Twin girls often sing and play instruments at the front of our church. Their music reverberates through the air and envelopes the room. My daughter fixates her eyes on them and absorbs the sounds. On a random Sunday service, my daughter’s eyes sparkled as a realization hit her. “I want to play music and perform at the front of the church,” she proclaimed.
I naturally signed my daughter up for piano lessons. Excitement filled my thoughts: Our untouched piano will finally be used; she’s going to love playing it; what a great way to start her music journey.
That was four years ago.
I knew piano lessons would change my daughter’s life. I didn’t expect it to change mine. The teacher poured love into my daughter’s soul during challenging moments. Witnessing this taught me life-enriching lessons in love. Here’s what I’ve learned:
Listen with Intent
My daughter’s brain fires off many thoughts in varying directions every minute. Piano lessons start with her relaying multiple stories from the day’s events. It proceeds with a cycle of playing and story telling. The teacher listens with intent, asks questions, and sometimes even comments with life-giving advice. The lesson ends with a smile on my daughter’s face.
Being heard validates my daughter’s self worth. She feels cared for and important. No matter how busy I am or how insignificant my daughter’s conversation may seem, I try to look her in the eyes and offer my full attention. Sometimes this takes 30 seconds and sometimes it lingers longer, but it always satisfies and calms her.
Engage with Joy
“I learned a new game,” my daughter exclaimed to her teacher part way through a lesson. The lesson paused and they sang the See See My Playmate lyrics and performed the hand clapping motions.
Playfulness builds attachment according to Dan Hughes, Attachment Therapist. I try to be mindful and engage in a playful manner on a regular basis. A funny face, a happy dance, or even a chase up the stairs reaps benefits that extend beyond what the eyes see. These little moments don’t require much time and I sense the shared closeness.
Persevere with Patience
My daughter lied on the floor during her piano lesson while the teacher explained a few concepts. “Get up,” I wanted to say but decided otherwise. Will this faze the teacher? I wondered. Nope.The teacher ignored her restlessness and persevered with patience.
Parenting my daughter challenges the best version of myself. Behaviours resulting from ADHD exhaust me. My instinct tells me to talk firm, my fatigue tells me to turn a blind eye, but my patience tells me to see the needs behind the behaviour. Patience brings insight that determines the best course of action. I strive to persevere with patience daily.
Set Boundaries with Love
My daughter’s attitude escalated to an unacceptable level a couple times during her lesson. A sulky demeanour, a refusal to listen, and a sharp tongue left the teacher with no choice. She cancelled her lesson on the spot. The teacher set boundaries.
Boundaries are important because they establish the rules of the relationship. Our golden family rule is to treat one another with respect. Insults exceed this boundary. They result in re-dos and/or healing the relationship through positive actions when I respond optimally.
My daughter performed at her piano recital was last week. She beamed as she played a few songs which included her three-minute composition. Thank goodness piano is not like riding a bike because we grow from our struggles. Piano stretches my daughter’s capacity to focus and challenges her capabilities. She’s progressing and so I am thanks to the lessons in love.