Fixing what’s broke

One of the things the kids were most excited about when we moved to Georgia—aside from the pool, because ZOMG A POOL WE MUST BE RICH—was that they were finally going to start taking piano lessons. I can’t give you a definitive answer on why we never did it before we moved, but I think it went a little something like: Sorry, we don’t have the money right now; well now you’re doing something else, instead; now we have the money and possibly the time but you no longer seem interested; and finally, HOORAY we have both the time and the money and you’re interested but… we’re about to move, so screw it.

So we waited until we moved. And then we got a recommendation. And the teacher was conveniently located and well-regarded and affordable and we said okay, let’s do this thing!

The kids have been studying with him for three years. Correction: The kids HAD been studying with him for three years. Because yesterday I fired him. And today I am still pissed off, but not nearly as much at him as I am at myself.

I am pissed at myself because I used to sit in on their lessons, for the first few months. But the teacher let me know that wasn’t really necessary (translation: Mom, take a hike and let me do my job), and so over the last months and years I’ve taken to letting them go on their own and I am merely the “how’d it go today?” caboose at the end. I am second-guessing my decision not to sit in on every damn lesson. Let’s see: three years of weekly lessons for two kids… that’s somewhere around 300 lessons I’ve missed.

The first year was fine. Great, even. Both kids loved it.

The second year was mostly fine. Monkey complained a little, but nothing serious. Chickadee started dragging her heels about practicing, though, which I found odd, because she was the one who’d really, really wanted to play.

The third year—this last year—has been hard. And to be fair to everyone involved, this last year was hard because everything about the year was hard, full stop. It wasn’t piano. Rather, it wasn’t JUST piano. Chickadee starting middle school was hard. Monkey’s 4th grade year was hard. Things were just hard in every possible way, it seemed like, and so I didn’t see piano as being any harder than anything else. Of course they complained. Of course no one wanted to practice. Of course Chickadee tanked at her recital. The 2009-2010 academic year goes down in the Casa Mir annals as “Extreme Suckitude. See also: hair donkey balls.” So I really had no reason to suspect piano was problematic.


Except a couple of times Monkey was dismissed early, in tears. And yes, it was a hard year, and sometimes he can be pretty difficult… but I’d tried to talk to the teacher about it a couple of times.

“He was diagnosed with Asperger’s,” I told him. “He’s really having a difficult time, and you have to understand that he’s not doing it on purpose.”

“Oh, I don’t care about any of that,” he’d said, waving his hands. “He’s just spirited, and sometimes he’s difficult. But he’ll outgrow it.”

And I excused him for his ignorance, because he’s older and set in his ways and look, the kids are playing real music, so something must be working okay here.

That was a mistake.

Except Chickadee was starting to hate piano. I would send her upstairs to practice piano and she would practice her flute until her lips cracked, but avoid the piano and sometimes say, in her defense, “Mr. PianoGuy hates me. It doesn’t matter if I practice or not, he’s just going to yell at me.” And I thought she was exaggerating, as she does.

That was a mistake.

Except the recital was coming up again this year, and both kids were completely freaking out. Monkey—who’d not been included, last year, because “he’s not mature enough,” even though kids half his age WERE included—was given a simple piece and we were told, “He should have no problem with this, and it’ll ease him into performing without it being stressful for him.” So I thought he’d kind of gotten it.

But then I sat in on Monkey’s lesson this week, and he stumbled a little as he played. And Mr. PianoGuy sighed heavily and rapped on the keyboard next to Monkey’s hands. “Monkey! This is the easiest piece in the world. ANYONE could play this piece! Pull yourself together!” Monkey darted a sad glance my way and I smiled at him in encouragement, while simultaneously wondering why I didn’t suggest Mr. PianoGuy find a motivation technique that doesn’t include mocking derision.

