I’m starting to get a glimpse of the enormous challenge that is effectively teaching and guiding multiple children throughout their different life stages. And my oldest is only 4. As a parent, some of your teaching methodology comes from your own experience and skill set and familiarity with your individual kids and their present needs. But a lot of it is just dumb ol’ trial and error. Trying this and trying that. Like messing with the various dials on a short wave radio until you get the right combination that taps into a frequency that works. I’ve been thinking about this, and about the great job my parents did at this sort of thing. They were always teaching, always trying, always innovating. Some things worked and some things didn’t. Thinking about all of this recently brought to mind one of my favorite teaching memories.
Growing up, the only music allowed in my home on Sunday was churchy music and classical music, and maybe The Safety Kids (not to be confused with The Cold War Kids). And even on weekdays, Oldies 94.1 and CDs like Big River and Barry Manilow’s Showstoppers was about as crazy as things got, at least out in the common area of the house. But one morning I woke up to a sweet new sound floating through the hallways of Morning Peace (What’s that you say? Oh, we didn’t tell you? Why yes, my parents named our house “Morning Peace” after touring Europe, with all its titled estates. The house has a plaque to prove it). I think it was Led Zeppelin. Maybe Metallica. At 8 in the morning. Very loud, coming from the family room’s stereo system. It was Sunday.
Bleary-eyed, I followed the sound to its source. I assumed mom and dad had died during the night and the older kids were celebrating our liberation. But instead of the French Revolution scene I was expecting, I found an awkward, confusing one. The music was uncomfortably loud, even for us kids. And there, standing in the family room was my Mom, trying to look casual, trying to look like she was enjoying herself. Mother had cracked. The older kids, having enough older kid wisdom to smell a rat, refused to participate in the charade. They weren’t going to be anyone’s patsy. They were eating breakfast at the table near by, alternating between ignoring her and glowering disdainfully at the disingenuous scene this woman in her mid forties was forcing us all to endure.
I asked her what was going on.
“What do you mean?” she yelled with a forced smile.
“Why are we listening to Z93 Rock? You don’t ever let us play this. And today is Sunday.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m having a real cool time. Aren’t you? This is neat music, I think!”
Neat Sabbath Music
I enjoyed myself for a few minutes, but soon the weirdness overcame even young me. Something shady was afoot, and even if one could get past the fact that this was a apparently a set up, having a two-person dance party to Deep Purple with your snapping mother is only fun for so long.
As it turned out this was an object lesson. Hours later we were asked how listening to this music on the Sabbath made us feel? I defiantly said I loved it (BURN!). Others probably answered that it gave them an awful, dark feeling inside, but more because mom was acting groovy than because of Hendrix’s brilliant guitar riffs.
I love that memory. You might even say I cherish it. Because, as I’ve said before, I love entrepreneurs. And I think all people should be entrepreneurs in their parenting. Always reaching and adapting and hustling. My mom certainly was, and I aim to be the same.