Monday, May 31, 2010

Music

My son has taken guitar lessons and drum lessons but never stuck with either, and *never* practiced. My daughter didn't show much interest in music but always knew she wanted to play the flute when she got to 5th grade and could choose to learn a band instrument. She did, and she has excelled. At the concert in April, she was chosen to do a solo of the Star Spangled Banner at the beginning of the concert. She did great!

Over the past few months, my son has begun expressing interest in music lessons again. At S's last concert, he kept saying that he wanted to play the saxophone. Finally, a few weeks ago, I began to look into it, and I was told that sax is actually too difficult for a 7 year old, and most 7 year olds start on the clarinet first. So, I signed up S for flute lessons and E for clarinet lessons over the summer.

E had his first lesson Thursday night. Here is some video taken on Saturday afternoon:



And he keeps getting better. Today, I was sitting on the sofa reading a book while they practiced Frere Jacques, and at one point S told E not to slur the notes, and he adjusted quickly and perfectly. S wants to be a teacher; it's the only thing she's ever wanted to be (well, that and a zookeeper, but she figured she would be a zookeeper part-time and a teacher part-time). She craves opportunities to teach. And E loves nothing more than to learn. It's the perfect match. He soaks up everything she teaches him about music.

So now I am wondering what I'm going to do with them. They are both advancing beyond their age group. To be honest, I find it annoying to drive them back and forth to lessons weekly. :( But I may have to.

Oh well. My husband says that we should not assume E will stick with the clarinet, but I think he enjoys playing with S, and so that will keep him interested for a good long while.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Asperger's

My father-in-law passed away on Friday. My husband, who knew him best, is convinced that he had Asperger Syndrome, like our son. He was socially awkward and introverted, into routines, and had obsessions. He also was an inflexible thinker. A note on my FIL's obit guestbook says: "I worked with [FIL] at [workplace] and knew him over 40 years. He was such a perfectionist about all his work. I will miss him." Aha. This is where my son gets it.

Like many with AS in the family, I now see it everywhere. Check out this guy:



What I am also finding is that E is very competitive with his sister (and vice versa). S plays the flute in 5th grade band. Well, now E is obsessed with the idea of playing the saxophone. He is too little for the sax, so he will be starting clarinet lessons tomorrow (his sister will be starting flute lessons). His sister wrote a 52 page, multi-chapter story. Well, now E has to write a story with chapters. He is on Chapter 2 now. It's about a kid who had no name until he was 13. Then he named himself Rodger. Chapter 2 is the first day of high school.

My job for the next few weeks is to get E some playdates. We put up the pool in the backyard, so that will be a draw if it stays warm enough. There are the Legos, but the kids are in the process of building a city downstairs with the Lego, and new people disrupt the city planning. I am afraid of conflict there. I think I may buy some more outdoor toys.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Self-Esteem

My sister has a theory that what is wrong with the world today is that we have been coddling children's self-esteem way too much. Everyone has to be a winner, which is a problem.

I was teaching "Death of a Salesman" last week, a play I don't really enjoy reading, but I think there's a lot in it that students can connect with. Where we got to last week was this line by Happy:

"It's the only dream you can have-to come out number-one man. He fought it out here, and this is where I'm gonna win it for him."

What's wrong with this statement, I asked. And the students could see that it's impossible for everyone to be the "number-one man." We can't *all* share that dream. At one point towards the end, Biff says "I know who I am." He knows he's *not* special. And that's ok with him. It just isn't ok with Willy, and therefore it's not ok with Willy's enablers, Happy and Linda.

It's ok if not everyone is special.

And yet, there is still such resentment against those who are, well, superior in some ways. I've always hated The Incredibles because I think it is in love with the idea that some people *are* special, but the same people who love the movie for that reason still resist acknowledging those who are. But they don't resist acknowledging physical superiority. They resist acknowledging intellectual superiority.

I wonder why that is? Why is it ok to admit, Hey, I'm not as strong as Mike Tyson or as good a golfer as Tiger Woods, or as good at tennis as Roger Federer, but it's still problematic for people to admit they are not as smart as others?

Saturday, May 08, 2010

A Mighty Wind

Interesting day today in the NYC area. We had a bit of wind.



Yes, that's my car meeting my mom's pear tree. My BIL and a neighbor and a few saws got it off the car with almost no damage.