After he got through it, I asked if they’d discussed what Monkey should do if he makes a mistake at the recital. “Don’t go putting ideas in his head, Mom!” Mr. PianoGuy chided me. I tried to explain that Monkey needs to practice scenarios which are likely to be emotional for him, that he needs to know what to do if something goes wrong, and the teacher interrupted me to say to Monkey, “You just KEEP PLAYING, right?” Monkey nodded. That’s great advice for a neurotypical kid. I could easily picture Monkey screwing up at the recital, and with all eyes on him and anxiety burning bright, banging on the piano like a deranged Liberace; but I tried to believe it would be okay.

And then I sat in on Chickadee’s lesson this week, and she was surly and uncooperative, even though I was sitting right there. And while Chickadee takes high honors on a regular basis in surly and uncooperative, I’ve NEVER seen her carry on like this for a teacher. She is sweetness and light and goodness for her teachers. But not for Mr. PianoGuy. She struggled to get through her piece and her fingers wouldn’t obey, and she sat at the bench and wept and refused to continue, even after he asked and then told her to go on. She refused to look at or speak to him. And in exasperation I told her that if she couldn’t as least be respectful to the teacher, I was going to leave.

“NO, MAMA!” she cried, leaping up. “Stay! PLEASE!” I sternly informed her that when an adult speaks to her she responds, respectfully, and that she should afford Mr. PianoGuy the proper deference for the remainder of the lesson. She nodded and wiped her cheeks. He told her to “stop acting like a two-year-old” and gave her some direction and she started again. Flubbed again. Dropped her head down to the keys and didn’t respond when he called her name.

He turned to me and said, “What do you think is causing this attitude problem?”

I shrugged and said that she’s needed an attitude adjustment of late, we know, and she hadn’t practiced her piece enough and was now embarrassed, and I was sorry she was being difficult.

“I think I know what it is,” he continued. Oh, I remember thinking, THIS should be interesting. “It the whole… you know… the broken home situation.” I tried (and probably failed) not to gape, and as he continued I saw Chickadee straighten up and peer incredulously around the corner of the piano at him to listen to his indictment. “It’s very difficult,” he continued, “and I’m sure it’s just TERRIBLE for them, and they’re acting out. Plus, growing up with a stepfather… well, I had a stepfather, and it was pretty hard. It’s such a tough situation for them.”

[Sidebar Reality Check!

Just in case you’re new here or would like a refresher:

1) I’ve been divorced for seven and a half years. In other words, Monkey doesn’t remember their father and I being married at all, and Chickadee barely does. We’ve been apart for more of their lives than we were together.

2) Otto and I have been married for three and a half years. And excuse me if this sounds more self-congratulatory than I mean it to, but our home is pretty much the polar opposite of broken. Honestly, I think I did a pretty good job for the years the kids and I were on our own, but THIS household is everything I always wanted for my kids, and a level of love and stability that, quite frankly, makes me pretty damn proud.

3) I don’t know what sort of daddy issues Mr. PianoGuy is harboring, but Otto’s awful treatment of the children includes… oh, wait, that’s right. He treats them like his own, loves the snot out of them no matter how obnoxious they are, quietly steps aside for their father whenever appropriate, and has raised his voice in dealing with them exactly once that I can remember. THAT MONSTER.

4) I’m sure you’re wondering if Mr. PianoGuy is a paragon of family values, given his strong opinions on the matter. So I’m happy to confirm that yes, he and his (really lovely) wife are still married and have three adult children. And this is me not commenting on the fact that two of his three adult children dropped out of high school and had babies and currently live at home. AHEM. I am not commenting because IT’S NONE OF MY DAMN BUSINESS. See how that works?

I hope you have enjoyed this sidebar as much as I have.]

You could’ve heard a pin drop as Mr. PianoGuy sat there waiting to be congratulated on his keen insight. I was, quite literally, speechless. Finally Chickadee said, “Uh, Mr. PianoGuy? My parents got divorced when I was, like, three.” (Subtext: Put down the crack pipe, Mr. PianoGuy.)

If she had asked me for a pony, right then, I would’ve bought her one. Just sayin’.

Somehow the moment passed. I may have forced a chuckle and said, “Uh, yeah. I don’t think that’s the problem.” I asked what would happen if she wasn’t ready for the recital on the weekend, and we were treated to a speech on how in all his years of teaching, no one has ever pulled out of the recital, she’ll be ready, they’ll both be ready, they’ll just have to get through it, it’ll be fine, etc.

