How do you teach a kid to be confident without crossing over into arrogance? That's what we're working on with Biscuit.
Monday night at his piano lesson, Biscuit impressed his teacher. His teacher asked Biscuit to play a song he's been working on, and Biscuit did a good job on it. He counted well. He paid attention to the dynamics (loud and soft). He just had a real intensity about in his playing.
His teacher and I traded glances, nods and smiles. A silent agreement that we both noticed what was going on. And that should've been it. But no. The teacher had to made a big fuss ... out loud.
"He just has a concentration that you don't see in kids his age," the teacher said. "That's not flattery, Kim, I mean it."
"That's really good," I said.
"I can just see the talent," he said. "He just very talented, and it's coming out now."
It was wonderful stuff to hear, but the whole time, I'm thinking, "What on earth would you say this stuff with the boy sitting right in front of you?!"
The piano teacher's house has white carpet, so we take our shoes off in the foyer. So any time I want to talk about Biscuit's progress, I tell him to go put his shoes on (a room and a half away), THEN I ask how he's doing.
Oftentimes when we're leaving, the next student is coming in. And there's crossover time to chat as we put our shoes back on and the next student and parent are taking theirs off. So we talked to a boy a little older than Biscuit and his mom. The boy has been taking lessons for almost two years.
As soon as the boy walked into the music room, he banged on the piano keys.
"Remember how we talked about not banging on the keys?" the teacher asked.
Just then, the boy started playing a song that Biscuit learned to play about a month ago.
Right in the middle of putting on his shoes, Biscuit looked up at me with his mouth open and said, "Mom, that's not how ..." And before he could finish, I slapped my hand over his mouth.
"Shhhh!" I whispered. "Don't say anything else until we get outside."
Once we were outside, I said, "Whisper, and tell me what you were going to say."
"That's not AT ALL how you play that song, Mom," Biscuit said. "He wasn't playing it well."
"Listen," I said to Biscuit in my serious mom tone. "You don't criticize how someone else does something. That boy is playing that song the best that he can. And you can play it the best you can. But you don't compare yourself to him. And you don't compare him to you. Everybody does everything in a different way."
"Okay, Mom," Biscuit said in a contrite little voice.
And then we got off on a different topic, and that was the end of that.
Later, as Jeff, Biscuit and I were sitting around the dinner table, we talked about our day, and then there was a lull in the conversation.
"Hey guys," Biscuit said. "There is someone at this table who is VERY talented. Do you know who it is?"
Are you kidding me?!
Jeff and I looked at each other, then both raised our hands. "Nope," Biscuit said. "It's ME. My piano teacher said so!"
Okay, maybe we have still have some talking to do.