The dark side of prodigy

There are stories of what kids did in order to achieve incredibly unlikely goals. Taylor Swift had her whole family relocate to Nashville. Gymnast Gabby Douglas left her Virginia family to go live with her Iowa coach. The pianist Conrad Tao's family moved from southern Illinois to northern Illinois for a piano teacher and then they relocated to New York City, where the grand piano took up the second bedroom in the apartment.

The problem with listening to these stories is that the kids had huge success. So it's plausible to consider that the sacrifices were worth it. But what about all the families that made huge sacrifices and did not have huge success? I fear I might be documenting one of those families as I tell you what life is like with my son and his cello.

I am scared that maybe I'm delusional about my son's talent or my son's wishes.

In almost all cases these wildly successful kids are homeschooled, but it's a part of the homeschooling community we rarely read about. The irony is that my son's nursery school teacher knew. He had potty trained himself before age two. No one was sure how he did it. He was faster at everything. The preschool teacher told me, "You will have your hands full. A regular school will not work for him."

I ignored her. I thought to myself, "Does she know I have a son with autism? There is no way that the kid who does not have autism is going to be my problem kid. Because problem is relative."

In fact, the kid without austim has been more difficult. Prodigy is just as disruptive to a family as any other type of drastic difference.

So, here's the email I wrote to his cello teacher yesterday:

Zehavi has cried every night before bed four nights in a row because he's so stressed from the travel. I tell him that we don't need to go to all the lessons. I tell him he can skip any lesson he wants. He does not want to skip lessons. Last night he was crying in bed and I said "We don't even see Gilda on Saturdays. Let's just not go to music lessons tomorrow. Let's take a day off." And he said, "But musicianship is my favorite class. I don't want to miss it."

I feel like I'm doing something wrong. It feels crazy that I have a son who loves music classes so much that he will cry every night and still go to them. It feels crazy that we are driving so much so that a seven-year-old can take cello lessons. I have very little understanding of how good he is. I see that you are a great teacher and no one has been like you. But I start to feel crazy that we are doing this. Then I think I should live in Winnetka with him for half the week. But mostly he cries about missing being at home. 

I read about families that moved to be closer to the music lessons. My husband will never move. He's a farmer and he's lived on this farm his whole life. And my son who is autisic is very good on the farm. It would not be good for him to move. 

 I guess I am just scared that I'm making decisions that are not good for Zehavi. I am scared that he's crying at night. I am scared that I have no sense of how good he is, and even if I did know how good he is, I have read enough to know that it doesn't matter—you can never really know what will happen as a musician grows up. Can you help me think about this better? You always have so much clarity about what Zehavi should be doing. 

Thanks, 

Penelope

I'm not going to print her response. But she basically told me to talk with him about skipping some lessons, and that skipping is okay. And that he's very gifted, and we should keep going.

There is no simple resolution to this post. I don't know if people will say, "The mother was so devoted, she drove sixteen hours a week." Or if they will say, "The mother was so delusional, and she even had to start homeschooling him." So I don't know if I'm an idiot for letting cello take over so much of our family life.

It's similar to homeschooling in that way, though: You do your best for your kids. No one can tell you if it's the right decision. They can just tell you it's very nonstandard, usually in a judgmental way. And then you go with your gut.

Posted in Parents
42 comments on “The dark side of prodigy
  1. Joanna says:

    What defines "worth it" for you? If Zehavi goes to Julliard or becomes the next Yo Yo Ma? As you said, in homeschooling, and in parenting itself, we go with our gut, making choices and sacrifices and hope for the best. There are no guarantees. And sometimes the value of our efforts go far beyond the obvious results. Regardless of how Zehavi ultimately uses his musical gifts, he will have learned that you gave your all to support them.

  2. Yanik says:

    Would it be possible for you have your son and his music teacher Skype or use the Hangout feature on G+ for his lessons?

