Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Getting Old

On Wednesday evening I took my lovable fourteen year old bag of female hormones, teenage moodiness and angst along to "interview" a new potential drum teacher.

She's been playing the drums since about a year before she could understand the sentence "Wouldn't you like to learn the drums?" and is now pretty good at it, even if I say it myself.

All parents agree that there's nothing worse than those pushy parents who try to push their dreams onto their kids but they'll all agree that it's different when your own child shows the tiniest, slightest and littlest hint of passing interest in something that you love yourself. It's other parents that are the problem.

I'm a bashful sort of chap as you know, but over the years I've come to the conclusion that teaching and training isn't one of my fortes. I can muddle through if the pupil is a staff member who might be scared of me or of being fired or if they're actually keen to learn. Give me one of my own daughters to teach something to and I'm about as useful as a g string on Koluu.

This has meant that over the years, after I tried to show A (14 yr old) the basics, she has had drum lessons with other people. My role is to help with homework, drum up enthusiasm and try to keep her motivated and interested in music and drumming.

So there we were. Outside a new potential teacher whose name I hadn't heard of. It had been arranged my A's mother and I was dubious of the fellow's credentials as a drum teacher. Well, when I say "dubious" I mean I didn't think he had any credentials, unless a pair of sticks counts.

I knocked on the door of credentialess' flat and he opened it. He had blonde wispy hair and a blonde wispy beard, the kind of beard that blokes grow when they first experience some facial hair, just because they can. I did the introductions and he mumbled and grunted a few things. He seemed nice enough in a twenty years younger than me sort of way as he led us to his drum room.

I asked him some questions about his drumming, his teaching and his credibility as a drum teacher but couldn't help feeling guilty. He had that look as if he might just break down in tears at any moment and I refrained from asking anything that he might deem as a bit tough. I had found out enough to think that he had a good dollop of knowledge and that his approach to teaching kids was reasonable. He told me and A a bit about things and started a sort of trial lesson, as much for him to assess A as it was for us to assess him.

After several minutes of three of us trying to fit in a room about the size of Dinidu's wallet I gallantly suggested that I should slope off somewhere and leave them to it. The speed and force of A's answer took me surprise. I'd expected something like

"No Dad you stay there", perhaps giving me that look that kids give to a parent when they need support or comfort.

My question of "would you prefer it if I left you two to it?"

was met with a resounding "yes" from A as soon as I got to the L in left.

All the wisdom of twenty and a bit years clearly hadn't given the drum teacher the skills to deal with this complex scenario. He looked confused and had that scrunched up face like George W Bush trying to remember how to spell Mississippi. Evidently this was a situation that was new to him, like the beard. Experienced drum teachers have waiting rooms and piles of magazines or just callously tell the estranged parent to bugger off and come back in an hour. The kid was worried about me so kindly suggested I go in the other room and mix with his girlfriend.

I ambled into the room and said some casual words to the girlfriend. She told me that she was catching up with emails as she'd spent the day shopping but that she's usually a student. Then she offered me a coffee and the use of the Wii thing. She held up the steering wheel bit and asked if I'd like to play. The temptation to crack a double entendre based joke was strong, but I resisted. Instead I looked at it with the disdain you'd expect from me. I felt as if I was Jeeves being offered a job in McDonalds for a week or two and tried not to scoff outwardly as I declined.

I just sat there in the boyfriend's Wii armchair and pretended to be deep in thought. She had kindly given me the TV remote to channel surf with but I stared at the Simpsons and continued to portray that air of a mature but good looking young at heart father of her boyfriend's new student who was thinking about serious issues.

The real things happening inside my head were merely that I was straining to listen to the lesson A was having, which to be fair sounded good, and I was contemplating the idea of dashing out to my car to get the book I'd brought to read. After some brain usage I decided against the book dash idea. I figured that it would be awkward, maybe even rude, to run out and get it and to expect that I could come back and sit in front of her reading, but reading in the car would prevent me listening to A's lesson. The girlfriend was quite cute too, in that "damn I'm just way too old" way.

