“I don’t want to play the sax any more.”
“Yes you do. Now eat your breakfast and shut up!”
See? What a model parent I am. To be fair it didn’t go quite like that but the upshot was that after a fair amount of manoeuvring on my part and some judicial emailing to the sax teacher, child number 1 is happy to continue with her studies without too much rancour.
Where is it written that all middle class children will run themselves ragged with extra curricular activities? Is it something that parents think they should be doing to enrich their life, fill time after school, put on their UCAS form, keep up with the Joneses? It certainly isn’t anything new. I remember having a different activity every night back in the 70s. Music was on the list although, because we kept moving house, I had a go at at least three instruments and never reached any level of proficiency in any of them.
The whole issue of after school stuff would be a posting in itself but today I have been musing on whether I am right to encourage my children, sometimes quite forcefully, to continue with activities that they have started. I hope that I am teaching them worthy values like tenacity, that nothing comes without hard work and that being committed to things can pay dividends. I can see, with the great wisdom that I have acquired so far, that the ability to read music and/or play the saxophone is something that may prove useful and give her pleasure in later life. But does the fact that I can bash out a couple of classics on the piano enrich my life any?
Perhaps it’s just fear. If she doesn’t learn to read music now when her brain is at its most receptive, will she ever make the time again? Unlikely. It would just become one of her regrets. Or at least it would have done for me. So, in the absence of any information as to how she may view the situation in the future, I superimpose my own ideas on to her and manipulate her into reconsidering her decision to quit. Is that my role as a parent? Probably not. But that seems to be how it goes. And she really does want to play – she was just having an off week. But what happens if she ever asks again? Do I make her continue because I perceive myself as having a greater understanding or do I just give up without a fight? The right answer, as ever, is likely to be a compromise between the two.