Lesbian Mom: Instrumental Anguish
By: Shannon Ralph
My son is killing me. Yet again. Despite Lucas’s struggles in school, he has consistently, since kindergarten, received very high grades in music. His music teacher says that he has a lovely singing voice. He is good at staying in tune. He has a good sense of rhythm. He is—through the inexplicable miracle of genetics—musically inclined.
Yesterday afternoon, he was singing a song to me in the car on the way to the movie theater. He said that he had “written” the song that day. It was quite obvious that he was making it up as he went along. Though I clapped several times during the song (in a cleverly disguised attempt to bring it to an end), it went on and on. And on. Some odd little ditty about the changing of the seasons. As I was listening to his rambling song, I thought to myself, You know, he really does have a nice voice.
Ruanita and I had recently discussed our desire to get Lucas into music lessons of some sort. I would like him to learn to play an instrument. I think he would be good at it. I think he would enjoy it. I think it would give him an outlet for the anxiety he struggles with at times. And, most importantly, I think it may just give him a boost of confidence that could spill over into other areas of his school work. So yesterday afternoon, I decided to take it upon myself to introduce the concept to Lucas. The conversation went a little something like this.
Me: Lucas, would you like to learn to play a musical instrument?
Me: We could sign you up for lessons and you could learn to play an instrument. That would be fun, huh?
Me: So what instrument would you like to learn? What about the guitar or maybe the violin?
Lucas: No, the guitar is too hard for me.
Me: You’ve never had guitar lessons. What makes you think it’s too hard?
Lucas: It just is. I don’t want to play the guitar. Besides, I already know what instrument I want to learn to play.
Me: Oh, great! What’s that?
Lucas: The tuba.
Lucas: Yea, the tuba. Or some other instrument I could blow.
Me: How about a saxophone? It’s an instrument you blow.
Lucas: What’s a saxophone?
Me: It’s a cool, jazzy instrument. Very smooth. Very cool.
Lucas: No, I want to play the tuba.
Okay, I have readily admitted on numerous occasions to being a horrible person. When my firstborn son said that he wanted to learn to play the tuba, my mind immediately envisioned every high school tuba player I’ve ever seen. Overweight kids who barely fit into their marching band uniforms. Boys with a multitude of acne and minimal social skills. Yes, this is a horrible stereotype. I realize the ugliness of what I am typing. But come on. Lucas already has several strikes against him. The glasses, the pasty white skin, the foot orthotics, the video game obsession, the gusto with which he enjoys watching Antiques Roadshow with his momma. Do we really need to introduce a tuba into the mix? So, being the utterly detestable person I am, I tried to talk my son out of the tuba.
Me: Are you sure you want to play the tuba? It’s really big. And heavy. Really heavy.
Lucas: I don’t know. Maybe.
Me: I think you would really enjoy the saxophone or the guitar. Or even the trumpet would be cool. It’s another wind instrument. Trumpet players are super cool. Lots of really cool guys play the trumpet.
Lucas: No, no trumpet. Wait, wait! I know what I want to learn to play! It’s not the tuba. I know exactly what instrument I really, really, really want to play!
Me: (with an obvious sigh of relief) That’s great, Lucas. What instrument is it you want to play?
Lucas: The harp. I want to play the harp.
What the hell?! Perhaps the tuba isn’t so bad, after all.