I love music. To the extent that it can completely change my frame of mind, my attitude to life and maybe even the decisions that I make. That said, one of the biggest regrets in my life is that I never quite learnt music in any of its varied forms. So I have spent half my life envying, and in due course, being infatuated with anyone who sings well or is particularly dexterous with a musical instrument.
Needless to say, my kids are aware of the immense effect music has on me – for quite often they can assess my mood by the sounds in the shower.
In almost all my conversations with other parents, I was aware of how kids were living dreams of their parents. Somehow, the knowledge that I did not force my dreams down my children’s throats, had made me feel rather superior to the other members of my species.
My ten-year old daughter is a trained Kathak dancer. She has been training under a highly knowledgeable guru for the last five years. Today, she is appreciated for her grace, her poise and her ability to emote on stage. The story however, was not so rosy a few years back.
A few years ago, I would listen to classical music with a six-year-old, while explaining to her all the little things that my sensitised-to-classical-music ear could hear. Initially, she would get bored. Later, she showed a distinct love for the changing beats and the crescendos that accompany the Carnatic or Hindustani styles of music.
I was overjoyed! I asked my daughter a closed question that went something like this : “You are just like me!! I loved music when I was growing up, and I always wanted to learn…… I think you have a beautiful voice. Do you want to join music classes?”
She looked at my twinkling eyes and my quivering hands and nodded with a smile. I enrolled my daughter (who was already learning Kathak for a year by then) into music classes. While the Kathak classes were begun entirely due to her enthusiasm, music classes were more my dreams surfacing through. But I went through the whole process with the visuals of my daughter enjoying music with me – assuming she wanted to learn it – just like I did.
A few weeks of classes later, my daughter started showing signs of exhaustion, and began to avoid talking about either the dance or the music classes. She also asked me once if she could quit both. I would ask her why, and she would say, “Just joking Mom!!”
One day, G (the other half of me) walked up to me and said, “Listen, I think you should take up music. You sing real well in the shower.”
I looked at him as though I had been hit by a passing meteor. G, incidentally, is trained in Hindustani music, and has a discerning ear. Which means he has never, ever, in so many years together, told me I sing well (hint: because I DON’T)…… I knew he was lying.
I asked him why, in ten years, he didn’t tell me I sang well, and now he wanted me to take classes! He said, “Because that’s your dream…. you want to sing. And you just may be able to sing well if you take classes……” And then he stopped talking.
I prodded him on. “And……?” I asked him.
He was fidgety and uncomfortable, but he said what he had to. “Well, it’s your dream Meena. Not little G’s. She loves to dance; every inch of her mind and body loves dance. This is why she has never complained of aching feet or tired arms – even when she has to sacrifice her weekends. It’s not the same with music. She’s doing it for you!”
I was aghast. My mind screamed that it was not true. “What absolute rubbish!” I nearly threw the hair brush at him. “You should see her tapping her feet at the beats and the way she closes her eyes when she hears a nice piece! I never forced her to join classes…. She told me she wants to learn music!” But I knew G was right. My conscience was shaking her head sadly while I said this.
“Because you wanted her to say it. And she didn’t want to disappoint you.” G was in mortal fear of being hit by a flying hair-brush (but he is a courageous man)
Everything fit into place now. Little G’s exhaustion, her ‘joking’ questions on wanting to quit both dance and music, because she couldn’t tell me she chose her dream over mine. I was no less criminal than all the parents who force kids to become doctors or engineers to live their dream!
Little G and I had a talk in the evening over an ice-cream (as I’ve mentioned in other posts, little G’s innermost thoughts are most accessible with vanilla ice cream) and I told her that I had many dreams in my life and almost all of them got fulfilled. I also told her that music was only a little thing that really did not matter anymore to me. And that she was a wonderful dancer, and that she could quit music if she wanted.
Of course, she was only too happy to quit music classes, once she was sure she wouldn’t ‘hurt’ me by doing so. Finally, I made her promise me that she will never do things ‘for’ me. She would live her dreams not mine – and I assured her, that would make me the happiest Mom, ever.
She and I, we had reached a new level of love and respect for each other after that little ice-cream talk.
Meena Bhatnagar is a mother of two, with a passion for the written word. She dabbles with fiction, a couple of them finding their way into published work, is an avid blogger, and works as a corporate trainer to pay for all the damages. She blogs on parenting, social issues and humorous incidents of her life and on hotel & restaurant reviews and corporate training.