Even Songbirds Need to Practice

As a parent, I'm sometimes torn about how to react when my child gives minimal effort to something that should clearly receive a much higher level of effort. Is it okay to demand excellence or it is better to say, "Well, at least you tried?" She entered her school's talent show, which was held this evening. She's known about the talent show for at least a month. We spent a lot of time listening to song choices that might work well. The song also needed to be appropriate for an elementary school, of course. She chose "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz. (The song contains the word "damn" but of course we just changed it to "darn.")

I printed the lyrics for her. Twice (because she lost the first sheet I printed). I played the song for her on my iPod. I found a karaoke version on YouTube so that she could practice singing along. I knew she didn't know the words very well and yet she did not practice. As the talent show got closer, I became more and more alarmed that she was not practicing. Or maybe it was something more like annoyance?

Anyway, she sang well but bailed halfway through the song because she did not know the words beyond that point. So, part of me is thinking, "My kid rocks!" and part of me is thinking, "My kid is super lazy!" I sometimes think of that scene from the movie Parenthood where Steve Martin worries about messing up his kid (after encouraging him to play second base in a baseball game). He pictures a future scene where his son is in a clock tower, gunning down students. Someone yells, "It's Kevin Buckman! His father really screwed him up!" I don't want to push her too hard, but I do want to encourage her to develop her gift and to take it seriously.

I still think my little underachiever will someday do great things with that voice of hers.


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