Today Archer had his end of semester piano recital, and once again Noel and I are on tenterhooks. Will he perform? Has he practiced enough? Does he understand the situation? If he runs into trouble, will he be able to recover?
As a parent, you know that these are things your kids have to do on their own. But that doesn't mean that every instinct isn't crying out to you to rescue them from potential pitfalls. It occurs to me that the nervousness I feel waiting to see if he'll come through is the same as the stress I've been underneath all this month as my students, in three distinct groups, worked to pull off their projects. I've wanted to insure that they had success, but ultimately it wasn't up to me. My role was to coach, prod, advise, cajole, instill urgency, issue caveats, and provide resources. In the end, they had to do it.
Letting my students take the lead -- acting as a facilitator rather than as one who professes truth -- was a gradual but dramatic transformation for me as a pedagogue. I probably have a long way to go in applying those lessons to my relationship with my children. But when Archer sat down at the piano and rolled through his recital piece like a pro then took his bow with a huge smile on his face, I could see down the road how rewarding it will be when they take the reins and own the accomplishments.