Late-night blog rant that I'll probably regret in the morning....ready....go:
I had a little 6-year-old student I'll call D for just about 5 weeks. Cutest thing ever, but let me tell you about the rollercoaster ride she put me on. I asked her awhile ago to list some songs she likes so we could learn them on the piano, because students will usually get much more excited to practice and/or perform a song they know, right? Well, she had recently seen Fiddler on the Roof and fell in love with "If I Were a Rich Man". So I went home and listened to it about 65 times, and came up with a little kid arrangement that I knew she could do if she worked hard. When I came to our next lesson and played it for her, she lost her mind with excitement. She threw her arms around me and thanked me and promised to do everything she could to learn the song in time of for our fast-approaching recital. And during that lesson, she sure kept her word! She was focused. She was working. She was very unlike a 6-year-old in her tenacity. I left that lesson rejoicing, considering a musical connection made and a testimony born of hard work and dedication.
That lasted until our next lesson, where D could barely play a short three-note section of what we'd learned, and spent the whole lesson exhibiting ADD like I'd never seen, repeating "piano is hard" about every 5 minutes. My little, naive heart broke. It really broke. I left that lesson feeling like such a failure. The scariest part of that feeling was not that I'd failed as a teacher, but that one setback in my student's progression so easily broke my heart like that. It took the wind right out of my sails. Instead of taking it in stride and chalking it up to a bad day, in one fell swoop it cut my motivation right out from under me and I wrote her off. Just like that.
Frightening, isn't it?
Then comes the inevitable onslaught of questions: Am I an idiot for thinking she could play that? Did I push her too hard? Is this simply a lack of experience kind of thing, since I've been a teacher for about 5 minutes? Are all children rotten little monsters who hate doing anything that requires work?
I'm learning that I have very high expectations for people, including myself. I realize the story above is embarrassingly dramatic, but I really did experience those highs and lows based on a little thing like Fiddler on the Roof. It may not be so bad to have such high expectations, except for the part where those expectations are not met (which they rarely are) and the resulting crash into despair. Tell me, mothers, how do you handle this with your children? I'm terrified to have children because I'm terrified they'll disappoint me.
That last line made me a little terrified to post this...we'll see if I actually do.
God hasn't blessed me with children yet--which obviously is a very good thing for now--but what I have been given instead is a Relief Society full of women for whom I am now responsible to be a good example to, to care about, to pray for, and to hope for...which I do my best to do. The problem is that I don't think I've really learned about agency yet. Two months into it and I'm already bitterly disappointed when I see girls who don't try very hard or who just...aren't that awesome at churchy things, you know? It's not like I feel they've disappointed me personally--I know they don't owe me a thing--but it's like they've betrayed my hope in them. It's difficult for me to avoid sometimes feeling like my efforts to get people to change (or to get myself to change) are an exercise in futility...that in the end, that little girl doesn't want to practice piano, or this girl just doesn't feel like coming to Relief Society today. Heck, sometimes I don't feel like going to Relief Society, so it's not the end of the world, right? I'm not any better than them and I have plenty of examples of girls who blow me away with how amazing they are. Still, disappointment will come throughout my life. What I need practice in is shaking it off. I need to be able to maintain hope in the face of disappointment. I don't want unmet expectations to mean that I have no more desire to try. If it's having that effect on me, then I am much more impatient than I ever thought. Sigh.
Not my best day, you could say.