We gathered up our stuff and left.

I talked to Otto. I talked to the kids’ dad. I put a little something on Facebook to ask if that experience was as surreal and invasive and just plain icky as I’d thought (unanimous consensus: HELL YES). I thought about letting the kids do the recital today before telling the teacher we were done.

But in the end, it was Monkey who make up my mind for me. I asked him if he likes playing the piano any more, and he said, “Well, I like the playing part. I hate going to Mr. PianoGuy, though. He’s just mean.”

Then I played over the last year in my head, wondered how many clues I’d missed, wondered how long my kids were being mocked and chided and dismissed as problems without my noticing. The thought absolutely filled me with shame. And still does.

Yesterday I asked Chickadee if she’d just like to skip the recital. “Oh, I can’t do that,” she said, horrified. “Mr. PianoGuy will be furious. I have to go.” I said what if we’d decided to stop lessons with Mr. PianoGuy, effective immediately—would she still want to do the recital, anyway? Tears of relief sprang to her eyes. “Really? No more lessons with him? No, I don’t want to do the recital. THANK YOU.”

I wrote him an email. Erased it. Rewrote it. Told him I think he’s unprofessional at worst and rude at best. Erased it. Finally settled for explaining that the anxiety both kids are experiencing over the recital at this point far outweighs the potential benefits of having them perform, and we were not only bowing out of the recital, but taking a break from lessons. I apologized for the late notice, finally saying only, “I didn’t realize until sitting in on Chickadee’s lesson this week exactly how bad things had gotten.”

We live in a small town. Part of me desperately wants to lay it out for him, take him to task for mistreating my kids, for judging my family, for having turned music lessons into something so very unpleasant for both of them. The more rational part of me knows there’s nothing to be gained, there; he won’t change, and some bridges should just be avoided rather than burned.

And really, I’m angrier at myself than at him. I let it go on for too long. Telling him off isn’t going to make me feel any better.

I told the kids we would most likely just shelve lessons until January, and then find a new teacher. They cheered. CHEERED. I apologized for not figuring it out sooner. They patted me and assured me it was okay. “He wasn’t always so… so… well, he’s gotten weirder,” Chickadee offered. I thought that was very kind of her.

Especially considering as how the broken home situation is so terrible for them, and everything.


  1. MomCat

    Mir, Congratulations on amazing amounts of self-restraint! I would have wanted to lay it all out for him, too, so he could see it in spite of those blinders he has on. (That’s, of course, if he could get over the case of cranial rectitis he clearly has.)

  2. Midj

    Mir, I feel your pain. But you are great at picking yourself up and moving on. Hurray for you for having the courage to put your foot down and say, “Enough is enough!” And the day before the recital, no less. Yay, you!

  3. pam

    Oh my dear you are a better human being than I. My first gut response was to come down there, find him, and beat the shit out of him.

  4. parodie

    Oh, how horrible. What a terrible thing to discover after so long. On the plus side, it sounds like your kids are wonderfully resilient (consider they come from a broken home ‘n all) and that they will survive just fine – and may even still like playing the piano (a minor miracle). Kudos to you for figuring it out, at least. And good luck finding a new & better teacher.

  5. beth

    I’m a piano teacher. This just breaks my heart.

    You did the right thing. I would encourage you to go out of your way to subtly discourage your friends and acquaintances to avoid Mr. PianoGuy. The world does NOT need more scarred adults who were traumatized by their childhood music teachers. It’s a privilege, and it should not be abused.

    I wish I could be your next teacher. It would be a joy! Until you do find a new instructor, encourage the kids to just play for fun; I imagine they can reclaim what they once enjoyed before Mr. PianoGuy screwed it up.

  6. Rasselas

    I hope you find a better teacher for them, after a nice long break. It’s just horrible when emotional trauma shadows over music lessons, but I’m the living proof that if they really love music, they will recover. :)

  7. My Kids Mom

    I say, invite some favorite family and friends over and give a recital in a few weeks. Celebrate what they DO know and let them each play their favorite pieces. Keep encouraging them to practice songs they’ve learned, new songs in their books and to doodle for fun. Hopefully you’ll find a new teacher for them and they’ll jump right in.

