A Lesson Learned

26 Feb

My daughter experienced great disappointment today.

And I’m happy about it.

Before you call DCFS, let me explain.

Two months ago she was given a piano piece to learn for a contest she was going to.  She’s gone to contest four years in a row now, and has always done well.  She loves performing in front of people, and rarely gets nervous in these situations.  I’ve always admired how well she handles playing or auditioning in front of other people.

At the contest last year she practiced every once in a while before the big day.  When she played her piano piece in front of the judge, she did okay in my opinion.  She played it a little too fast and messed up a few times, but it was okay. The judge, however, gave her a first superior.  A FIRST SUPERIOR! She walked out of the room with a puffed out chest and a big head.  I walked out of the room muttering to myself….

She was good, but she was NOT first superior good.

So this year, she gets her piano piece.  It’s a little more difficult because she’s a year older now,  but she waited until Monday to begin practicing.  She put in some time here or there between volleyball practice and homework.  Then Friday night, she realized she was not ready.  So she sat for hours in front of her keyboard, practicing.  Hubby and I were totally impressed with how diligently she was working through the difficult parts, but we knew she had a long way to go if she was going to be able to play well in front of the judge.

By the end of the night, she had it memorized, but still stumbled through the difficult parts.  This morning, she practiced on the real piano.  Of course those keys are much heavier so it made it more difficult to play.  She practiced for a few hours on that before it was time to go.

She was nervous all the way there.  LIke I mentioned before, she doesn’t usually get nervous, so I knew that she knew she wasn’t prepared.

We arrived in her designated classroom just in time to hear the young girl before her play.  Then it was her turn.  She sat down at the piano, played the starting key, and waited for the judge’s “go”.  She made it through the first two measures, then asked to start over.  She was allowed.  The second time she made it to the difficult part, and didn’t just stumble.  She froze.

She plunked around for a little while, then turned to the judge to see if she could start over.  Once again she was allowed.

The third time was NOT the charm.  She plinked and plunked and never did figure out the notes for middle of the song.  It was excruciating watching her struggle.  I can’t believe she didn’t just turn to the judge and tell her “I quit.”

Instead she somehow managed to end the song, and the judge encouragingly led the applause.

When the song was over, my heartbroken little girl walked slowly back to me.  She looked at me with tears rolling down her cheeks.  “I just couldn’t remember how it went…”, she cried.  I felt my own eyes brimming with tears.  I hated seeing her so sad.

The judge returned her piano copy, and we walked to the hall to wait for her score.  Once posted, she asked me to go look.  We knew what it had to have been, and we were right.  It was a “second”.  Similar to a ‘c’ on a report card.

I wiped her tears, gave her a hug, and tried to comfort her.  I also reiterated the point that next time, she should probably get a little more practice time in, so that she’s more prepared.

It was definitely a hard lesson for her to learn.  But I blame some of it on last year’s judge.  I think adults these days want the kids to feel proud and self-confident, so they praise them for everything – earned or not.  So she never felt the drive to work hard on this piece.

As a teacher, I saw many projects turned in that was obviously done with or even by the parents.  What are we teaching our children by doing this?  They receive an A for a good project, but they didn’t do the work.

It’s definitely difficult to watch your children experience disappointment.  But it’s a great lesson to learn.  And I have a very good feeling that next year she will practice diligently and EARN her first superior score, because she’ll know what she needs to do.

And that’s why I’m happy.



Posted by on February 26, 2012 in Everyday Living, Family, Parenting


Tags: , , , , , ,

14 responses to “A Lesson Learned

  1. towardshealthylife

    February 26, 2012 at 5:51 am

    You are right there is a difference in between raising self-confident children and luring them into thinking they are champion at something they are not. Not always easy to point that we are proud of them but that they need to practice to get better. 🙂

    • shadowrun300

      February 26, 2012 at 11:52 pm

      Exactly! She’s a very confident girl, and I’m glad about that, but I think she sometimes believes she’s going to do well with no effort at all because she’s over-confident. This was a good lesson for both of us to learn.