    Why travel all that way, when you can video-conference? I know that the Soul Travelers 3 http://goo.gl/h2Kq6 have been using this method for years. Perhaps it could be a solution for your son too?

  3. Jim says:

    Could it be that some of your son's drive to get to lessons has to do with wanting to please you? If that's a part of the equation, I wonder what would happen if you were able to help him understand and feel that you love and accept him music lessons or no. Perhaps it would help him.

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      Of course he is well aware that I hate driving to cello. We have conversations all the time about how much it sucks. And I know nothing about music. I am so useless on cello that for his piano lessons, I am uninvolved. He manages his own practices. So probably it is the opposite – he's a people pleaser, and his instinct is probably to not take lessons, because it's a pain for the whole family.

      Penelope

  4. Sadya says:

    He doesnt want to be left behind in his class. If he knows he can catch up later , that he'll still be at par as his classmates then maybe he'll be willing to skip a few classes.
    Must be tough for both of you :-(

  5. Mark Kenski says:

    The first thing I would have thought of was what you mentioned in your post: spend a night or two a week in the town where the class is held to reduce the number of trips. You say the main problem with the travel is missing being home, though.

    Before abandoning this option, it would be worthwhile to have some more in depth conversations with your sons and your husband and think it through, maybe you will find it is worth it to at least give it a try.

    Because of the nature of your work, perhaps it would be good for you to have a couple days a week away from the farm with less interruptions and a different rhythm to allow for things like getting books read and project work done. It could be an adventure. Perhaps there are classmates your son could spend more time with if you stayed in town a night or two, and perhaps that might help offset the homesickness.

    In this scenario, you could use skype or online gaming for your sons to spend time together when he is out of town. It seems to me the life Zehavi will have if he continues on this path will be a life of travel for performances. If it is the inherent instability and change associated with travel that upsets him, then either he has to find it in himself to be ok with that somehow or he needs to come up with a very creative solution–and something needs to push him to arrive at that. Perhaps he will be a teacher like Gilda one day but teach online and have students all over the world without leaving his house, who knows?

    But it seems to me that you do have a real challenge here, so it's important not to try and solve it before you have all the facts. Talk to your sons–you drive 16 hours a week, have you spent 16 hours talking about this with your family? I realize that with asperger's that may not have occurred to you, and maybe it is not something you can do. But it is what I would recommend to the extent that it is possible.

    If you have to be home, maybe you could alternate and have your son spend two nights a week with classmate friends, while you return home. At least it would be cutting his travel, and you could use the car time to listen to books on tape, podcasts of interest to you, or maybe even do your coaching calls.

    Maybe there is a way that the teacher could give your son the next class period's work the day before, and have a call with her after the session. It would be extra work for everyone, but maybe it would be feasible. You probably have a few bucks to spare and that could help with coming up with a custom solution that works for everyone.

    Maybe someone would be willing to help you videoconference into the class a couple days a week? It might be something you could do with something as simple as facetime on an an iphone.

    But you need to get to know the parents of the classmates and see what the unexplored options might be. Or hire someone to get to know them for you and give you a detailed report? ;)

    If all else fails, it's not a disaster, it's discomfort. Life's a package deal and sometimes that comes with the package and you just grow through it. Work at making the trips more worthwhile; perhaps your son can use his iPad to spend the time in the car learning something he enjoys or doing something he looks forward to, so at least the drive is not as noticeable.

    Above all, for yourself, realize that this problem is one of doing what's best for your kids with what you've got. If you must have problems, and you must, these are good problems to have. You might fail to arrive at what you feel would be a perfect solution, but that won't be the end of the world.

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      We set things up so that we were living three days a week in the Chicago-area and four days a week on the farm. Everyone hated it. So we decided that at least for now, it's worth it to come home each night.

      Penelope

  6. Amy Lynn Andrews says:

    Why not fly? I'm serious. Find a pilot who flies a small plane and can take you back and forth at least once a week. Maybe even both times.