  8. mamabird

    I have taught music lessons privately since I was in Grade 8. In no situation would I ever treat students the way Mr. PianoGuy did – that was completely unacceptable and I hope that you find a new teacher for them who treats them with respect. And if they do think they know why your kids are struggling, hopefully they’ll have the tact to talk to you privately and not in front of the kids! Good lord, some people.

  9. Jen

    Oh.My.Gods. I taught private flute lessons for a gazillion years (mostly middle school girls) and my horror level knows no bounds right now. That guy is so out of line I’m not so sure he recognizes there IS a line. Please don’t beat yourself up so much. It’s not you, it’s him. Totally and 100% him.
    And if anyone ever asks you your opinion of him, looking for kid lessons, lay it allll out.

  10. Em

    I think you made the very best decisions with the information you had. I also think when things get progressively worse (as opposed to suddenly worse), it is hard to see and even harder to decide when to take action. And I think if the kids are good with you, you should forgive yourself. They saw that after ONE lesson of you witnessing them being mistreated, you took action. There is nothing to be ashamed of there. There is not a soul who reads this that doesn’t know you have their best interests at heart at all times.

    One suggestion/opinion I have that disagrees and it is only that so take from it what you want, I would absolutely make him understand that it is his behavior that made this decision. I understand that you were taking an avoidance stance but I think the blame should lay squarely on him and not at all on the kids or their anxiety over the recital (which, also? His fault. ). Maybe he won’t change. Maybe it will get around town that you think he is crazier than an outhouse rat. He IS! I would not suggest you badmouthing the guy around town but to him, yeah, lay that sucker out. Your email to his email ;-) Just my opinion.

  11. Debra

    Mr PianoGuy was pretty much every school teacher my son ever had in Elementary school. I wish I could have pulled him out of all that as easily as you pulled yours out of piano.

    Good job on pulling getting them away from that toxic atmosphere.

  12. Meg

    Oh, Mir, I’m hoping I can eventually meet an Otto clone and have a similarly broken home. :)

  13. jodifur


    That is all I have to say.

  14. dad

    I think Chickadee deserves that pony even if its the one you have been promising me for some years now. Her comment shows: (1) remarkable understanding of the situation and (2), the moxie to speak her mind.

    Don’t aggravate. Just appreciate a little more unemcumbered time. Even without piano lessons all three of you still have a pretty full plate.

  15. meghann

    I know you won’t listen to me on this, but, don’t beat yourself up about any of this. You’re an awesome mom.

    All moms are human, and therefore imperfect creatures, so we’ve all been there. I’ll even tell you mine to prove it. My daughter (the one you didn’t meet), when she was 5 I noticed one of her eyes crossing a bit. I made a mental note that we should get it checked, but between moving and homeschooling and everything else, it ended up being a year before she got checked. Um, yeah. Turns out, her vision was super bad and it was amazing she wasn’t running into walls or anything. You? Let your kids endure a bad teacher for a year. Me? I had a kid who I let go around blind as a bat for a year and I didn’t notice. I win at being the worse parent.


  16. Michele

    Boo, for Mr. Pianoguy.

    Thank you for the sentance “Some bridges should just be avoided rather than burned”. I never thought about it that way. It applies exactly to a situation that I have. I realize that I’m just avoiding that bridge because if if I try to cross it….well it will result in a big fat bonfire. I don’t want the bonfire!

  17. Nancy

    Don’t beat yourself up about not noticing sooner. It is hard to know when you are not on the spot all the time. I used to sit outside my son’s piano lesson once in a while, just to hear what was going on. She would not even know. Good idea for anyone your kids are alone with for any lenghth of time. The drum lessons at 15 were a different story – I never even met DrumGuy. He had a good reputation and I relied on my son to keep me infomed. By the way, 10 years of piano, 3 years of drums and neither instrument has been touched in 5 years now. Don’t regret it though, I think someday he will pick one of them back up. Piano I hope – for the sake of his neighbors.

