"Are my ears bleeding?"
My husband assures me they are not. I don't necessarily believe him. I touch my ears gingerly and wonder if encouraging music lessons was the wisest decision I've made as a mother.
In 4th grade my daughter was obligated to learn the recorder as part of her music class curriculum. That's when I first started to appreciate elementary school music teachers. One 9 year old practicing the recorder must pale in comparison to a room full of 9 year olds all blowing to their hearts' content on something that appears to be a cross between a kazoo and a clarinet.
We encouraged our daughter to practice... outside.
Yes, we led her to believe that the sound of the recorder was best enjoyed by birds, squirrels and other small forest creatures. Unlike beloved Disney movies, we never saw a small circle of forest animals dancing around her as she played, but we encouraged her to remain hopeful to that possibility. In turn, she became a pretty good recorder player.
Her devotion to the recorder led to her desire to participate in the 5th grade band. She chose to play the trumpet. That's about the time I started praying for a mild case of otosclerosis. My respect for elementary school music teachers grew exponentially and I became convinced that they were either saints or deaf.
We live next to a dairy farm and one afternoon I came rushing into our living room ready to rescue the calf that was being slaughtered. Certainly cruelty to animals is no laughing matter, and to think my precious children were cruel enough to lure a baby cow into our home only to torture it was beyond shocking!
What surprised me upon entering the room was that it was empty except for my daughter and her new shiny trumpet. I looked for the helpless creature, but clearly no calf had ever entered my home. That's when I realized a trumpet can make a sound that mimics that of a dying calf.
My daughter beamed, and I was filled with momentary pride at her musical devotion.
She said, "Hey, mom, watch this!"
With that she opened the spit valve on the trumpet and let the spit coat her thigh before rubbing it in with the palm of her hand. Without missing a beat, she resumed playing.
The bile rose in my throat, and I wondered what a decent mother would do in that moment. I remained greatly relieved my child wasn't abusing any farm animals so I just sat to enjoy the performance.
(Addendum: All of her practicing is truly paying off. Now she can actually produce sounds that mimic music! To compensate, my son has started taking guitar lessons!)