February 23, 2010

Bring Me Your First-Born

No, that's not me.
Being the first-born child is similar to being a guinea pig. Your parents are still young and idealistic. They expect the sky to be the limit for their young child, my parents were no exception. Apparently in the early 80's something called the "Suzuki method" was all the rage and my parents, usually common sense people, fell prey to the trend. At the tender age of four it was decided that I would learn to play the violin and classes for two-hundred dollars a session were signed up for. So far, so good right?

Then I got my violin. My violin was a margarine box with a paint stirrer taped to it, seriously. For four months I had to practice on the damn thing every dingle day. It made no sound but I was supposed to say "strawberry cherry" over and over again so I could learn to keep time. We ended up moving and I never even got to play on a real violin! How can you learn an instrument without ever even touching it? What kind of crock is this? Or, were my parents just duped by a guy driving a Suzuki? There were a bunch of things like this I was forced to do at a young age. Some were OK, most I detested. I turned out alright so it's not all bad. To this day I have no musical talent whatsoever despite being forced into violin and later piano lessons. By the fourth child my parents had pretty much given up on all that yuppie shit, and you know what? After six months of lessons my littlest sister (whom wanted lessons) is rockin out on guitar already. Are kids just better at stuff when they aren't forced into it? Or, is it because she learned how to play on an actual guitar instead of one made out of a box of cheerios and a set of jumper cables?
Image taken from: http://www.aecg.org/images/violin-kid.jpg


  1. It's a miracle we firstborns aren't more warped than we are with all the trial and error stuff our parents tried. But there were a few perks too.

  2. I had a similar episode as a little tacker. We were forced at school to learn of all things the recorder, those awful cheap woodwind cousins to the clarinet.
    Once a week we had to go to this class and the teacher would make us practice over and over. And over.
    I wanted to play guitar and be a rock star but was told it was a seriously bad instrument that had no musical 'timbre' by our teacher.
    Anyway for some reason, the school decided it could not afford to pay the music teacher, so recorder classes were stopped. I still remember the shouts of joy as we ran out of the old pre-fab building and proceeded to fling these vile noisemakers into the Brisbane River.
    If only we had been asked 'what sort of instrument would YOU like to learn?', things may have turned out differently.
    I now play ukelele, or at least, am teaching myself the uke.
    Tip toe through the tulips...

  3. i'm not sure if firstborn is the reason for what parents do...as the lastborn of my mother, i was forced into a life of academics because i showed promise of becoming 'the smart one'. no art classes allowed until my senior year when i was done with all my credits. grounded when i got a 'B'. i took photography twice to make up for it. was terrified of trying all other art forms, because my older brother and sister, THEY were the 'artistic ones'. its f'd up.

  4. Christopher Robin, You make me laugh. I have a first born-Only child. It must be different, for single working mother's. From the day she was born my way of telling her she was brilliant; Was to say so. A dozen trillion times a day. I must have over done it; As, she is content to think, she is not very smart. She does know, one thing for sure. She is loved, deeply-fiercely and passionately. I am one of the babies in my adopted family; There are ten of us rugrats. I would discover after my dad passed away, I was very much looked out for. Me and my dad adored each other; I can't tell you how many times he's been there when something was awry and amuck in my wild-child life. He protected me from my jealous sibling's; And, always made sure I was a part of everything. Parents do make an impact on our lives, don't they? I was addicted, the first time, ever, I made my dad feel proud of me. It would grow into and through competitiveness, ambition, drive and finally a passion to succeed. I've always wanted to have ten kids of my own. Now, who knows? I was very close to it, when I was infatuated and with a handsome-sweet man who already had 3 kids of his own...plus my one! I thought to myself, "Alright, I am part of the way there!" Sadly it didn't work out for he and I. Luckily, we were smart enough to keep our kids out of it, Till we were sure of what in the hell we were doing? Good for your sister, your family sounds delightful....and fun. They must have done something right; You're a good guy, In your own individual way. *enjoying the music* The thrill is gone....Mmmmm the thrill is gone...

  5. Everything I've enjoyed in life I have not been forced into. That takes the pleasure out of it for sure.

  6. This is the good thing about being the 3rd one to come along. The first born was the high achiever and I was never going to reach her heights of wonderfulness. The second born dropped out of uni and married a harridan. So really as long as I am somewhere in between those 2 I'm sorted.

    And I bet the Violin Box made a less terrible sound than I did when I learnt to play the violin. The cat would actually come and sit on my music so I couldn't play anymore. Seriously.

  7. I'm always impressed by your posts , Christopher!
    I don't like to be forced into doing something, but who does!. My dad's desire regarding me was , what else, a degree, so here I am an economist .
    But I have not been forced into this.
    Have a great day!

  8. For myself, It was a matter of liking the instrument and being allowed to choose it. I chose bass guitar back in high school as my instrument to play in music class and I still play it today. My mom tried to get me into piano at a young age since most of our family had taken it, but it was not nearly as interesting and I certainly didn't choose it.

    Your story made me think of giving a child plastic candy and expecting them to be excited about it...ha!

  9. Squirrel: Yea I'm sure I'll be the same way when I'm a parent.

    Dan: That's pretty funny. I'm actually surprised they spent the money on the recorders, woulda been cheaper just to start a choir.

    Eco: Competition among kids is also an interesting part of childhood. Everyone tries to carve out their own little niche.

    The Me: You want ten kids? 10!? YOU ARE INSANE!!!!! I mean, hey if that makes you happy go for it. Ouch.

    Eva: I agree for the most part. I'm a bitterly stubborn person so if I'm made to do something, even if I do enjoy it, I'll make sure everyone knows I think its lame.

    The Girl: HA! That cat sounds awesome (and I'm not a cat person at all).

    Betty: First of all thanks! Yea degree was definitely something I had to get, the good thing was it didn't matter what it was in so not so much pressure there. They laid off the pressure by the time i was 12 or so anyway and sorta let me figure things out myself a bit.

    Andie: Bass guitar - very cool. Mommy, my snickers bar tastes like broken teeth.

  10. i'm pretty sure andrew bird was suzuki trained, and he's pretty kick ass...so it works for some people.
    as far as child rearing, i am a firm believer in idle parenting. intelligence and creativity are very closely linked and one fosters creativity by having the freedom to think about and really engage in and explore the world around them. i don't like structuring activities and forcing things on kids. but it could be that since i am a lover of the idle life myself, all that work structuring activities would really cut into my reading and thinking time...


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