I had an epiphany this morning. There’s a difference between being mistaken and wrong. Well, I knew that part. The epiphany was that I needed to explain it to the boys, and to clarify my message when I am correcting them. Because I homeschool, I’m in the position of correcting them in nearly every area of their lives. Now that they’re 12 (going on 18), we’ve got the adolescent sensitivity rearing its head.
Case in point: piano lessons. I recently took over when their teacher got full-time work and couldn’t do lessons anymore. This was not technically difficult; I have several years of piano study under my belt and am well-qualified to teach. In addition, they only had to finish the book they’re on to reach the release point. From there, they are welcome to choose what instrument (if any) to play. They should be done by the end of December, give or take a week.
For the whole time they’ve had piano lessons, they’ve resisted the idea of playing along to a metronome. In fact, I never even purchased one simply because they found it so offensive. Today when I tried to show one boy the correct tempo of a song by tapping gently with a pencil, he got so upset he couldn’t play the piece he’d just played moments before (albeit with the wrong tempo). He was actually angry, telling me that I was saying he was wrong when I never even used the word.
I had in reality complimented him twice on his playing, then said, “I’m going to pass you on to the next song, but I want you to play this one more time so I can show you something.” I then tapped along with his playing so he could find the errors on his own without me appearing to criticize. I don’t know how I could be any gentler without just letting him do whatever he thinks is good and fawning all over him from the side. And that would make me gag, so we’re not going there. A mom has to have standards.
The lesson ended early when I suggested in some frustration that perhaps mornings weren’t the best choice for lessons with him, since he got upset with me the last two weeks in the same way. I offered mornings, evenings, or find another teacher who could finish this whole thing out. Side note: since we’re saving money on not paying a teacher for lessons, I agreed to share some of those savings with the boys in exchange for their cooperation and hard work. So choosing another teacher means $3 less per week in his pocket.
He decided that we could try again in the evening.
After I’d gone out to clean the garage and settle down, I returned and explained to the boys that there’s a difference between ‘wrong’ and ‘mistaken’. They’re mistaken when they believe that a metronome is impossible to use. They’re wrong when they act disrespectfully and accuse me of meanness that didn’t happen. If they get annoyed with me and mutter under their breath and I’ve actually DONE something annoying? Totally fine. But muttering and anger when I’m doing my job? Wrong.
Maybe if I continue to define things this way, it’ll clear up some of the frustration. Unless I’m mistaken.
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Photo graciously provided by realeyez, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved