We went to the zoo last weekend. It was a perfect fall day. Sunny. Chilly enough for hot chocolate and donuts. Warm enough to walk around watching the animals and appreciating the changing colors. It was an educational experience for Piper, too. These are the things she learned:
1. Animals poop. A lot.
2. Monkeys have funny butts.
3. Some monkeys have funny boobs, too.
4. Underwater caves have the best views.
5. When animals poop a lot it smells. Bad.
6. If you ask for a really small thing at the gift store, your odds are better than when you ask to take home the life size panda.
7. You’re always the red dot on the map. The red dot follows you. It’s amazing.
8. Elephants lay eggs. Or they like to play with big white balls. Whatever.
9. Elephants poop a lot. It’s big poop. It smells like big poop.
10. Seals fight over the same rock. Even when there are two seals and twenty rocks. It’s a lot like having a Sissy.
Piper took a piano lesson last year. Really. Just one. We have an actual live piano taking up half of our living room, so bribing Piper into lessons seemed logical. Her sister has been taking for years and fills our house with melodies. I wanted Piper to learn, too. She looks like a natural, doesn’t she? (Note the rainbow dress, once again)
I romantically imagined thirty whole minutes alone with each kid while the other took lessons. Okay, maybe I was hoping for an hour of reading in the car while parked in the piano teacher’s driveway but anyway…Piper didn’t want to go. Until she realized that the piano teacher had a dog in the house. For many kids this would be a deal breaker, but Piper has always been unreasonably obsessed with dogs. The bigger, the scarier, the better. She thinks barking and growling is cute. To get her to take piano, I did what any well-intentioned mom would do. I bribed her. 3 minutes with Fluffy in exchange for 30 minutes at the piano. I know. I know. But I thought if I could just get her to try, she’d fall for the piano. I believed I could manufacture motivation and increase her desire through exposure. I can hear you snickering at me from afar.
The first lesson actually went okay, but Piper refused to practice afterwards. Not even for M & Ms. Not even with the promise of more dog love. “I already learned how to play, Mom! Remember? I took a lesson.” I reminded Piper that her Sissy takes lessons every week and that she learns something new at each lesson. Piper ignored me and pounded away on the keys playing piano her own way. She refused to go back. I pushed harder. Bribed more. Failed. I kept hearing my grandmother’s voice in the back of my head reminding me that my job as their mother is to help make them the best them they can be not the best me I want them to be. But Grandma hadn’t bought that expensive piano in the living room. And what if Piper just needed a little encouragement to discover her inner virtuoso? So I gave her a choice. “What instrument would you like to play?”
“Violin!” she declared pulling a harmonica from the toy box.
“That’s not a violen, honey. It’s a harmonica.”
“Alright, then. The drums. I want to be a drummer. I love to hit stuff!” Then she flew through the house demonstrating her drumming technique on every piece of furniture and person.