I just love it whenever I get a glimpse into the mind of our teenage daughter. She has always been the sweetest person I know. At her two-year birthday party, as she opened each gift, she turned to its giver to thank them and tell them that she loved it.
When I was dropping Liv off, she turned to me and said, “I feel bad that you and Dad have to go out alone tonight.” I just laughed and told her she didn’t need to worry about it.
In her mind, we’d been planning to hang out as a family, and she ruined that plan by choosing friends over parents. But, as we parents all know, time alone with our spouse is sometimes so scarce, that we need to jump at any time we can get. Someday she’ll understand that. But that night, she was worried she had hurt our feelings.
And that’s just how Olivia is. As she’s grown from that conscientious toddler into the young woman she is now, it’s been a gift to see that her genuine kindness and concern has stuck around. But that she’s also seeing how the world works. That part’s also sometimes been difficult to watch. But recently she wrote an essay that made me think she’s on a pretty good path.
In Liv’s own words:
As we go through life, it’s hard not to make mistakes. Some are small and insignificant, but some can affect our lives for years.
Recently, my choir teacher asked me to accompany the boys’ choir, Route 66, on the piano. I accepted, since I had accompanied the girls’ choir only months before. Of course, doubts ran through my head. What if I messed up and embarrassed myself in front of a couple hundred people? Or what if I forgot everything right before I got onto the stage? The possibilities were endless. Plus, unlike last time, I wouldn’t have a harp alongside me to cover my mistakes this time. But, I subdued my inner worries and got to work on the song.
I started taking the song to piano lessons, which I have every Tuesday after school. We postponed any other songs I had been working on, and spent all of our time on “Benedictus.” There were countless octaves, sixteenth notes, transitions, and impossible chords for my 13 year-old hands. I was beginning to stress. What if I couldn’t pull this off? However, my teacher said it was okay, and I just needed more practice. After all, this was an incredibly challenging song for HER, let alone a 13-year-old girl. So, I again quieted my doubts and assured myself it would work out if I just practiced, practiced, practiced.
My choir teacher was beginning to want to hear the song. I panicked, but agreed. Hesitantly, I began to play the song. Even more intimidating, she was just standing there. No facial expressions were readable from the corner of my eye. When I had reached the farthest point I could play, she stopped me. She told me it was coming along, but I needed to work on my transitions. (Called it.) She then told me to practice one measure until it was perfect. Then add another measure until flawlessness was reached. And so on and so forth. So, I continued practicing.
The concert was barely a week away, and I could barely play through the song slowly! There was absolutely no way I could play it up to tempo while also having people sing along. I was also being irresponsible, and wasting precious time at home on Pinterest or Netflix, when I could and should be practicing my song. And so, days before the concert, I asked my mom to email my piano teacher to tell her I just couldn’t do it. I was way too stressed out, and was breaking down in a flood of emotions, some of which included disappointment, embarrassment, and frustration. After that, I had her email my choir teacher to deliver the same message. My choir instructor said all was well, and she had had a backup accompanist just in case. I was relieved.
So, I did not play piano with Route 66. I did not play “Benedictus” for my piano recital. (Instead, I played an arrangement of “The Holly and the Ivy,” which I practiced at the last second for about three days. Needless to say, I was not the proudest I could be.)
This experience, no matter how crummy, taught me an important lesson. Nothing can be perfect if we don’t put in the time to make it that way. I sure learned that the hard way. If I had put in time to practice, (a lot of time, mind you,) it would’ve been easier to pull it off. However, I wasted my time and expected the song to magically be amazing, without the burden of having to practice. In hindsight, I would have practiced the song more, and I would’ve played it with confidence. Now I know what to do the next time I am asked to accompany the choir.
Today in Sacrament Meeting, one of the speakers said, “We need to be more like Nephi and pray for the materials to make the tools to build the boat, rather than just praying for the boat.” I am so happy that Liv has learned that we can’t just all-of-a-sudden have something or be good at something without putting in the work. She has reminded me of a very important Life lesson.
And I expect that many more lessons are on their way. Quite possibly learned the hard way.