I don’t know why I’m letting this bother me. I’m a grown-up and I should just get over myself, but this go around it just chapped me. This always happens near a concert series.
What is it, you may ask? Well, it’s about my cello playing. I usually send out a blanket email inviting people and I’ll tell lots of others about whatever concert happens to be going on at the time. And without fail, everyone is really supportive and thinks it’s so gosh darn cool that I play the cello.
So why does this bug me? Well, 17 times out of 20 it doesn’t. But those three…
Those are invariably the type of person, if not the actual person in some cases, who would tease me about being an Orchestra Geek when I was a kid. Seriously.
Playing the cello as an adult is cool. Playing it when you are 14 is not. This comedian captures it beautifully. Watch it, I’ll wait. Ok, it’s not all about being a cello playing geek, but it is really funny.
Hey! Thanks for coming back! Funny, yes? Ok back to the post…
So these adults I interact with now are all over the fact I play the cello. About how cool it is, and how they wished they had either 1) taken up an instrument or 2) kept up with the one they started in middle school. Again, this isn’t most people who express that same sentiment. It’s that certain subset.
And it bugs me because? They are teaching their kids the exact same attitude. That being expressive and different as a child is weird and something to be mocked. These are the uber-Stepford families that do and watch and wear all the “right” things. And they are the ones who end up being “leaders” in PTA, sports, and the community. As time passes, their kids are the ones who are starting to look at my kids and think that they are a bit odd. They aren’t odd. They are individuals and not afraid to show it. So far. Am I doing a good enough job of making them feel secure in themselves so that when the inevitable teasing starts in earnest that their individuality holds sway?
Julie at Using My Words had thoughts on that subject today, which is kind of what lead to this post, although it’s been in the back of my head since Friday. See, on Friday, I received an email in response to a question I sent to the Governance Board of my school district. I had asked them their plans for starting an orchestra program. There have been rumors and all, so I thought I would try and get some straight answers. Well, my answer was that it just wasn’t something the district was interested in doing. Excuse me? Why? No specific answer, but I can tell you that the district I am in is going through some serious growing pains in changing from a rural district with an emphasis on vocational ed and sports to an affluent district with much different priorities. But the subtext of the message is clear to me: orchestra isn’t for this district. Oh, we’ll see about that….
But back to Julie’s point. It’s so hard to keep the individuality of the kids in this increasingly homogenized culture. And that individuality is so important! It’s the “odd” kids, the geeks, the weirdos, that get anything done. These uber-Stepfords think all the latest gadgets are soooo cool. And seeing the Nutcracker is a great tradition. Let’s not forget all of those wonderful holiday specials like Rankin-Bass. Where do they think this all came from? It came from people who not only think outside of the box, but probably don’t even own a box to begin with. What do you think is going to happen when more and more kids succumb to the pressure and stop being themselves? We, and I’m speaking as a culture here, do not place value on the talents that make our society better. Just look at the tumbleweeds in the halls of engineering departments across the nation. And yet we expect innovation and excellence to just magically appear.
And that’s why I’m annoyed. You mocked me as a kid. But now you need me. It’s ok, I’m still willing to give you what you need. Just do me a favor. If you really think it’s cool, and you aren’t blowing sunshine up my skirt, teach your kids NOW the value of being an individual. In fact, maybe even encourage them to be geeks themselves. Just think of the stock options they’ll give you.