Our family is problem solving. The oven is broken so we can’t cook scones, muffins, cakes and biscuits, all those treats we really enjoy. We talked over the problem while we ate lunch.
“We do have a microwave…” I started to say. And then someone mentioned the donut maker, the toaster and the sandwich toaster. We began to
wonder what treats we could possibly cook using these bits of equipment.
“We’ll do some research this afternoon,” Imogen decided, “and then Charlotte and I will cook something for afternoon tea.”
“Don’t forget to do your music practices as well,” I said. I looked at Charlotte’s face. It had dropped to the floor. I knew instantly I had said the wrong thing.
“Of course we’ll do our music practices,” she replied.
“Don’t we always?” added Imogen.
“I know you don’t need reminding about such things,” I said. So why did I say it? “When I was a child, I needed to be reminded. I wasn’t self-motivated. Sometimes I forget you are different.”
How often do we remind children to do things? I remember a time when I reminded Gemma-Rose to be good for me, just before I went out for the
day. She replied sadly, “Of course I’ll be good. Don’t you trust me?”
Trust? Do we really trust our children to do what they need to do? Or do we think we’d better give them a reminder ‘just in case’?
I think about how I feel when someone reminds me I have to do something when I fully intend doing it anyway. It doesn’t feel good. As an adult I get very indignant. Should we give our children the same respect we give to adults?
But what if the piano practices don’t get done? Well, maybe if a child isn’t self-motivated to practise, they might not want to learn the piano that much after all.
I have heard stories about children who learnt the piano but always had to be nagged into practising. When they grew up they thanked their poor mothers for pushing them along and making them practise.
I know that feeling of nagging a child to do something. Is it really worth doing it? I feel worn out and drained when I have to constantly push a child. I also feel at odds with that child. Our relationship comes under threat.
I think I’d rather say, “You make the decision. If you want lessons, you need to practise. If you don’t practise, maybe we should leave lessons until another time when you might feel more motivated.” Because how necessary are piano lessons or any sort of outside lessons anyway? Yes, they are a fine addition to an education. And I love to say, “All my daughters play the piano.” But that’s satisfying my need, not my children’s. Anyway, if a child changes her mind, she can always learn at a later age. It’s never too late.
So Imogen is practising the piano because she wants to, and Charlotte is researching microwave cake recipes because she wants to. We want her to as well. We’ve been missing our regular blueberry muffins and savoury scones. All of us are looking forward to afternoon tea.
And I am trying to remember not to say the wrong thing, because really I do trust my children. I do respect them as people. Just sometimes I fall back into unhelpful old habits.
PS As far as I can see there’s no way to cook pizza without an oven. Can anyone solve that problem for us? By the way, the griller isn’t working either.