  18. MamaChristy

    I think you are a lovely person. Don’t beat yourself up over letting them continue going and BRAVO for firing the jerk. I hope that it’s a total pain in his sensitive bits that your kids won’t be in the recital.

  19. Jenn

    Um, wow, really? Seriously?!? Look at me, I’m so incredulous I can barely comment. Okay, coherency, here we go.

    I am a music lover and grew up in every single musicy, arty, artsy extracurricular activity there was as well as took lessons and went to band camp. (This one time…) Yeah, that’s what we need in this world where music and art is getting cut out of schools left and right is for Mr. Piano Guy type people to give kids another reason not to fall in love with music. Way to go, him.

    Also, what’s with the stigma attached to divorce and single parenting and “broken homes” such that we now blame every single problem a child of divorce has on it? Implication being they are screwed up and we awful, trashy facilitators of said divorce are at fault for screwing them up? And why do people feel it’s their duty and right to share this opinion with us? It’s nauseating.

  20. Anna Marie

    My brother and I had a mean piano teacher when we were young. She was German, and every time we hit a wrong note she would sigh heavily and say “ach!”. My brother called her the Piano Ach-er. The fact that I have such strong memories speaks to how horrible she was.

    I’m so glad you figured it out and stood up for your kids. Like the commenter above, I would like to beat the hell out of that guy for being so dismissive and rude to your kids. It is inexcusable.

  21. mar

    My son had a teacher in second grade who, at Back-to-School night (2 weeks into the school year?), told the whole class room full of parents that she didn’t like boys – she wished she could only teach girls. At the time, I and several of the other parents thought it was just a joke, but as the year went on, we realized it wasn’t. She had been a teacher for 30+ years, and was burnt out and cranky. My son had a terrible year that year, and I always felt bad that I should have been more insistent about getting him out of that class. (I tried, but was the 4th parent to ask, and the other second grade class in our school was getting too big because of transfer requests!).

    We do the best we can with what we have, and we are always going to make mistakes. As commenter Emm said, at least the kids saw that, when you actually experienced the situation, you had their backs and pulled them out of there. That was good for them to see, I’m sure.

    Onward and upward, right?

  22. Veronica

    I would have been ropable.

  23. Shirly

    I have been in your position, where for many years I was a single mother. At the time my daughter was having a tough time at school and I thought it was just girls being girls. But it got to a point that it was clear she was being bullied. You can imagine that I took the bull by the horn and informed her form teacher straight away. It was dealt with immediately by the school. The teachers were impressed at how resilient my daughter was as even they did not realise whe was being bullied.
    I think the point I’m making here is that as parents we do what we can and give the benefit of the doubt. But if we care and love our children enough, they carry that strength with them through life.

  24. Karen P

    Wow, I can’t belive Mr. Pianoguy would even have the gall to say what he said to you, and that he said it in front of your daughter makes it even worse. I sat in on Greg’s flute lessons when he first started (he was only 9). When he had to switch to a new teacher I did not, but no flags went up that anything was out of the ordinary. I can say confidently that his teachers never treated him the way your children were been treated. I guess we found the good teachers. Greg stayed with his third teacher from the age of 12 to 18.
    Mr. Pianoguy’s method certainly wouldn’t harbor the love of music in his pupils.
    Good for you for taking them out of lessons with him! There are great teachers out there, hope you find one!

  25. Karen P

    Also, you may want to search out a new teacher by looking at the website for MTNA. Greg competed at the national level through that organization. They showed 110 piano teachers in Georgia.

  26. Heather Cook

    Wow, congrats on you for erasing all those emails! I think I would have acted like, what did he say, a two year old? Yeah, I would have acted that way!

  27. Little Bird

    Having a parent willing to go to bat for you is the awsomest feeling ever. Your kids are amazingly lucky.

  28. KMayer

    The guy’s a dick. Good for you for standing by your kids and forgive yourself for not knowing. You can’t know what you don’t know, and you’re kids can’t tell you what they don’t know: that their piano teacher’s a dick and taking it out on them. Good for you mom for stepping in and letting them know it’s not alright to treat kids like that. Now I’m pissed for you!