    In a farming community, there's got to be pilots who are crop dusters that might like to make some extra money on the side. Or hobby pilots who would like to make extra money on the side. Who knows.

    It would seem to me you'd kill several birds with one stone–cut out the driving time, cut out the stress, Zehavi gets to continue what he enjoys plus explore the world of small aircraft. You have more time to do what you want to do instead of being limited to what you can squeeze into the driving time. The list goes on…

    Crazy idea? Perhaps. Costly? Probably, but what's your time (and sanity) worth? And his love for music and the potential there is in it for him?

    I have no idea how practical it would be, but if I were in your shoes, I'd probably explore it.

    Just the way my brain swirls…

  7. Gareth says:

    Even more apropos here:

    http://www.vanityfair.com/society/2012/12/aa-gill-schools-ruining-our-kids

    The worst thing that could happen to a child, Gill argues, is being a prodigy or standout of some kind, because he will be chained to that at too early an age.

    "Nothing good ever came from peaking too early.

    The interesting adults are always the school failures, the weird ones, the losers, the malcontents. This isn’t wishful thinking. It’s the rule. My advice to any child reading this: If you’re particularly good at the violin or math, for God’s sake don’t let anyone find out. Particularly your parents. If they know you’re good at stuff they’ll force you to do it forever. You’ll wake up and find yourself in a sweaty dinner jacket and clip-on bow tie playing “The Music of the Night” for the ten-thousandth time in an orchestra pit. Or you’ll be the fat, 40-ish accountant doing taxes for the people who spent their school days copping a feel and learning how to roll a good joint."

    If my kids are prodigies, they're wisely hiding it from me. But we do have fun playing music together.

    Music as a career is subject to a superstar system: a handful of superstars make a living at it, while thousands of others either do it as a hobby, supporting themselves well or poorly with another career or job, or make a precarious living gigging occasionally and teaching the next generation of strivers. I would not recommend it. As you have noted, success means you lose your son at an early age, and your contact with him as an adult becomes sporadic or virtual at best. The much more common outcome – failure – comes in a variety of colors, from a lifetime in retail food service as dreams slowly wash out, to a miserable existence as a freelance Suzuki teacher in a drafty fourth-floor walkup with too many cats.

    My son studies violin (as do I), though he's not displayed any unusual gifts, and my daughter, 2, enthusiastically squeaks along in support on a 1/16. I ask myself sometimes what the point of this is, and the answer I usually come to is that it's nice to be able to play music. The best outcome is really that we can, as a family, play nice music together sometimes. My wife joins in on the piano or clarinet and it's a good time had by one and all. When extended family come, it's even more fun. Our friends and family have collaborated on chamber music performances as well as traditional music jams.

    I recommend thinking of music not just as putting all your effort on one number on the roulette wheel of superstardom elsewhere, but also in terms of the pleasant and tangible daily benefits of music where you are now.

    It sounds like one of the problems you're facing is that your son doesn't have any friends or family to play music with. Is it possible to find more of a musical community either in the location of your farm or your lessons? Or maybe near Madison, which is a couple hours closer to you than Chicago?

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      I'm surprised where this conversation is going. But here…

      My son does not need a teacher to teach him the stuff other kids learn. He was born knowing how to play the songs. I don't know how. I have no idea how to play the cello. I don't know how he knows what he knows.

      So this teacher is special because she sees kids like this a lot. They all come to her. And she knows how to not ruin them. She forces him to stop learning new songs. She tells him no playing Bach. Save it for when you're older. She tells him no taking extra lessons. Go home and play twinkle.

      This actually reminds me of the class my autistic son was in when he was two-years old. It was full of autistic two-year-olds who could read. And the teachers wouldn't let them read. Maybe there is something there — that all kids learning too fast are dangerous. I don't know.