I kicked off the conversation and discovered that she was a student nurse. This just made me feel depressed and old. I went out with a student nurse some time ago and I know what they can be like. Sadly this really was some time ago and these days the only circumstances that would find me undressed in front of a student nurse would probably involve some sort of back pain from picking up a drumstick at the wrong angle or turning a page in a book a bit too quickly.

We conversed, I told her a bit about my theory of music personality and she pretended to listen with interest. In turn I pretended to listen to her while I tried to listen to the lesson taking place in the next room. Before I knew it the daughter (mine) and the drum teaching boyfriend (the student nurse's) emerged.

Us drummers are an abundant lot, which is part of my theory of music personality, but that's for another time. We're such a strange species that, put us together with another or some other drummers, and we chat away about tips, equipment and technique like there's no tomorrow. There's not much secrecy that goes on between us. So me and the drum teacher spent some minutes exchanging pleasantries about drum kits, cymbals, pedals and the like. At one point even Nursey (student) joined in.

Then we said our goodbyes, I told him I'd call about further lessons and off A and I went. I thought everyone was happy. If you've been reading my blog for any length of time you'll know that, whenever I think everyone's happy, I'm usually wrong. This was another one of those times.

"So?" I said to A as we drove away.

"How was it?" I asked.

"Good, but don't EVER do that again Dad".

On a scale of one to ten for being stunned and surprised I must have been at about infinity plus seven.

"Don't ever do what again?" I asked.

"Don't talk to people like that as if you're one of us".

"Eh, what do you mean, one of us?"

"I mean don't pretend you're young, that's why I keep you away from my friends, it's embarrassing".

"But I wasn't, we were just talking about drum stuff, that's what drummers do".

"Just don't Dad, okay".

I let it lie, but I sulked for the rest of the journey.

Later on, over dinner, I moaned to K, the twelve year old about this. I thought her wisdom might shine through and help me. Through massive mouthfuls of rice she listened to me, then she listened to her older sibling's side of the story. Then she delivered her verdict. I prepared my mind so that I didn't gloat too much to A afterwards. The verdict came:

"It's no use Dad, there's just no point pretending you're young and hip like you never were in the first place".

Next time I'll read my book and stay in the car.


Ineshka said...

Awesomely (I hope there is a word like that) funny! :)) Oh, the trials of being a father is teenagers!! :)) hehee:) But never fret, they will definitely come around - in about 10 years time :) Thanks for this lovely post, I had a laugh early in the morning and it felt good! :)

Gehan said...

ouch.. da pain... i could feel tat all way from lanka...

my sympathies.. :D

Java Jones said...

You gotta cultivate da 'cool' vibe, maan, den dat chronology sheet don' matter none

Sabby said...


There, There...they'll come around soon enough and sense the uber koolness oozing out of you!?! =)

janusis said...

Damn, that's painful.. You got it right where it hurts the most..

Sapphira said...

Hahaha...but aww. I wonder if I do this to my parents without even realising it! I think my dad feels quite old, because everyone thinks my mum and I are sisters.
Poor man, I must make a note to be more sensitive in future.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Ineshka - thanks for appreciating the post. I think you're right about the girls coming round in about 10 years' time. It would be so easy if it wasn't for the waiting!

Gehan - Thanks for the sympathies

Mr Jones - I need to work on this "cool" vibe for sure. How much do you charge for lessons?

Sabby - They will after my lessons with Java.

Sapphira - I'm happy to have helped you!

FINroD said...

u kno mate i dont mean to sound rude but ur daughter is VERY rude.. if i talked lyk tht to my parents idve gotten a nice thorough beating from then.... hmph... these kids these days dont respect elders...

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Finrod - You have a good point. When I was a young kid I never would have dared talking to my Dad like that. But, when I was 14 things were a bit different and here in the UK the parent and child relationship is very different to that in many Asian countries.

Java Jones said...

RD - you're on maan. Bring yo drum set to Flowerbook for a few days and I'll have a stock of goodies to start you off on dat 'cool vibe', while you give me some drum lessons. How's dat??!!