Last Night’s Adventures in Bad Parenting

25 01 2011

Last night was a rough night in the parenting corner for me, though it began innocently enough. We received an email from the director of my daughter’s school play asking that all of the little munchkins, of which she is one, practice their little munchkin, the witch is dead songs and dances for at least 15 minutes a day. It went a little like this:

Tiger Dad stroked his beard. 15 minutes? Hah. We’ll do a 2 hour practice marathon! She’ll be great!

A single, chilling glare shot at me from the kid who would have no part of that.

1 hour?

Another glare, with a smirk this time, as if to say, “Dad… you’re so cute, but no.”

No? No… okay, how about the 15 minutes that your director says he wants?

Grudging acceptance on her part as she launches into the whole, the “house began to pitch” part and when she gets to the high note, “which was not a healthy situation for the wicked witch,” she invokes a glass-breaking falsetto voice. Now, I was in choir in high school. I was even in choir my first year in college. I won’t claim to be a great singer, because I’m completely not, but I get the principles and have a better than average appreciation for technique. Again, not saying a lot, but I know she can hit the note if she supports it with enough air.

How was I, however, to convince her that she could do it? I tried to reasoning with her and just explained how air can support higher notes and how she could work on her breathing. Her response was a big, “why bother?’ because she thinks she sounds great. Her words, not mine. My response and why I’m a horrible person, father, man and creature: “No, it sounds like you’re stabbing me in the ear with a dead cat.” I do like to mix my metaphors but even though that one clearly got away from me, the message struck her like I had just brutally sacrificed a puppy on the dinner table.

Then came the tears. I felt about 3 inches tall, but I tried to explain that I knew she could do it and if she’d just try, she’d be very proud of herself when she did do it. More tears. Had to bring the wife in for extra support. I tried guilt-tripping her. Nothing was working, except finally our promise to sit there and patiently work on it just a few minutes longer.

So, when she finally calmed down, I patiently did scales with her, just so she could get a feel for her own range. You know the type if you’ve ever been in a choir or had a voice teacher, where you stand there and sing numbers up and down ad nauseaum. During these, however, she actually did hit the “witch” and “sitch” notes on her own, so I made her hold it for a second, which she did. Then when she stopped, I calmly told her that that was the note that she was saying that she couldn’t hit and now she could.

So, we took it once more from the top and you know what? She hit the damn note. Clear as day. Even has a cute voice. It’s not going to win any voice contests (yet! For she will be a star!!!), but it’s cute and doesn’t make anyone want to cry. And I leaped out of my seat and did a B.J. Raji in the endzone dance, and she laughed and was, in fact, very proud of herself and super happy the rest of the evening, content in having learned the magic of working on something until you get it. Yay for me, but even much more so, yay for her. Success, but at the price of just my soul.

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3 responses

25 01 2011
Anthea

Sounds kind of like a parenting win to me. ๐Ÿ™‚

Waterworks are dramatic, and intensely felt at the time, but if she’s anything like I was at that age, the tears are already forgotten, and Dad’s dance and praise when she hit the notes will stick with her for days, if not her whole life. ๐Ÿ™‚

25 01 2011
robdougherty

Thanks, Anthea.

I actually ended up having plenty of time to have my big parenting fail of the night with the 3 year old’s bedtime later, though I decided to leave that out in today’s post. Ah, the little victories.

26 01 2011
elirosswriter

Ah yes, I remember those days, when I felt like I’d ruined my daughter’s life, or at least convinced her that her mother was a hopeless harridan. And yet, here we are, nearing her college graduation, and still speaking! You’ll get there too.

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