I hate confrontation. When experiencing poor service or rude
treatment, I usually say nothing. I envy those people who can
banter and spar. The thought of arguing with others makes me
physically ill. Instead of participating in a verbal
throw-down with a restaurant manager or rude flight attendant, I do
what most mealy-mouthed cowards do.
I write a strongly worded letter.
Yet there are certain situations where conflict cannot be
avoided. For example, my oldest son has been taught by a wonderful
piano master for three years. Dan has learned a great deal from her
and has acquired a real passion for music. Over the course of this
past weekend, we had to convey the tough news that we would no
longer be using her services.
To provide a little background, my husband and I have code names
for our two different piano instructors. We nicknamed Dan's teacher
"The General." She is an extremely organized and disciplined woman.
She expects a lot of commitment and hard work from both students
and parents alike. Our fear of rebuke and judgment insured that we
enforced daily practice. We simply did not want to make The General
angry. You wouldn't like her when she was angry.
Conversely, Jack and Joe's instructor was christened "Sunshine
& Bubbles." Sunshine & Bubbles is young, light, and airy.
She has never spoken a cross word in her life and is planning a
mission to South Africa next year to aid refugees. She allows her
students to select their own songs and gives the kids "breaks"
mid-lesson to work off any residual energy from having to sit still
for a half hour.
Both teachers have done a marvelous job with the boys and we
value their unique approaches to music theory and instruction.
Sadly, Dan's schedule required too-frequent adjustments to his
allotted lesson time. The General's jam-packed calendar did not
allow for easy changes. Yet we did not want Dan to continue missing
out on baseball games, birthday parties, and camps. After much
deliberation and debate, we made the hard decision to transfer him
over to Sunshine & Bubbles.
The days leading up to firing The General found me increasingly
agitated and anxious. Should I write a script? Could I just send
her an email? What about a voicemail? How about ordering flowers
and a card to break the news? I was a wreck.
My husband was the voice of reason. He reminded me that I owed
The General a face-to-face meeting and explanation of our decision.
He cited countless examples of Dan's progress courtesy of his
phenomenal music instructor. He talked about honor and doing things
I hate when he pulls that stuff.
The day before I had to break the news, I felt sick. I started
backtracking on my original plan and told my husband that maybe it
would be better if we instead opted out of baseball and hockey and
birthday parties. I started offering desperate rationale for not
booting The General. I mean, wasn't it more important for Dan to
continue down his current course of instruction without
interruption or distraction? Didn't we owe the teacher a deeper
commitment than simply heading off to Chuck E. Cheese instead of
music lessons? Shouldn't we be willing to sacrifice my
husband's football dreams for his son and double down with The
General as she worked through Fur Elise?
That did just the trick. I had played my hand to perfection.
There was no way Joe would go along with a sports-free childhood
simply because I was too scared to can the piano teacher.
So while Joe headed off to deliver the pink slip, I stayed home
and read that smutty new mom book everyone's been talking
I will continue living my life without honor or integrity
because when it comes to confrontation, I got nothing. Nothing,
that is, but a husband who recognizes when he's been had and still
agrees to handle my dirty work.
I love my Terminator.
Marianne is mother of three sons and the wife of a southside Irish fireman. She has learned that sometimes you're just too dumb to know what makes you happy. She blogs regularly at We Band of Mothers (webandofmothers.com) and curses with even greater frequency. Her material is written for the imperfect, the imprudent, and the impatient mothers who know that all this stuff is really very funny if you just give it a minute.
See more of Marianne's stories here.
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