Last Friday, Thomas and I received an email from Kyra’s school announcing a Brown Bag Concert series every day the following week. I noticed that four of her classmates were performing. As we brushed our teeth that night, I remember telling Thomas that I felt terrible. First, I was clueless about whether there was a sign-up sheet or how students were selected. Second, I had started to teach Kyra piano for about a month fairly informally on the weekends. And most of that time, we would get into fights because she insisted on figuring out the notes on her own. Third, having hated performing as a child, I couldn’t believe that I felt Kyra was missing out on something.
Thomas said, “Well, I didn’t know about the concert series either. Besides, I would never perform if I didn’t have to.”
“Me too! So why am I even upset that Kyra isn’t performing?”
He laughed. “Is she even ready?”
“No,” I said. “We’ve been kinda goofing off with the whole piano thing. I wanted to make it a fun thing. So we haven’t really had consistent lessons.”
“Well, there you go. Why make things stressful?”
“Yeah, you’re right,” I said, twisting floss tighter around my finger. “But, I can’t help feeling like I should’ve done more. You know with her piano lessons or preparing for the concert. I’m worried that she’ll miss out on an experience.”
Unwinding the floss, I continued, “But then, I always hated my mother for making me perform. All the stomach aches, stage fright, obsessing about the mistakes I made in front of the whole world! No, it’s better this way. I’m happy that she doesn’t have to suffer through all that and I’m relieved that I don’t have to stress about her performing.”
Thomas just shook his head, “You are so confusing!”
When I picked Kyra up from school on Thursday, she grabbed my hand and asked, “Mommee, how come my friends got to play the piano and I don’t?”
“Do you want to ask your teacher?”
“Okay!” She pranced off to her teacher’s side. I helped her get the words out and nearly shriveled when I heard the teacher say, “There was this big sign-up sheet in the front of the school.”
Before I could apologize, the teacher said, “You know what? Robert decided not to do perform tomorrow, so if you want, you can have his slot. Or even better, you can always play the piano during show and tell.”
Kyra drifted off while the teacher and I explored various options. So when I put Kyra’s jacket on and asked her what she wanted to do, I was surprised to hear her say, “Play tomorrow.”
“You don’t have to if you don’t want to.”
“I want to,” she said without any hesitation and then chased after her brother.
That night, she ordered all of us to sit down and be her audience. On her first run through the song, I heard a few mistakes and tried to play along, but she snapped at me, “No, Mommee. Don’t touch the piano. Now, sing.”
We tried. But after a few attempts, she said, “I play by myself.” And that was that. She ate her strawberries and said she was going to bed, “I’m ready. I’m good.”
Thomas and I looked at each other with apprehension. She had a tendency to start the song, stop, turn to her audience and say, “I made a mistake.”
In the morning, she practiced the song one more time repeating it three times. I told her she only had to play it once, but she insisted, “No, I like three.”
Then, my baby girl was off to school and I didn’t see her until the show. She lounged in her teacher’s lap, cool as a cat. No fear. Not even in need of any Mom or Dad hugs.
When the music teacher announced her surprise performance, she ran up to the piano and climbed onto the bench. Then with legs swinging back and forth, she played it through once and paused to check out her audience. Then repeated the song two more times. The music teacher winked at me because we had talked right before the show and after hearing Kyra’s attitude the night before, she told me I was in trouble. She said she was exactly like Kyra when she was little.
We still can’t believe the chutzpah of this girl. Whatever might be the source of her audacity, we agreed that this moment was one of our proudest parenting miracles. The next morning, for the first time ever, she cleaned up her room without anyone asking! Maybe kids innately know when they have achieved something on their own and it’s a major boost to their confidence?