We’ve all heard of, and possibly heaped scorn upon, stage mothers who push their children into the theater or onto the TV screen. Of course, more recently, stage fathers have been in the news, too, pushing daughters onto the pop charts and tennis courts.
The tendency may be hard to control. Parents want to, and should, encourage their kids to do well, but it is sometimes difficult to separate children’s own interests and talents from what their parents wish them to be. Trying to get your children to fulfill your own dreams is an obvious mistake.
I am pretty sure I wasn’t a stage mother. In fact, I may have erred by neglecting to praise my kids enough — by being engaged with my professional life at their expense. Be that as it may, this is all moot now that I’m a grandmother. Yes. Yes. I plan to be a stage grandmother.
On Columbus Day, a day off from school, my Amagansett granddaughters, pursuing their own interests, filled me with delight. One of them is learning to play the viola, and she brought it along when they came over for the afternoon. Did she catch on to how thrilled I was while listening to her practice “Jingle Bell Rock”? The other showed off her two-handed prowess at the piano — after only one lesson. They both love to sing. And one, I must admit (if I’m going to be a stage grandmother I might as well go all the way) is quite magical when she dances.
I sometimes carry on about not having pursued music as a career. There was even a time, in the 1970s, when I entertained the idea of going back to school for a master’s degree in music. Instead, I took voice lessons and courses here and there in theory.
At a recent piano recital sponsored by Music for Montauk at the Montauk Library, however, I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. (Fortunately, for me and everyone else, I did neither.)
Konstantin Soukhovetski, a Pianofest alumnus, is, at the age of 30, an astounding pianist. His pyrotechnics in Ravel’s “La Valse,” for example, won a deserved ovation. He also is a graceful interpreter of quieter pieces. One of them, Mozart’s Fantasia in D minor, struck an emotional chord (if you’ll pardon the pun). My husband couldn’t believe I had once been able to play it, let alone at about 12 or 13. I know how young I was because I stopped studying the piano at 14 when more effort and time would have been required to move ahead. I still wish someone had convinced me that I would eventually find the piano more important than hanging around listening to Frank Sinatra with my girlfriends.
No one has to push either granddaughter toward music now. They are excited about what they are learning. And it sounds good. Living vicariously, I can’t wait to watch and listen as the beat goes on.