  29. Suebob

    Here’s where your childless friend gives you parenting assvice – don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re not a mind reader and kids can be funky about lessons and nobody SAID Mr. PianoMan is a jerk and…you’re just a good person who is trying to do right by your kids and it seems like you do a really, really good job.

    But that Otto seems TERRIBLE, what with the kindness and lovingness and all. I think he’s got to go. (broken home. snort)

  30. Lady M

    Go you!

    I hope that the next piano teacher is really terrific and helps them love playing again.

  31. Sherry

    This teacher clearly could use some refinement, to put it mildly.

    On another note, I’m a violin teacher and I highly recommend that the parent is always present at the lesson. It’s fruitful on many fronts.

  32. Kristi

    Can I say this? (He’s a dick.)

  33. Sassy Apple

    1. What an ass-hat ( I figure if Kristi can say dick, I should be safe)

    2. The ‘recital reprieve’ must feel like a snow day in Georgia, and it came from YOU.

    3. You feel like crap and that’s par for the parenting course.. For them, though, this bad experience is OVER.

    4. Spend some of this ‘found time’ exploring fun and funky music from the past and present. Not to mention musicals!

  34. Brigitte

    He sounds very . . um . . “old school.” You know, like he traveled in time from the “children should be seen and not heard” days, and when they misbehaved, you took ’em out for a beltin’ behind the tool shed. Shudder!

  35. karen

    I hope you’ll forgive me for saying this.. but..

    What an a**h*le. Yeah, that says it. I think he’s a damaged soul who bangs away his frustration and childhood torment on the keys. Good riddance.

  36. Jamie

    What a complete jerk! (Him, not you.) He has NO CLUE how to interact with children. Mir, you’ve had an awful lot going on in that broken home of yours the past year or so, it seems logical to have missed one craptastic thing while focusing on the rest. Don’t be too hard on yourself; just another learning lesson for all. Now go and work on that “broken home” until January!

  37. Rachael

    My hats off to you, Mir. I would’ve opened up a can of Mama Bear Whoop A$$ on that teacher. Music is supposed to be good for the soul… I can’t say anything else. I’m too irritated. I’m a violinist who’s taught lessons and I’ve made it fun and enjoyable for the kids… gah.

  38. Lucinda

    The kids won’t remember you letting this go on to long. They will remember you rescuing them as soon as you saw the problem. They will remember the love and compassion and understanding you showed them. So try not to be yourself up to much. We all have those moments. I had it last year in May when I realized I should have insisted my daughter was moved to a different class back in October. Ugh. It was terrible.

    Also, the beauty of a small town is that word DOES travel fast. So word of mouth regarding his effectiveness as a teacher (or ahem lack thereof) will do wonders for your soul and you will still come out looking good because of the way you handled the whole situation. Never underestimate the power of the mom network in a small town. : )

  39. BethR

    Sounds like Chickadee is developing a wonderful sense of understatement: “… well, he’s gotten weirder…” Sounds like he’s so far around the corner that he can’t see respectful and appropriate to save his life.

    I’m sorry they got stuck with a bad music teacher and good for you for fixing the situation as soon as you discovered it.

  40. Laura

    You say that he was well-regarded, and Chickadee’s comment was, “he’s gotten weirder.” To me, this signals a possible problem with dementia, alzheimer’s or some other neurological incident. Personality changes (for the worse) are an indicator. Something’s changed, or he wouldn’t have been recommended. There was no way for you to know, and you acted as soon as you did know. That’s what counts.

  41. Laura

    holy jackassitude.

  42. karyn

    You definitely did the right thing. A friend of mine (male) has custody of his daughter. Recently the teacher used an excuse of “well since she lives with you and not mom” in reference to her home life while discussing school. What is with teachers that they don’t understand their are divorced familys, and the children do still get everything they need from one parent or a parent and step parent. It made me really angry for him. its not the first time the school has mentioned it either. The daughter was one year old when the parents divorced. She’s 8 now and sees mom every other weekend.

