Sunday, January 10, 2010

Silent Parents - An Enigma

Silent parents, standing back, blending in the background, watching their children.  Patiently waiting without opinion in their eyes, without interference, or suggestion. There was no boredom, no tension, no emotion at all.  A decision was being made and they were totally not part of the process.  They didn't factor into the equation at all.

I saw this image four times in the same store, a big chain music store.  I walked into the drum room of the store.  A young boy of twelve was trying out a set displayed on the floor.  He went from one drum set to another, his concentration on the feel of each set.  His mother stood to the side, and just looked.... just looked like what?  I didn't recognize that look. Was it resignation?  Didn't look like it.

Then I walked into the piano room.  An even younger boy of nine or ten was playing, his mother standing close behind him.  I was impressed.  He was good.  He moved to the next piano, checking the action of the keys before playing another tune. She had the same expression on her face as the mom in the drum room. When I walked in to investigate who was playing, she looked up. I half expected to see a prideful smile, then I thought she might look annoyed at me for the intrusion, but her face showed no expression at all. Interesting.

The same thing in the guitar area.  A father stood silently behind his son as the son tried out several of the electric guitars.  Wow, this is not a look I am used to seeing.  Another father was watching his son of fourteen in the acoustic guitar room.

No involvement, no intrusion in their child's search for an instrument.  Because an instrument must be found my its owner, right?  No one outside can make the decision for an artist, especially for the talented young people I heard today.  The parents stood to the side as though they were wallpaper.

I realized that there was something else missing.  I didn't see the seeking of approval from the kids.  They never looked up at their parent like most kids do, the whole "look at me, mommy" or "isn't this cool." I was waiting for it, but it didn't come. Interaction between parent and child were nil, the child in deep concentration, the parent purposely looking on dispassionately. I figured that the kids must be here with Christmas money and didn't want or need their parents input. But it seemed to be more than that. I usually have a good sense of reading people's expressions, but I couldn't figure this one out.

Was it more that this was a realm that could not be shared? Was the patient parent just waiting for their child to emerge? Was it a learned response from years of conditioning by the child?

It was a puzzlement.

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