  2. Mike

    February 26, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    My mom has said to me that one of the hardest parts about raising a son/daughter is standing back and watching them make their own mistakes so they can learn. I can see that. Kids learn more by disappointment and crushing blows to their ego than they do by listening to mom and dad nag. (I did, at least.) I think you’re right. Next year, you’re going to hear her practicing a lot more before the big day. 🙂

    • shadowrun300

      February 26, 2012 at 11:50 pm

      Oh my gosh. It’s extremely hard. And I’m not good at it by any means. I want to bail them out all the time! But I’m learning as well, that I can’t keep doing that. So yesterday was a good lesson for me as well.

  3. Abby

    February 26, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    YAY! I wholeheartedly agree, although I know how hard it is to watch your own child struggle.

    We really do learn best from our mistakes, no mistaking! As a teacher now, too, I really have to bite my tongue sometimes when I see work done by the parents – and other examples. How do they think that is helping?

    Nice job, Mom!

    • shadowrun300

      February 26, 2012 at 11:48 pm

      We all want to see our kids do well, and we think we’re doing the right thing by helping them, but if it’s not their work, how are they supposed to feel pride for doing well? My daughter did her ENTIRE science project by herself. We did not help her one iota. She received a second place for it, and was a little disappointed. I explained to her ALL the things I was proud of her for – taking the project on herself, writing the papers, displaying the outcome and presenting it to the judges. All of that was HER work, not the work of parents like most of the other projects were. Of course she would say that I’m just too busy to help, and she may be right, lol, but either way, it was a voluntary project and her effort in it was tremendous. She also knows now how she can improve, so she can do better next year. If I had helped her, it would have been ME that needs to improve.

  4. agg79

    February 26, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    That has been one of the hardest parts of being a parent, learning to let them fall. In my mind, that’s the only way they learn to walk on their own. We had similar lessons with our son and we’ve learned to let him make his own choices, set his on pace. It is hard, but it does tend to build character. I think you did a great job, mom, even if it was a hard lesson.

    • shadowrun300

      February 26, 2012 at 11:56 pm

      I’m learning it too. I admit it’s much easier on my heart to soften the fall, and even easier to keep them from falling in the first place. I’ve allowed them to make mistakes, but I tend to bail them out more than not. She bounced back pretty quickly from the disappointment, so that should be a comfort to me to let them continue to fall at times.

  5. Jules

    February 26, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    That definitely has to be hard to see your child struggle, but I agree – sometimes it is needed for a good quality lesson.

    • shadowrun300

      February 27, 2012 at 3:55 am

      From the very beginning of their life, it’s hard to see them sad, so our first instincts are to make them happy. I get mad at myself all the time, because I always want to fix their troubles and make their pain go away. I know I should be practicing ‘tough love’, but I’m too much of a softie. I need to toughen up, however, because as soon as my oldest turns 20… he’ll need to feel some tough love, so I hope I’m strong enough to give it. :/

  6. meleah rebeccah

    February 26, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    Awww… watching them struggle is heartbreaking. But, like you said, she learned a valuable lesson from it. Maybe next time she WILL do a lot better and EARN a higher mark.

    • shadowrun300

      February 27, 2012 at 3:49 am

      She’s got a natural talent for the piano, but she’s used to things coming easy to her. I certainly hope she doesn’t run from these contests because she’s nervous about failing. But I don’t think that will be the case. She was very forthright with her friends about how she bombed it. So I don’t think it ruined her pride.

  7. territerri

    February 27, 2012 at 12:43 am

    Good for you for being able to keep the bigger picture in sight. It’s so hard to watch a child struggle and suffer. But when they do so because of their own lack of effort, it’s a lesson they need to learn. So many parents wouldn’t remember that THAT is the true lesson in a situation like this.

    • shadowrun300

      February 27, 2012 at 3:45 am

      Thanks Terri! Coming from you, my mom-idol, that means a lot. What’s so difficult is that I KNOW what they are supposed to learn, and how I’m supposed to help them learn. As a teacher, it was easy. As a parent – ugh – not so much.


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