Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Need some advice...

Help! I have a situation. This is not your regular situation and it's going to be hard to explain what life is like for Mikaela without publicizing things that really shouldn't be publicized. But, my problem is that Mikaela hates piano. (I know you are all thinking that EVERY kid hates piano, but seriously, this is awful!) She absolutely hates it. The last few months, she has consistently not practiced well and not learned her songs. She even had to drop out of her last federation and AIM performances in March. She was completely unprepared for her recital and at the last minute dropped out of that. She stalls and stalls while avoiding practicing. I ask her over and over again to practice and then I get stern and start with the consequences and nothing. She sits at the piano and cries and cries and says all kinds of rude things to herself. She makes an hour piano practice last 2-3 hours and she still hasn't successfully practiced. I can sit with her some of the time, but we can't get past the bawling and destructive self talk. I'm exhausted and frustrated and I am really wondering why I am pushing this. Now, you have to keep in mind that there are some issues here that I can't explain as to the entire dynamic of our life situation. Just know that it's not the type of life where you come home from school and deal with the usual homework, piano, extracurricular activities and dinner time and chatting with friends, etc. There's some extenuating circumstances surrounding things. I wish I could tell you all of it because I think it might help you to understand but, just imagine chaos and mayhem and times it by 10 and you might be close to what we all deal with. You might think I'm kidding or feeling sorry for myself but, I'm not!
See, here's the background. Mikaela wanted to play piano so I signed her up. She has taken lessons for four years. She has a really good, yet strict piano teacher. Her teacher loves her to death and sees she has talent and has made every exception under the sun to try and make things simpler for Mikaela. Mikaela has always fought practicing, but that is how every child is, right? But lately, things are horrible! She goes to her dad's house every other weekend and Wednesday nights as well as half of any breaks and half the holidays. Oftentimes, he does not make her practice. She will go days without practicing at his house. He has even told her to just quit. He blames me for forcing her to take piano and calls me all these terrible names in front of the kids. He will do and say anything that is opposite of what I say and do. He will never support anything and he will always sabotage my efforts. He was forced to play piano as a child and it has served him no benefit at all. He hates it and every time it is brought up it is discussed with hate and anger. So, I am asking myself why I am doing this? It costs me a lot of money every month that I really don't have. It costs in gas and time to drive her there as well as the constant supply of books that are necessary. Our relationship is suffering and I just don't want this to be the thing she holds against me. Especially, when my personal opinion is that it just isn't important anymore. I have explained all the reasons to keep playing and to just keep with it and it will get better and better. She just doesn't care. She finds no joy in it whatsoever. Another piano teacher told me that it is supposed to be at least enjoyable. She is super emotional anyway because of her family situation and the hormones and being a pre-teen and all the stuff that comes with that. I wanna know why I should keep this up? I guess what I need to hear from people is that it isn't going to kill us if I let her quit. You know...it will be okay if she quits. It's really sad because she does have talent and I hate to see it all go to waste as well as all the time and money invested so far. But, I also hate to see her end up depressed, suicidal, drug addicted, a runaway, etc. Because if anything like that happens, none of this will matter anyway. But, I don't want to give in to her and let her win anything especially if she is using manipulation. But I also don't have it in me to fight her on this any longer. And, things are really bad right now. REALLY BAD! I can't tell you what or why but please trust me that she is going through what no 12 year old should ever go through. I get really angry even writing about it. So, let me know your thoughts. I've been praying about it and I am going to the temple about it, but I still want to know what you all think. Please be honest yet gentle. I don't need any more brutality! Thanks for being great friends!

7 comments:

Summer said...

Wah wah. Drama! Let her quit. If things are that bad let her have one less thing to deal with. Nobody really liked playing the piano anyway. I always thought that thing was there just for looks.

Professor said...

Hey Larissa--

Let her quit. We insisted Kyle finish the soccer year because he had committed to a team, etc. The whole family has been miserable for the last 9 months. He complains every practice and every game. He is exceptionally talented and has several coaches recruiting him, but at the end of the season in May, he is done until HE asks to play again. It takes all of the joy and excitement out of it for the everyone when it is a constant battle.

Give her the summer off and see if she misses it enough to try again in the fall when school starts, if not, let it go. She has other talents that may develop when her energy is freed up.

Just my two cents!!

Hillary said...

As a piano lesson drop out myself, I say stopping the lessons is just fine.

When my mom finally let me quit I had been taking long enough that I new the theory and the notes, I just didn't like it. I don't regret quitting, but I do sit at the piano sometimes and play a little every now and then. I still know how to play (not very well but If I practiced I know it would come) and I have thought about getting a piano, but for me quitting was right.

Although, my mom only let me quit when I had something else I could replace it with that I did enjoy. So I traded piano for voice lessons. Piano is something she can always come back to later. My Grandma took piano lessons when she was 70. I guess my point is I have no regrets stopping piano and I am acctually grateful that my mom let me stop.

Keli said...

She obviously has a lot on her plate. Let her quit, but suggest she pick up another activity in it's place. Kids need an outlet. Some kids flourish at music, others need sports, some kids read.

I was a reader. Still am. But I took piano begrudgingly, and am glad I did. But I know that isn't always the case. I suggest doing something her dad can't take away. Books, crafts, whatever, because she needs to find her personal outlet and use it to escape from him. And herself.

Man, motherhood is the pits sometimes. Keep it up, you're doing great!

Jill Johnson said...

Let her take a break. Maybe take the summer off. I am just waiting for this with Carter. He loves it and always has, but I know it can't last forever. He was getting a little sick of it and then we ended up being there all summer, and all he wanted was his music.

Joby, Julie, and Cru said...

Let her quit. Use that time to do something special with just she and you. Your family is going through a difficult time and piano may not be what she needs to make her feel secure right now. If its true gift of hers she will find it again later.

Larissa said...

SUMMER...I said be gentle. Gosh! You're such a poo head!