Tonight was the annual winter concert for the middle schoolers at Derby and what an event it was! First the jazz band took the stage and banged out some swinging tunes during which Mairen and two other saxophone players had a ‘solo’ of sorts which went well but the piece as a whole was less than perfect. The eighth grade band, of which she is a part, was amazing and after the concert when she asked what I thought, I told her the truth…..I told her that the eighth grade band was awesome but that the second jazz band piece was a little weak.
Mother of the year award? NOT! Even though her part was terrific (and I have at least 30 pictures to prove it), commenting negatively on the piece that she had her solo in was STUPID. I love her and am so proud of her and by being honest about that piece and seeing her deflated face, I realized I had made a mistake. I then began to point out the positive things about not only her performance, but the eighth grade band as a whole. I told her how much I enjoy this concert every year and we talked about how much she loves music. After a while, she asked again for me to tell her what about the piece didn’t work and again I was honest, but this time I had a cushion of good will beneath us. I told her that I felt the horn section sounded off at several points, that the trumpet soloist was terrific but the other times the brass played, it sounded as if someone was out of tune and that was distracting. She asked about her performance and I could honestly tell her how wonderful she sounded. And she could believe me.
I guess telling the truth about the jazz band piece turned out ok in the end. Mairen understood that I would be loving and supportive but honest too and that makes the praise much more valuable. My mistake was giving the negative feedback without the cushion of praise and support already built. I may not be mother of the year, but I am learning…..
Tell the truth, show your love and support and each day will be your best!
Molly O’Shea, MD Birmingham Pediatrics + Wellness Center