Thursday, October 6, 2011

Red Brown Green

Anyone who knows me even a little knows that I am a music addict.  It's how I was brought up, immersed in music 24/7.  I spent much of my pregnancy with Ben agonizing over whether it was better to start with violin lessons or piano.  It wasn't a question of if, or even when (by age 3 at the latest, I figured), but which.

So then I went and had a deaf kid.  I don't know what else to write in this paragraph; you can probably guess what goes here.

When Ben was maybe a month old -- I don't remember exactly, but it was after his hearing loss had been confirmed -- some friends came over to visit and meet him for the first time.  Two of them are professional musicians, and the other two are fellow music addicts.  Much of our conversation typically revolved around music.  We hadn't yet told them.  About the deafness.  So finally, after all the oohing and aahing and jokes about our sleep deprivation had subsided, we told them.  Everyone immediately slipped into support and sympathy mode, but I could see the dark shock in their eyes.  Or maybe I was projecting onto them what I was feeling.

What I was feeling at the time was grief.  Grieving the loss of a certain vision of parenting.  Grieving the loss of music in my child's life.  Wondering what a life without music feels like -- it still seems so alien to me.  Violin vs. piano?  Suddenly seemed a foolish, naive self-indulgence of pregnancy.

Fast forward almost four years.  I'm not sure what to put in this paragraph either, except that, well, duh, we figured a few things out in the meantime.

Yesterday Ben had his first piano lesson.  Okay, he's closer to four than three, but technically I got it in under the deadline, with exactly two weeks to spare!  He plopped down in front of Janis' piano and proceeded to play "Hot Cross Buns".  We'd been working on it at home for a few weeks now.  We call it "Red Brown Green," because we color-coded the piano keys at home.

It was a good lesson.  He's definitely not the most naturally compliant kid around (his middle name should be Pushback), so it'll take a little doing to figure out how to keep him engaged and committed over the long haul, but I'm determined to do everything I can.

I just can't quite get over it.  Yesterday he had his first piano lesson.  Even if he never has another one (and I can guarantee you that he'll have plenty), it feels like we broke the tape after a marathon, and we've just been handed a gigantic shiny trophy.

Now, ask me in a couple of years when I'm pulling my hair out trying to get him to practice whether it's still so shiny.  I'm guessing it will be, although I might not be prepared to admit it.

Oh, and Janis, the piano teacher, was one of those four friends who visited that day when Ben was a baby.  It's kind've a nice bookend feeling.  She was there at the beginning of that phase of the journey, and she's here at the beginning of this one.