Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Autonomous Time

J has been learning classical Indian dance and from really loving it she has gone to being ever so slightly jaded. Learning any art form is a process with very little immediate or even short term gratification. If there is not enough raw passion to fuel the long, arduous years of learning with no payoff in sight, it is all too easy to quit. And I say this from experience. 

I used to learn Hindustani vocal music as a child and was supposed to have talent as well.
However, the monotony of riyaz was not something I could do past the third year of music school - it was easier to give up and that's what I did. The exhortations of the music teacher and my parents to hone my skills certainly did not help. That said, I am only too aware of the perils of being a nagging parent. Yet, I constantly remind J to practice dance and get irritated with her when she slacks and her movements turn rusty - its takes so much work to achieve grace and so unfairly easy to lose it. 
Lately I have been thinking about why it is that a lot of kids will sooner give up something they really love than stick with it to achieve mastery. I know J is at that tipping point where a little more pressure from me will make her keel - her love of dance will not be enough to overcome her resentment of the adults in her life managing her time. There is school, after school activities and little chores that occupy most of her waking hours. The deficit of autonomous time keeps growing and with it her resentment towards the activities that are responsible for that. To that end, doing anything that would be construed "constructive" by an adult is tantamount to further loss of autonomy and it is resisted furiously. In the child's mind their ability to rebel and protest is far more empowering and exhilarating than working on discovering what they really have passion for.
I wish I knew how to keep that spark alive in J, that thing she was born with that once made her dance to any music, improvise the pieces that she had been taught by her teacher, that feeling of physical oneness with music. There is something to be said of leaving good enough alone.

1 comment:

Hope said...

That's so true. I feel that parents owe a lot to a child's dying urge or passions. I think, as parents, it's our responsibility to keep that alive. And the only way to do that, is to let them be. If they are enjoying it, let them enjoy. If they want to quit, let them quit it for a while, but do remind J on how much she enjoyed doing it. She may want to go back and re-join it, then. And, then, she'll not mind the hard work.