Or Asked to Quit
Have you ever been so bad at something that you were asked to quit? It can be devastating, especially if you really wanted to participate.
In the 7th grade, I joined the track team at my school. It was a new school—a public school. This was the first time I attended a public school. I began in private schools. Back then, we called them alternative schools. (Say alternative school today, and everyone will think your kid is in juvenile detention!) But it wasn’t like that; it was a liberal arts school where all the teachers were patient and encouraging. I didn’t know how good I had it until I transferred to a public school.
In an attempt to fit in, I joined the track team. I was really bad at it. My knees were swollen and sore, and I was slow. Often, I wasn’t finishing the race because I was breathing so hard, I couldn’t catch my breath. “Maybe I have athletic-induced asthma,” I thought. My mom had asthma, so it made sense to me. Years later, I told my kids they might also have athletic-induced asthma when they had trouble running a race. My son later said he was probably just out of shape. In hindsight, that was most likely my problem too. But at the coach’s suggestion, I quit track.
Two years later, in high school, I joined the orchestra. I’d been playing the violin for a couple of years, and thought I was good enough. So, I auditioned and was placed in last chair. The teacher obviously didn’t like me. Maybe it had something to do with my pink nail polish? She reprimanded me constantly and encouraged me to quit . . . so I did.
Getting kicked out of band is a theme at our house. My husband was the first one. As a kid, he really wanted to play the big bass drum in the band at his school. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get the beat right. The entire band would come to a screeching halt because the big bass drum was not keeping rhythm. The band leader tried moving him to the triangle—without success. Same issues, different instrument. My husband was encouraged to quit . . . so he did.
When our daughter was in middle school, she played the clarinet. She was getting really good at it. She could read music and enjoyed practicing. Her band teacher was very supportive and encouraging. Then, the school got a new band teacher who called for a mandatory Saturday practice. Well, the problem was that we had already accepted an invitation to a surprise birthday party for my daughter’s best friend. I told her I would talk to the new teacher, which I did, and we attended the party. Monday morning, she was encouraged to quit the band . . . so she did.
It’s unfortunate that none of us can play a musical instrument. I may have told you that a couple of years ago, I bought an upright piano from my neighbor. I have this lovely image in my mind of us around the piano, singing Christmas carols together. I love to sing. Maybe that skill skipped a generation. My mom and aunts and uncles all play instruments—and they are good! I once gave my mom a birthday party, and all her brothers and sisters came. They had a jam session, right in MY living room. It was fantastic!
I still hope to play that piano and sing. The good news . . . it’s in my house, and I won’t get kicked out.