  43. lizneust

    You absolutely did the right thing to pull them out. Their love of music will carry the day, and I hope that any lasting effect will come into the category of, “if I am ever a teacher, I will never…”. (My mom went into teaching because of a horrendous first grade teacher.)

    A couple things struck me though. You said he was older. Chickie said he was acting weirder. I have a relative who was recently diagnosed with early Alzheimers. One of the things that tipped us off is the fact that this incredibly lovely, genteel woman started saying the most offensive things. I wonder if you are the only parent who has pulled her kids out recently. Not that there is anything you can do with my supposition, but it just struck me as I read it.

  44. liz

    What they said. HOLY GUACAMOLE.

  45. Amy

    First, of all, Mir why haven’t you gotten your dad a pony yet?? He is obviously overdue a pony!

    Second, you could probably get a really good piano teacher for a good price if you called the “Local University” band. When I marched in the band I think probably 40% of the band was music majors. There’s probably some adorable band person over at “LU” that would love the teaching experience.

    Third, WAY. TO. GO. MIR!!!

  46. Burgh Baby

    I went through this exact thing with a dance teacher earlier this year. Except, I was in the damn room when the teacher was treating my kid like less of a person than the others. I’ll take that Clueless Mom hat right off your head because it much more so belongs on mine. WHOOPS.

    The good news is that the new dance studio is, so far, a million times better.

  47. Debbi

    I’m not sure what is worse, that he said that to you or that he said to you IN FRONT OF Chickadee. Wow. And congrats to you, you once again handled the situation wonderfully.

    I’m in the same predicament with my sons teacher. Trying not to burn bridges and only fighting battles that I feel must be fault. I’m winning, I guess, maybe? sigh…

    I hope you can find a more compassionate teacher that will help them find the love for music again.

  48. Jen

    *Sigh* I have gotten that same sort of comment from people a few times. It is all I can do to stop myself from asking if they thought watching their mother getting beaten up by their father, having their (and my) every move scrutinized and controlled, and basically living in complete chaos was better for my kids than the life of relative normalcy and stability that they have now, since that was basically what our life was like, before we became a “broken family”. Even when I give them the nicer version of the comment above, I still often get the ” Divorce is really hard on kids,” or “Kids need both parents in their lives” arguments a lot. Many people just don’t get it, and I don’t bother anymore trying to get them to; I would appreciate if they would keep their damned mouths shut though, especially around my kids. My kids lives are really good, in large part because their father is not a part of them, and they are damned lucky to have a stepfather that loves the dickens out of them. (though he is definitely no Otto, but who is, really?)

    You absolutely did the right thing Mir, and don’t beat yourself up over not having done it sooner. You did it as soon as you knew, and that’s all you could do. You’re not a mind reader (be glad for that – would you really want to know what they are thinking?!), and kids complain about stuff; without them explicitly telling you what was going on, you really had no way to know. I would tell you to quit being so hard on yourself, but as a mom, I know that is unlikely, so I won’t. Its over now, that’s what matters, and you came out the hero from where your kids stand, just remember that.

  49. Andrea

    Now I have anxiety…if “coming from a broken home” provoked such a response in this strange little man, what are my children with a single mom-dad free home going to face in similar situations. I can only hope I am raising children with the same measure of self-worth and strength. You give me hope.


  50. Angela

    I’m a few days late, but have a good story about old cranky man piano teachers :-) My mom took piano lessons from an old man who lived in the house behind our next door neighbor when I was about 6 or 7 years old. He was very cranky and naturally, didn’t like children, so I didn’t usually have to go with her, thank God. But one summer a hurricane blew down all the fences between our houses. The old man had a pool in his backyard, and my friend and I were walking around in various backyards, since the boundaries were gone, and he happened to be swimming NEKKED in his pool! We ran, of course, but he called our parents and WE got in trouble!! Can you imagine? What is any man doing swimming nekked in his backyard pool with young girl neighbors and NO FENCE??? Thank God no real damage occurred and I can laugh about it now!

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