Teaching vs. Tears

My ten-year old and I had a rough day.  During the spring, my daughter took guitar lessons.  Now that it’s summer, she isn’t taking any classes, but we do expect her to practice two or three times a week.  Since I have been teaching myself how to play the electric guitar, I decided to “jam” with her for a bit.  And that’s when we entered some bumpy territory.

It all started when I wanted to show her how to play a “G chord.”  I showed her how to position her fingers, and strummed my guitar to demonstrate the chord’s sound.  She then told me that I was wrong.  She played a different chord — one that she claimed was actually G.  So, I showed her  the guitar tabs in the book.  Then she said that I was playing it backwards — that her teacher showed her the real way to play a G chord and that she knew what she was doing.

A few moments later she burst into tears.  Gradually, I convinced her that she might be thinking of a different chord.  And when she finally agreed that I was right — she was too distraught to position her fingers, let alone learn any new chords.

Afterwards, we had a family meeting — led by the most level-headed member of the household: my wife.  She asked why the music session had ended so traumatically.  I explained the situation and also added a bit about my recurring frustration with homeschooling.  I’ll sum it up for you readers:

When I work with the girls on subjects that I excel at (such as writing, spelling, art, history), they enjoy working with me for hours on end.  They are eager to learn, and eager to put their newfound knowledge into practice. However, when I am working with them on subjects in which I am admittedly NOT an expert, the girls resist my instruction.  This happens mainly when I try to help them with math.  It’s not my favorite subject, and the girls know this (in retrospect I wonder if I should have been so open about my academic preferences).  However, I am more than capable of completing math assignments from 1st through the 10th grade.  But those girls would much rather hear from their mathematically  inclined mother.

I think the meeting ended well.  I told them that I was enthusiastic about them learning all sorts of subjects — and that even though I have my favorites, I am constantly learning about science, music, and even algebra.  I wanted them to know that their tears seem to be an attempt to curb my role as a teacher.  (I know that most of the time they would rather have me as their playful father).

We’ll see how things go.  On Friday we’ve scheduled another jam session.  Cross your fingers for us!