      Penelope

      • John says:

        Why not let him play what he wants to? That's the whole point of being a prodigy! Make a YouTube of him playing things like Jungha Sung does the Guitar and he'll be a celebrity earning his livelihood while still a child in no time.

  8. Alina Bas says:

    Penelope,
    Would it be an option to throw some money at the problem and get a teacher (or several specialty teachers) to drive to your son? I understand that he's learning using a special method, and that you are very happy with your current teachers. Yet, if you can get this or another teacher that is good enough, and willing to travel (or to live on the farm for some time), it may be worth experimenting with.

  9. Mark W. says:

    I can only comment based on the limited information in your blog posts. I say limited because, even though you have written quite a bit about your son and the homeschooling experiences, it is still limited.
    It seems to me as though you're trying to solve the problem before the diagnosis is established as being correct. Your son "has cried every night before bed four nights in a row because he's so stressed from the travel." He's definitely crying but is it because he's stressed from the travel. Is he saying that or are you making that assessment? Either way, the root cause of his stress and crying may not be the travel or it may only be a contributing factor. I think you need to ask more questions to find the questions that will eventually reveal the answer(s) to the cause(s). After that I think it comes down to negotiations with everyone in the family to find solutions. Those are some ideas on what would be my approach.

    • redrock says:

      interesting point. I can remember as a child to really really want to learn things and there was just no opportunity. If he is absorbed in music, I think it is wonderful. I can see that the farm-life and music-life are difficult to reconcile, and he probably is feeling this tension. On the other hand, playing the cello must feel like "life" to him, like the air he needs to breathe. Independent of whether he really is a prodigy or whether he will become a famous musician. So, in this respect I actually think the vanity fair article is stupid – if you have a gift, why should you hide it? Sure, you will stand out, but… who cares. It is your life and not the life of the group around you.

  10. Dana says:

    I think it's easy to forget that no one has identical circumstances to yours. We give insight – make recommendations – based on our experiences, not yours. My only insight/recommendation is to do what feels right until it no longer feels right.

  11. Jamie Swanson says:

    I don't have any answers, but I'd like you to know that it's helpful to hear your struggles with homeschooling and the things you question. I am so thankful that we homeschool, but it's so hard at the same time so your posts are always a great encouragement. There are just days I wish I could just throw in the towel and not have to worry about it, but that's the lazy way out. Sigh.

    Hope you find some balance in all this.

    Warmly,
    Jamie

  12. karelys says:

    I love his name!

    it's so much pressure to choose what we want to do when we get the option to do it. Last night I got to pick a movie from Netflix. Too much pressure to find something good for both husband and I.
    I imagine it can be so much pressure for Z to choose one thing or the other. Especially seeing how much he's invested.

    I forget how old he is. I was very young, like 7 or 8, when my birthday rolled around and my dad said I got to choose between getting a certain doll I had been desiring for years or a tv that would benefit the whole family. Of course I went for the tv, or I'd seem selfish. To this day the story makes me angry. Kids know from a very young age but sometimes they can't untangle it.

    What would happen if he trained like he was not a prodigy? More relaxed but I assume his talent would shine through. At least until he's mature enough to decide for himself.

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      When he had regular teachers he was bored and he hated it. When I say, "We can just go back to one of the teachers in Wisconsin," he doesn't even take the option seriously. The reason he is willing to drive for so long is because he loves the teacher so much.

      Penelope

      • karelys says:

        Clearly I spoke without knowledge of how much actually goes into being a prodigy.
        That makes sense though.

  13. Jana Miller says:

    I believe that if we raise decent human beings, then we have done our job as a parent. You are doing just that by helping him understand himself and by helping him determine what he needs. Sometimes kids don't know.

    For instance a kid gets really cranky when they haven't slept but how many kids actually will say I want to go to bed. A few maybe but most will want to delay bedtime.

