” and you've got yourself a miserable few hours.

Quitting piano lessons would be the easiest route for all of us. There are times I've daydreamed right along with my son about the joys of quitting. Ahhhh, I think, how happy we'd be, without the piano battles. How peaceful our home would be, as we sit around playing Candy Land and baking cookies. What would I do with all that glorious free time [i.e. the 5 minutes per day I spend convincing him to practice]?

And yet. My husband and I haven't given into this siren song. We just can't pull the trigger on the dreamy quitting fantasy because we ask ourselves this: Does making life easier mean it would be better? So far we think the answer is no.

We aren't forcing our child to take lessons in order to pump up our own egos, so that at family reunions and school concerts we can bashfully accept compliments on his behalf, blushing politely. Thankfully, neither of us sees his talents as reflecting our own value; some twisted need to produce a prodigy doesn't motivate us.

We have four much more practical reasons we suffer right along with him:

  1. He'll thank us later. He will, right? Doesn't every single one of us who quit an instrument regret it? If we can endure the whining during the early years, my son won't have to add quitting his instrument to his list of regrets when he hits middle age. He is getting a gift here, though he may not appreciate it for many agonizing years to come.
  2. There's a life lesson at play we want our kids to learn-- you can't just quit everything that is either A. hard, or B. sucky. As adults, we know there are certain parts of life we simply must push on with, despite how much joy they suck from our lives. Bills must be paid, toilets must be cleaned, assignments must be completed, reunions must be attended.
  3. Piano doesn't necessarily come easily to my son, and as a result, he 'hates' it. We think there's inherent value in not throwing in the towel because something is challenging. Have you ever done anything great--- something you're really proud of-- that was easy? Me neither.
  4. Last, learning music helps in other aspects of life. For a growing child, simply the act of listening to music activates and nourishes the brain, but learning to play music coaxes the brain into boot camp. My husband and I remind ourselves often that by encouraging our son's brain to workout and stimulate all those electrifying neurons, he can grow to see his full potential and stretch to reach any goals he may dream up.

While all these compelling reasons feel rather flimsy on Monday afternoons at 3:30 p.m. when I pick up my son from school and I feel the scowl on his face even before I see it, onward we go! Anyway, didn't Nietzsche say “to live is to suffer?” If so, we're definitely living.

What do you think? Seize the day and quit, quit, quit, or keep on keeping on?

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

Find more Frantic Mama on Facebook.