Sunday, February 14, 2016

Sensitive sounds

We’re taking a break on Ben’s violin lessons. “Forever?” he asked me hopefully. My musical boy, I am sad. After so much work and research into the right sized string instrument and beautiful learning philosophy (Suzuki), the kid just wants to rock. I showed him Ashley McIsaac and other violin rockers, but kid-level violin is just too boring I guess, too slow, too classical. He soaks up all the information at lessons, but it rarely goes past soaking to actual playing. He is a sponge in general though, especially when it comes to music of all kinds, picking out the different instruments in a song, identifying rhythms by name. I thought this was one of those essentials in his life, go to school, learn to swim, learn music. Life or death core stuff. [For the record, I am aware of how privileged we are to consider music lessons, how 1st world all this moaning is].

Well, we learned some things. Firstly, and it’s not shocking news, we are finding that Ben is a highly “sensitive” child. It’s not a diagnosis or anything and is often a strength. “Sensitive” applies to 20% of people apparently, and describes those who take in a lot more stimuli than others. They are generally more introverted, more reactive to social and noisy situations, have "strong feelings" and are more perfectionist… They are more likely to wait, assess before jumping in, and to need down time to process stimuli. Violin was just too much pressure, too many people, too much noise without enough motivation to move past those hurdles.

We also learned that his Maman (me) was taking it all way too personally.  I have been feeling disappointed. I really wanted violin to be our thing, something special and ours, a connection point, a project. Every time he wouldn’t stand with the other kids (always), or would refuse to hold his bow, or to practice with me (even with candy reward systems; he loves the occasional candy he gets!), it hurt me. I realized I felt embarrassed (my own issues of shame) and more importantly, I felt rejected by him. This made me angry, unfriendly and juvenile, further pushing him away from violin/me.

Our relationship is more important that any music lesson success rate. A solid family base is everything, the foundation we hope he’ll build his life on. I want him to feel that I support, rather than stifle who he is. Our agendas often differ, and I am trying to let go and let that be ok. To let him develop his wonderful self at his own pace.

I didn’t promise Ben that we were done forever. But instead of group class this week (which we’ve never missed), we spent the afternoon building a snow castle with steps and windows and reinforced walls, all lumpy and DIY and wonderful. He was really happy, we were really peaceful and we built something, together.

To be continued…


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