    You are doing a good job by not pushing him. I think you are being incredibly supportive by taking him to classes and I hope you work something out via skype or some kind of video conferencing. You may save thousands of dollars and your sanity!

    • karelys says:

      This is a really sweet reminder. Because at the end that's what unschooling (and good parenting I think) is all about.

  14. Lauren says:

    It's entirely possible that he's going through a growth spurt and just needs a little extra rest. Consistent tears at bedtime would tend to indicate, to me, over-tiredness and a need to go to bed earlier.

    After that, I'm just going to say that if either one of you isn't happy with what you're doing, you should find a way to change it. If it takes him a little longer to get to the same level of achievement he would otherwise, whoop-de-doo. He's got his whole life ahead of him. If he really wants to be a great concert cellist, he can be, even if it's as an adult instead of as a child. That actually sounds better to me, although I know he won't be as "differentiated". Also, he sounds like he's got ability in many areas; make sure he gets a chance to exercise some of the areas in which there's a higher probability of being able to make a living.

  15. Julianna says:

    If it were me, I'd try

    1) skype.
    2) break out of this "afterschool" schedule since you don't have school and do music "camps" so no in-person lessons for 3 weeks and then 4 days in a row of lessons.
    3) I'd ask him to be more clear on how it's his favorite. And since that's hard to quantify as a kid, I'd ask him, what if he cut lessons in half and then did 2-weeks at a sleepaway camp — or etc etc. "it's my favorite" says nothing to me. he knows it's "what I'm good at" and that is an easily transferable emotion.

    • karelys says:

      wow this is great!

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      He would never choose to go to camp without his cello. Here is a list of stuff he loved that he has stopped so that he'd have more time for cello:

      Soccer
      Karate
      Swimming
      Baseball
      Skateboarding

      No parent could convince a kid to do this. It has to come from inside the kid. It's too extreme. I couldn't even dream it up myself.

      Penelope

      • Julianna says:

        I meant a music camp. I think he'd love Interlochen (I did!) and if he'll be 8 before this summer, he can do that. It's a special place.

        • Daven says:

          Interlochen! Yes! It's a fantastic music camp — fine arts camp, now — full of prodigies and mentors. Oh, absolutely.

  16. Penelope Trunk says:

    I have read through these comments. Thank you for all your ideas.

    What I realize is that the music is just like the homeschooling. It's not about the result — like, acceptance into a great school or whatever — it's about the process. Growing up doing stuff the kid likes is nice. It's nice to let the child choose what to learn and how to learn and support the kid doing that.

    And it's hard to make choices that are different. It's surprising to me that the homeschooling community is so similar to the music community. But now that I read this comment string, it makes perfect sense.

    Penelope

  17. Zellie says:

    A child can clearly want to do something and be stressed over the toll it takes at the same time. I don't know the answer. When my daughter's hair began falling out I made the tough decisions to cut lots of travel.

    It feels terrible to feel terrible about something. Even if you love it.

  18. wen says:

    Have you heard of the book Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/25/books/review/far-from-the-tree-by-andrew-solomon.html

    From the review:

    “Parenting is no sport for perfectionists,” Andrew Solomon rather gloriously understates toward the end of “Far From the Tree”…

    Solomon spent 10 years interviewing more than 300 families with “exceptional” children. That is, children with “horizontal identities”…families of individuals affected by a spectrum of cognitive, physical or psychological differences: “They are deaf or dwarfs; they have Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia or multiple severe disabilities; they are prodigies; they are people conceived in rape or who commit crimes; they are transgender.”

    His interviews yielded nearly 40,000 transcript pages and his “anti-Tolstoyan” conclusion that “the unhappy families who reject their variant children have much in common, while the happy ones who strive to accept them are happy in a multitude of ways.”

  19. Daniel Baskin says:

    I like that the teacher tells students to wait to play Bach and instead assigns simpler music. Music is about expressing music first before increasing complexity. Musical and technical maturity come first–otherwise bad habits form and kids get a false sense of confidence / musical maturity.

