The Lessons

He sits to practice
Protesting. Under duress.
The notes come out clumsy.
Out of key.
Frustrated I take his hands.
Guiding them.

Much better now.
The notes are in tune and sweet.
It’s not the instrument.
I’m relieved.
I take my hands away and he continues.
Still on key.
Tempo slightly slower.

I leave the room to work.
Listening, straining to hear his work.
He maintains for a while.
Loses concentration.
Slips back into mediocrity.
Is he fine with this?
Is this all he wants to be?
Maybe it is the instrument?

I return and guide his hands once more.
The pattern repeats.
Over and over.
Each time he holds on a little longer.
The notes a little more precise.
The tempo a bit quicker.
I get a glimpse inside and know.
He wants to be a virtuoso.

He’s just not ready yet.
He needs more practice.
More patient instruction.
More love.
His instrument is fine.
It thinks and reasons well.
He just doesn’t know how to play it yet on his own.
I love him.

Written after a difficult period trying to develop discipline in one of my son’s schoolwork. The piano is a metaphor for his mind and the music was actually a series of math lessons.