I refused to make more money.
I was asked to teach in different schools and music organizations around Chicago. Some of them were ready to pay more than what I was making per hour in my own studio. They were proposing a nice schedule, lots of students, lots of money. It would have been a steady income, a rewarding position, maybe even prestigious. I would have had those elusive benefits. Yes, but that was less time with my family. And putting my time into someone else’s hands. And putting my budget into someone else’s hands. Meaning, ultimately, putting my fate into someone else’s hands. And my children in all of that? Will my boss think about them? Not in this country. I don’t know much about America, but I know that much: money/job trumps everything else.
In this environment, me, my kids, our band, we are truly weird. A lot of people assume that this is achieved through abuse, tyranny, pain, toxic manipulation. It can’t be through care and love, can it? You see, our band is a reflection of our family and the atmosphere we live in. And a lot of parents do not have that in their homes. And it is absolutely not OK to remind them they are failing at the very thing they are supposed to care for the most. And they are so ashamed. Their children behavior is hit or miss because their schedule is too busy. Their children is a mystery because they have lost the communication. What is it that 12 years old Jimmy is thinking about? Is it the next level of Halo 45? Is it math? Is it drugs? Nobody knows but Jimmy who has stopped talking to anybody and feels so awkward in his life. Jimmy might go with bad people his age. He might let his grades slip. He might pick up a gun to deal with his internal rage and show the world what raw anger looks like. Yes, I am talking about that also.
Do I have a solution?
Yes! Sacrifice for your child. Learn music with her, and help the music teacher give a sense of discipline to her, a sense of joy through work, through perseverance. Show her that music is important because you dedicate time and effort towards it (That’s my definition of being a role model). Sacrifice a taboo and talk about violence with your child. Teach them about it. Tell them about the internal violence, the one that makes young girls develop eating disorders. Tell them they don’t have to double down on it by learning karate or Kung Fu. Some children are not into sports. They can play music. Violently if they want: ask the percussionist. They can do woodworking, that’s physically demanding. They can do gardening. They can clean the garage with you. Break a trend and do all of those activities with them. Regularly and often. 3, 4 times a week. Break an education rule: thou shall not take the children away from the screen. Have a program for them, a program where you spend time with them at least 5 times a week, 2 or 3 hours each time. You guys can cook, clean, learn or have fun (fun through an activity, I’m not talking about going to the water park 5 times a week). And follow through on your own activity with your children. Have a good relationship with yourself, a disciplined life: that will influence your children. If you decide to do pottery together, find the time, the money, the motivation, the effort, the words, the nurturing to keep it going. That is your job as a parent. And do it regularly, 4 or 5 times a week. Find a way to keep your child enthusiastic, interested. You make little challenges, little games, little achievements. Stay away from your own phone. Don’t go into sugars and circus aka alcohol/junk food and TV/smart phones.