Monday, November 17, 2008

Disaster Is Never Far Behind

Lest you get the erroneous idea that all is rosy and peachy in the Suzuki arena, let me remind you of the intense nature of my firstborn offspring. Curly Miss seldom delivers a proud-parent moment without soon after delivering a moment of equal magnitude in the reverse direction.

Case in point Monday afternoon.

It was with some hesitation that I bundled my daughter into the big, blue stroller and headed off to Suzuki group Solo Day. She would have to sit quietly and listen to other soloists before being able to play in the big group play-in at the end. Since sitting quietly is as impossible for her as differential calculus at this point, I definitely had my reservations. I should have skipped it altogether.

We got there deliberately twenty minutes late. I figured that shaving off some time that she had to sit there never hurt. What I did not take into account was the fact that the room was packed. It was so full I could not find two seats together when we quietly sneaked in between songs. The recital was being held in the fellowship area of a local church which included among other things an electric fireplace with a seat-sized hearth. Due to the lack of seating I chose this as a location for us. I set our coats and violin on a nearby table and Curly and I settled in to listen.

The footfalls of doom approached as Curly immediately became restless. She crawled along the hearth and back to me. She sat up on the edge of the nearby table and let her feet swing to and fro. She began whispering to me. Frowning I told her to be quiet and sit still. She obeyed briefly then was soon squirming again.

The hammer fell when her friend J. and his dad walked into the room. A fellow Pre-Twinkler, he made a beeline for Curly and she in turn rushed to see him, in the process accidentally catching her foot in the strap of a nearby cello case. Down off the hearth tumbled Curly and the 1/2-sized cello with a hollow-sounding thud. My heart stopped beating. My daughter was fine, scrambling to her feet and attempting unsuccessfully to untangle her foot. But the cello... oh, no, the cello....

A tall, well-groomed, intimidating-looking woman rushed to my side, anxiously unzipping the cello case. My heart, still stopped, now threatened to explode. The bridge lay in the bottom of the case, the strings, once so straight and taut, were tangled, and the neck... My eyes fell on the snapped neck, the splintered wood and I suddenly wished I could sink through the floor or that I could hit a magic rewind button and go back half an hour and never go to that ill-fated solo day. Perhaps it would be better to rewind to my decision to enroll Curly in Suzuki and make a different decision. No, it would actually be better to rewind even further and decide to never have Curly at all and to live my life in blissful childless ignorance and lack of cellos.

All this flashed as I stood there gaping at the broken cello, the irate blonde woman, my weeping daughter, aware of hundreds of parents behind me gaping at the same thing while up in front of the room an eight-year-old violinist bravely soldiered on through "French Folk Song". I wanted to disappear. I was THAT parent. My kid had just busted another kid's cello.

"I'm so sorry..." I stammered, "If I can do something...I'll pay you."

"You'd better pay for it," the blonde woman snapped.

At that moment my dumbfoundedness ended and my poor brain triggered a fight-or-flight mechanism. I chose flight. Grabbing my still-screaming daughter's arm I ducked into the nearest open door which happened to be a Sunday School classroom that was thankfully dark. I shushed Curly and began some sort of half-coherent lecture on the consequences of not obeying Mommy when I told her to sit still. Somewhere in there I must have moaned about the cost of repairing such an instrument because she mentioned it later.

At last I took my courage by the horns and headed back out there. By then the cello teacher was examining the damage. He did his best to reassure us that it happens from time to time and it wasn't too hard of a fix. The instrument was a rental and was covered by insurance and he would also get an instrument for the boy to use while his was being fixed.

The poor cellist, still shell-shocked, was distraught that he would not be able to play his carefully-rehearsed solo after all. His mother, still frustrated, had calmed down somewhat and I, since I could not be more humiliated, conveniently burst into tears.

The cello teacher, aware that solos were still being performed with ludicrous persistence in the main room, pulled us all into the Sunday School classroom where he once again assured us that all would be well. I delivered my name and telephone number, much as I would if I had hit someone's car and repeated my profuse apologies.

The woman and her son left.

I sat meekly back down in the newly vacant back row, wondering if we too should just leave. I decided to try to stick it out, although my penitent daughter still didn't sit still. We were rewarded at the end, however, when the students all played together and my little munchkin, still fully a year younger than any other student played her Twinkles right along with the best of them.

Still, I walked home with a heavy heart. I felt humiliated and angry. Sure that people were whispering and thinking "she's too young," or "there goes THAT one," I tried unsuccessfully to shrug it off. Ugh. My only consolation is that Curly got a much-needed object-lesson in direct consequences for her less-than-desirable actions.


  1. Oh Erin! I feel so badly for you. Yes, it does happen to all of us at some time or another, but I know that doesn't soften the blow any when it happens to be your turn at bat. Ugh! I hope your heart feels better soon.
    Becky T.

  2. My jaw hit the floor as I read your story of the broken cello. How embarrassing! Well, I'm sure it's a story you or Curly will never forget.
    Hope for better days,

  3. So sorry! I can only imagine the embarrassment! (((hugs))).

  4. My new student tonight asked me if I had ever dropped my violin. I pointed to two different spots where I had either dropped it or, in seventh grade, bit it when falling off the risers in Orchestra. She's now using my old violin; thankfully I haven't had any with the wonderful one I have had for almost 10 years.

    The cello teacher is right-this does happen all the time. That kid will have plenty of future solos. Why on earth they thought that kids who are 3 or 4 could sit through solos is beyond me. Couldn't they have set up a playroom until it was time for them to perform?

    Don't beat yourself up over it-I'm sorry that woman snapped at you. Yucky for her.

  5. Ouch, painful parenting moment. So sorry.

  6. Oh yeah, I would've been crying me a river. I'm sorry you got snapped at too. :( That only makes it WORSE AND WORSE. Whaaaaaaaaaa. Maybe you'll get the opportunity to show her some compassion someday...I always think that when someone I don't know flips out on me.

  7. I have 3 girls playing strings and I always dread recitals as they cannot sit still. If it makes you feel any better, my husband's cell phone went off during a performance. I was mortified.....we all have been there, so don't think too much about it.