I don’t mean to brag, but I’m kind of a musician. Well, I own two guitars and my interest in creating music fell apart when I realized it was hard, so I really can’t play them very well. That didn’t stop me from starting a band and pretending like I could play for just one day. Of course, my bandmates were my kids. Truthfully, I had some sudden inspiration.
You see, Thing 1 broke out the toy keyboard, and my girls are not exactly known for their musical abilities just yet. Their dancing actually is reminiscent of the inflatable tube man, or Dee from It’s Always Sunny. They’re still quite a bit tone-deaf (who isn’t?) and they have the rhythm of, well, me. Quite frankly, I was impressed, because she put together a string of notes that kind of worked. I had to make sure that this wasn’t just one of the preset options. Nope, my kid is a musical genius!
After that incredible display of musicianship, she promptly walked over to and flipped the art easel, and yelled, “SNACK TIME!” Yup, we’ve got a rock star on our hands.
So after snack time, I gave them each their choice of instruments to play. Thing 1 chose the triangle this time, an incredibly difficult instrument to play. Thing 2 chose the harmonica. I have no idea what songs have a triangle in it, but of course I have the talent of John Popper and so I immediately google guitar tabs for “Hook”. I’ll blame Thing 2 for her chewing the harmonica instead of playing it, but really, I was quickly reminded I suck at the guitar. “Hook” was a total failure. Thing 2 took the harmonica out of her mouth and said, “That’s gonna be a no for me, Daddy.” Consider my spirit crushed.
I took the harmonica away and handed her a cowbell, which she shook like a Polaroid picture. No, I can’t play “Don’t Fear the Reaper” either, but we powered through. At least for about 15 seconds. I got way too into it, obviously yelling for more cowbell. I was so into it, I didn’t even notice my kids were beating each other with a triangle and a cowbell. Everything is a weapon in this house. I have to start remembering that.
Our first jam session was a bit of a bust, but it was fun nonetheless. Later that day, we tried a family Guitar Hero session. Smartly, I gave the girls each a drumstick to play (and the drums don’t even work anymore anyway). You guessed it. It didn’t take long for the beatings to begin and the drumset to get flipped.
Alright, so maybe music isn’t their thing just yet. Or maybe ever. They’re not even 3, so their interests are going to develop and evolve over time. They’ll reroute and reroute and reroute, and I hope that at the very least we can provide them with enough experiences that they either find something they’re passionate about or enjoy the wealth of experiences along the way.
I regret not sticking with the guitar growing up. That doesn’t mean I have to live vicariously through my kids. I don’t need to force them to go down a path that I regretted not going down, or even to relive my past. There are far too many suffocating parents out there that just don’t let kids be kids. What I will constantly remind myself of is that my interests are not their interests. So while I may try to brainwash them into being Jets fans, I’ll eventually get over it if they tell me they like Tom Brady. Eventually.
I am not spouting some existential hippie nonsense like, “If your kid wants to be a butterfly, let them be a butterfly.” I’m also not saying let your kid sit there and play video games and eat Twinkies all day because he wants to. But as parents, I think one of our jobs is to expose them to as many things as we can. If there’s something that they seem to show a genuine interest for, then support them in cultivating that passion, but let them be the driving force behind it. And if that interest wanes? Let it. Let them redirect their attention. Childhood is the best time to explore and learn. They’ll find something else that keeps them happy in that snapshot in time.
With that, I can hear my kids beating each other with their latest interest, books. <Flips computer.> “IT’S SNACK TIME!”