    My vote (not knowing the circumstances as well as you) would go to skyping more frequent (and possibly shorter) lessons (maybe 15-30 minutes if it is normally 30-60 minutes), and then going in person less often. Obviously this implicates and the teacher's schedule and must weave around those needs. But only my first thought.

    The most important thing for learning is that one enjoys learning. That is the cornerstone element. Nothing else matters. But, if one is not enjoying learning, there are multiple solutions other than quitting (though, that is always on the table). Mostly it's just adjusting the mindset and/or allowing change. (Sorry, talking in circles).

  20. C.A. McCarren says:

    "Love him."

  21. lyndap says:

    Just a few questions to think about…Is it the teacher and what she offers that he loves or is it the person the teacher is that he loves or both? If the lessons stopped, would he keep playing on his own for the joy and challenge of it?

    Hey, even professional athletes don't play their sport all year long without a break. Not only is it physically not wise but also mentally. Maybe a short "vacation" is in order for everyone, including you. Sometimes that break is what is needed to continue to grow to even higher levels without some of the mental frustrations. Just a few thoughts

  22. Morgan says:

    Are you sure he's actually upset about the travel and not some other family discord you often document on your other blog?

  23. abby says:

    I wish this discussion could have moved differently. I am interested in how parents find the strength to acknowledge a child prodigy. Honestly, I can barely say the word prodigy without flinching. I had the same problem in traditional schools when Gifted and Talented programs were talked about. I find this labeling especially hard in a family where not all of the siblings have the same labels. Why is there so much fear and awkwardness when talking about kids with special talents?

    Also, I don't understand how early potty training and music prodigy are linked? Does your son just pick up all new skills easily or does he love music specifically? Does he play on his own all the time because he loves it?

    I have a son who is a professional actor. I moved to Los Angeles to support him. It took me eight years to make the decision to move and fully support his vision. I wish I wouldn't have analyzed and fretted so much. I remember driving my son to productions in cities too far away to mention and feeling crazy. Now I realize there is nothing that compares to watching your child flourish in a creative community where there are no limits beyond not showing up to play.

    I meet stage parents all the time who talk about the same issues you are dealing with now. I can always tell the parents who are frustrated by what they are giving up to support their kids' creative passion. And the kids know it too. Believe me. Penelope, that letter would signal lots of problems in my world. Agents/managers and professional coaches do not want to work with families where everyone is not on board. It is not a sacrifice. It is a privilege to have a shot at a creative life. Creative people have different skills than normal people, and better they learn them early from parents and mentors as pleasures rather than hardships.

    Creative people don't always live in one stable place. They need to embrace flexibility and travel. Creative types are often separated from family. They need to be okay with that. And they need to be okay with having crying jags and the real dark side emotions of the creative personality. They crash. It's okay. As parents we need to understand that they crash AND still want to follow their creative dreams.

    The happiest parents I know in LA are the ones who grew up with some sort of specialized creative childhood themselves. I do not have this background, so I need mentoring myself and have had to learn to relax and turn down my analytical mind here. I know a professional ballerina mom who lived on her own in New York City from age 15, and then she was a professional ballerina for ten years, and now her son is an aspiring actor. Her husband lives in New York and they see him every few months. She misses her husband, but loves supporting her son and handles the instability and long distance relationship with grace. Another mom I know was a professional Opera singer and toured the US with several productions. Now she travels all the time with her son for his work and celebrates how lucky she is to still be seeing new parts of the world. Her second son and husband live in Ohio. These are also the parents who are the least likely to ask about how much talent their kids have. They know anything can happen and all anyone creative can ask for is to do what they love and hopefully be able to support themselves by it. And if you can't? Might as well make it fun. Without labels. Without pressure. Without sacrifice.

