There are a few things I know that I would like to pass on to my children. I would like my children to learn to cook, to love music as much as I do and learn to play at least one instrument, to know how to present their ideas in a confident and articulate manner without being intimidated by the people they are presenting to, to love reading and learning, and most of all, be self-reliant.
There are other things I want them to learn but I have realistic expectations that some of my desires will be shared by all, others rejected by all, and the rest falling somewhere in between. Regardless of how I pass my interests on to them, I know without doubt none of them will do anything the way I do or at the time I want them to.
I'm OK with this idea. I have come to realize as an adult how many of my favorite things began as things I absolutely hated as a kid. I love yard work but hated it as a kid. I love gardening which was something else I had no love for as a kid. I love the planning, the planting, the pruning, the patient waiting, and the rush of harvesting that first tomato and relief with harvesting the last.
Both of these things were my father's interests that I swore I wouldn't never do again as soon as I was old enough to refuse. I got a 10 year reprieve or so but at some point I bought a house and keeping the lawn looking nice began to make sense. Then ,even more strangely, in my late 20s, as soon as the temperature started to warm I started having an irresistible urge to start a garden.
It's funny how things work out.
Since the kids were 3, we've been learning little songs to sing in church and making little recordings and other things. I think we all enjoy this but I have no desire to make the children entertainers, musicians, or performers of any kind. In fact, if I were writing the script of their lives, show business would not be part of the narrative. Law school, Medical School, engineering, science, anything except being a musician. Ok, anything other than a musician or a politician would be good. However, if show business is what one or more of them decide to do as I have done, that will be their decision and I'll try to be supportive.
So why do I teach them about performance skills like how to rehearse, how to speak to an audience, conquer stage fright, sell your schtick to the audience, to structure an act/presentation, to tell stories, to sing as an ensemble or as a soloist? Why do I tell try to teach them the importance of humility when you have the privilege of performing and are the center of attention?
I do this because I'm certain these are skills that will serve them well regardless of what they do in life. Learning to overcome fear, nervousness, and the other stuff are incredibly valuable skills. The ability to present an idea to an audience with confidence and clarity has immeasurable value in the real world.
Still, I have these nagging fears that fingers are pointing at me that say, STAGE MOTHER, LIVING HIS FAILURE THROUGH HIS CHILDREN. I'm pretty sure this isn't true. I'm pretty sure I'm more interested in continuing to performer myself rather than being a Svengali for my children or anybody else. My performing days are far from over and I'm looking forward to the day I can have a band again and, hopefully I'll get this opportunity when it can happen in a way that I can be proud of.
I'm thinking about this because, first a particularly sensational case has been in the news lately and I volunteered the kids to appear on local TV to help promote a fund raiser for a philanthropy Jill and I are volunteers for. The group always has trouble finding a good spokesperson for the fundraiser and I volunteered before I had thought better of it.
At the time, I figured, "How hard can it be?" We'll, it was pretty hard. On the other hand, It was something I knew we could do and whatever we can do to support our community efforts,
Also, preparing for these kind of things is good practice for school since this year they have a monthly oral book reports they much present to their classmates.
Still, there that nagging fear that I'm the stage mommy.
Regardless of all my weird anxieties, the kids appeared on the local news. They were charming and well spoken and nobody did anything embarrassing and the organization was happy and I was happy and I guess all's well that ends well.