A Successful Long Term Strewing Operation

Years ago, my eldest daughter Felicity played the organ at Sunday
Mass. One day we found an organ in our local St Vincent de Paul store, and
thinking it would save us travelling to the church for music practices, we
bought it. But when Felicity left home, the organ stood idle for many months.
Finally, needing space, we sent it back to the shop.

Then a couple of years ago, someone offered us another
organ. As I rather regretted getting rid of the first one, I quickly accepted
the kind offer.

“What will we do with an organ?” asked Andy. “No one played
the last one.”

“You never know… one day one of the other girls might like
to play it,” I replied.

So the organ moved in, and periodically I said, “You could
try out the organ…” hoping someone would suddenly feel like bringing the
instrument to life. But the girls only mumbled, “Maybe.” At regular intervals,
Andy muttered, “No one is ever going to use that organ. Can’t we get rid of it?
It’s taking up space,” and I replied, “No, maybe one day…”

Today, ‘one day’ arrived.

This morning, Sophie announced she was going to practise the
piano. As she was finishing, she suddenly remembered the organ. “I wonder if I
could play the organ.”

“You could turn it on and have a go,” I said, trying not to
sound too excited.

So Sophie and Gemma-Rose headed to the family room where the organ lives. Soon I
heard, “How do you play an organ?”

“I don’t know but there’s a book out there somewhere,” I
shouted back.

A short while later, I could hear someone playing a few notes. “I’ve worked
it out. I even know what to do with this pedal.” Before long I could recognise
the tune of one of Sophie’s piano pieces. And then she appeared. “I found 60
lessons for the organ. I put them all in order. They’re all there.” Sophie’s
face was glowing.” I think I’ll add ‘learn to play the organ’ to my list of
things I want to learn this year.”

Andy wasn’t home when this exciting event took place but he
soon heard about it when he returned.

“I’m learning to play the organ,” Sophie announced. “Hey,
Mum, do you want to learn too? I could show you how to do it.”

I politely declined the offer. I’m not musical at all. No, I
get all my musical pleasure from listening to my children sing, play the piano…
and play the organ.

I know I had to wait a long time. It was definitely a long
term strewing operation. But I knew that organ would come in handy one day. I
feel like saying to Andy, “I told you so!” but I won’t. I’ll just smile and enjoy. 

It’s strange how different things appeal to children at different times. Offered at the wrong time, they show no interest at all. But with patience, anything can happen.

Now what else has been sitting around here for a long time
being ignored? What else can I subtly bring to the attention of my girls? I shall go and have a look.

Image: St Cecilia Playing the Organ by Jacques Stella
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    • Erin
    • January 24, 2013

    Oh joy!!!

    1. Reply


      It was a great moment! Thanks for stopping by and saying hello. I hope all is going well with your preparations for the new school year.

      God bless!

    • Anonymous
    • January 25, 2013

    Sue, If you strew something like a math lesson or a book to read, if your children do not want to do it, do you strongly encourage them to do it or do you let it go? I just worry that two of my children will never want to write anything or even do math sometimes.


    1. Reply

      Hi Gina!

      If no one likes my strewing I just let it go. I go looking for something else and try again.

      Sophie used to say she wasn't any good at maths and hated the subject. We dropped the online maths course she was doing and instead, I went looking for games, and whole books (not texts) about maths, as well as taking advantage of real life maths moments. Sophie recently wrote this on her blog: "I love maths. Do you?" I was so pleased to see this. I think if I'd insisted she persevere with the hated maths lessons she would never have discovered she actually likes the subject. It was the way maths was presented, not maths, that she hated.

      I guess we get worried especially about maths and writing because we think of them as fundamentals. With writing, in our home everyone writes, so there isn't a problem. It's just something we do. My kids have always followed my example. It's just as well I've always loved writing, and they picked up on that, wanting to try it for themselves.

      I read a great post recently about encouraging children to write. It pointed out that children need something to write about. If they are bursting with ideas, they will want to write them down. I should have bookmarked the article because I've forgotten where I saw it. I think it said we can give kids writing ideas by surrounding them with good books and talking about everything and anything.

      Perhaps the mechanics of writing discourages some kids from writing. In our family we all write using computers so maybe this is more attractive than writing with pencil and paper. I don't worry about spelling and punctuation otherwise writing becomes a chore. These seem to fall into place eventually.

      I wonder if insisting children do something in particular is actually counter-productive. It might just deepen their dislike for the task. Approaching the problem from a different angle or using more attractive resources or just having a break for a while might all help. If it's just a confidence problem maybe some gentle encouraging support is worth trying.

      I hope this helps!

      God bless!

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