    Good luck. And by the way, the suggestion of Interlochen should not be tossed off. Even if the teaching style is different than your son's current teaching, the wonder of spending concentrated time with other passionate creative types can't be beat. My son loved his years there and it's right in your own backyard. Kids come from all over the world for a chance to attend.

  24. Judy says:

    If the issue really is the excessive travel, here's a practical suggestion: Does your kid like stories? Audible.com has 100s of thousands of books you can download.

    Books on ipod actually have me looking forward to my commute, yardwork and even housework.

    Look for some books that you can both enjoy.

  25. Daniel Baskin says:

    I feel the unwritten rule that one should not comment twice, but whatever. If I break it, that would just help change the rule.

    I don't think I could/would sacrifice much for my kids on this level. I don't know how much of this is due to selfishness or what. Would the world be a better, worse, or just different place if no parent sacrificed this much for prodigy children? I'm inclined to think that the world would at least not be a worse place.

    Maybe I'm just obsessed with finding the laziest way to accomplish goals. To me, the more effort you have to put into a goal, the more ill-focused that goal may be. The more work you put into something, the more biased you are to think you chose your goals correctly. (Yes, spoken like a true "P" that likes to leave their options open). Nothing is worth getting so excited for that you have to cause harm to one's other family members and oneself. Maybe that's being a killjoy.

    With the internet, it is easier than ever to find multiple solutions for finding learning opportunities. I dunno. Anecdotally, I hear from others how hard they vie for "success." Success is an illusion we create for ourselves. You don't need to sacrifice learning in order to make things easier on everyone. In fact, taking the pressure off increases perspective.

    Everything will be fine no matter what you do. It all depends on how far you want to chase the wild goose. (Sorry, this is a really INTP-esque post).

  26. Laurie says:

    Penelope, you are such an interesting mother and it is evident you love your boys deeply by the actions you passionately put into making sure you are doing right by them. I couldn't begin to offer up any advice but I wish you the very best with it all.

  27. channa says:

    The airplane suggestion is awesome. In the small town where I grew up you can get commuter flights for a few hundred $. If you save the money on gas, hotel and meals not to mention your time then it would totally be worth it. Plus getting to observe the pilot is like a bonus lesson.

    Otherwise I'd look for some high-end video conferencing equipment to occasionally do lessons remotely. I'm sure it's not the same but maybe it would keep him satisfied enough to cut out one or two of the drives per month which would add up to a lot of time.

  28. Annabel candy says:

    Just go once a week and attend the other classes via Skype. Should be easy to set up and adjust to and make life easier for all.

  29. Jenn says:

    If you have not read it already, please read Battle Hymn of a Tiger Mother….Amy Chua….she deals with the same thing and she has two child prodigies, one in Piano and one in Violin….the things she does to herself and her children to nurture these talents may help you put things in perspective……

    • CL says:

      I'm fairly certain that Penelope has read Amy Chua's book. The major difference is that the motivation was not internal, but external. Chua documents a lot of terrible things that Sophia remembers Chua saying to her when it came to music. Zehavi WANTS to do this and has made personal sacrifices as a result.

      I think the real issue is not travel, though that may be the way that Zehavi is categorizing it now. My first instinct was the plane suggestion, since I grew up with friends with pilot dads. It would be a great stress reliever. I looked up how far Winnetka was from Darlington and I was appalled that you and your son were willing to drive that far that often. I've read almost all of your blog posts, from the beginning. I know that you have several on commuting and I looked them up. You know and have linked to research that shows how commuting makes people unhappy. You may need to live in Winnetka for part of the week, no matter what your son says about missing the farm. Alternatively, it could probably be a good idea for you to hire somebody to drive your son to his cello lessons, since driving is really taking a toll on you. If he is a people pleaser (which you've written about multiple times), then it's stressing him out to know that doing something he loves is something you hate. It may not be traveling but actually dealing with conflicting needs that is getting to him. http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2004/02/23/consider-the-commute-before-you-take-a-new-job/