Monday, January 19, 2009

Singing Lesson Problems.

Until this month, singing lessons were one of the highlights of our week. Now they're the part of the week that makes me turn into an angry beast.

Lessons are in the back of a music store, where they have a bunch of small office-type rooms. When we returned after Christmas break, Corina's teacher told us they didn't have enough rooms to go around, and some students had to have their lessons in the coffee room. Corina is one of those lucky students. It's not really a proper lesson room at all, but I figured it wouldn't be all that bad. I did think it was odd that the woman in charge of these things didn't phone and ask me if I minded that, or maybe offer to knock a couple bucks off the lessons, but whatever. I can be easy going sometimes.

So...first lesson in the coffee room. There's a sign on the door that says the room is being used for lessons, and not to enter if the door is closed. Throughout Corina's half hour lesson, music teachers were constantly going in and out of the room. Corina's in there trying to learn new songs, and that kind of distraction is really not helpful. It was also very rude, because there was a sign. Obey the sign! Leave the poor little kid alone.

The next week before the lesson started, I asked the teacher to speak to the boss lady about having Corina moved into a proper room. There are lots of teenagers and adults who take lessons there and wouldn't be as distracted by people coming and going all the time.

During the lesson that week, people were constantly in and out of the room again. One girl even went in with a tv dinner and cooked it in there in the microwave! She's in there beeping away on the buttons...we could hear it from out in the hall/waiting room area. Ridiculous. THERE'S A NOTE ON THE DOOR!

Tonight was the third week in the coffee room. The boss lady was away, so the teacher hadn't had a chance to speak to her. First problem tonight was there were two guitar guys in the room when it was time for Corina's lesson. They didn't get out of there until 7:09! That stole 9 minutes out of Corina's short, 3o minute lesson that cost me $16. I'm so not okay with that. They weren't just sitting there, either. They were packing up, banging around and talking! During her lesson! In a tiny coffee room!

At 7:09 when those guys left, I pulled my chair in front of the coffee room door, blocking it. And then I started reading my book.

A few minutes went by, and then a young male teacher came along. He politely asked if I could move so he could go in the room. I promise I was actually really polite, but I smiled at him and said, "No...sorry." He looked awfully confused. I quickly explained the situation, apologized again, but made it clear I didn't want anyone else disturbing her. He seemed sort of okay with it and walked away.

A few minutes after that, the TV dinner teacher came along. She walked right up and wedged her leg behind my chair and asked me to move. Rudely. Like - "Ummm...can you move?"

I used my most polite voice, and I said, "No...sorry. My daughter is having her lesson. She'll be done in a few minutes".

She gave me the most awful look - as if I had just pooped on her, maybe. Or even in her. She said she only needed to go in for a minute, and continued wedging herself between me and the door. She had a Crystal Light package in her hand, so I imagine her urgent need to interrupt Corina's lesson DESPITE THE SIGN ON THE DOOR was because she really needed a low calorie drink. It was that important.

I repeated that Corina would be done in a few minutes.

So then the girl moved to the other side of me and wedged herself between me and the door again, but it's not like she could actually get past without pushing me on the floor. She was totally invading my personal space. I pretended she wasn't there and just read my book. Finally she blurted out, "WHAT...IS SHE HAVING A ONE HOUR LESSON OR SOMETHING???"

In my super polite voice, I again said, "Nope...she'll be out in a few minutes."

Maybe my calm voice was pissing her off more. I don't know. She stormed off, saying, "Now my student is waiting for me!" Like it's my fault she left someone waiting so she could have her stupid Crystal Light.

Then the young guy came back again, but he didn't pressure me to let him in. He just stood there kind of pouting. When Corina and her teacher came out, TV Dinner Crystal Light came stomping past us and stormed into the room. THANK GOD SHE STILL GOT TO HAVE HER CRYSTAL LIGHT!

Anyway, I made enemies tonight. But I suppose I'm going to be okay with that. I know it's inconvenient for them to not be able to use their coffee room, but I'm not the one who came up with the stupid plan to have lessons in there. And their boss put a damned sign on the door telling them to stay out. None of this is my fault, and I was as polite as I could possibly be.

This all goes along well with what I'm trying to teach my kids. One important thing I want them to understand is that people will treat them they way they let them. If you live your life as a doormat, you'll get treated like a doormat. That's just the way human beings are. I don't want M&C to be mean to people, but I want them to stand up for themselves. Corina has a right to an uninterrupted singing lesson, and I'm thinking she's probably going to get that now. I showed people how they have to treat me. (That would be with respect. Sheesh.)

Something I've always done with the kids since they could talk is make them order their own food in restaurants, or otherwise do the talking to grownups when they're capable and it's appropriate. I grew up so scared of talking to adults that one time as a teenager I cried my eyes out when my mom told me to order pizza. I had never done it before and I was terrified. She told me to do it or we weren't getting pizza. I chose not to get pizza. I was humiliated to be so lame about it, but I was too afraid to talk to a grownup. I was also too afraid to book a doctors appointment or anything like that. M&C aren't afraid. They can easily speak to grownups in those kinds of situations. Maybe ordering food isn't so important, but if you're too afraid to do that as a child or teenager, what chance is there that you'll be brave enough to speak up for yourself when it's really, truly important? Like when you have to call 911? Or tell someone to stop molesting you? Seriously. I know a girl who was so scared of talking to adults that she didn't say anything when a man she trusted started molesting her. I want my kids to be able to say, "Let go of my bum, and I'd like a Whopper Combo with root beer!"

So. Hopefully now we either get moved out of the coffee room because I'm such a pain in the ass, or at least people stop going in Corina's room because I'm such a pain in the ass. And hopefully this was a good lesson for my kids in speaking up for yourself. I think it was.

Finally, I want to say that it sucks that for the last three weeks I've left singing lessons with a knot in my stomach. This was supposed to be FUN!



Bethany said...

I think you should get a full refund for the interrupted lessons, and your price taken down if you have to stay in the blasted coffee room.

That is highly unprofessional.

Amy said...

Good for you Sara! Who cares if you've made enemies? You showed your daughter that she's #1, that despite being a child she has rights. You are an awesome Mommy!!

Jillian said...

Favorite line of the week thus far, "Let go of my bum, and I'd like a Whopper Combo with root beer!"

Kristi said...

You are my hero!! I was the same way as you: couldn't even order a pizza! And yeah, it did lead to other problems standing up for myself. It also shows your kids how inappropriate it is to storm off and throw a tantrum over the coffee room (or anything, really). How often do we adults sit around and sulk or huff? Let's grow up. I think this is one of my favorites of your posts.

Sara said...

I'm glad you guys don't think I'm crazy. I was so bothered about it, but I didn't know if I was overreacting. I really don't think I am though. I'm going to go in and speak to the boss lady about it. I'm going to tell her that my friend Bethany says I should get a refund.

KW said...

Do you get free coffee? I know you don't even drink coffee but you could take it anyways and then give it to the homeless (serves double duty because it can be used as new begging cup afterwards)Also, this gives you another chance to teach a lesson to M&C.
As I told you already, I would have loved to sit in that chair.
I would have done it even if I didn't know the kid having the lesson. I just like to support signs.

Laura said...

I love this. This says so much about you and makes me remember why I was scared into love with you :-P
A phrase often heard whilst I was growing up was "big people are talking", that damaged me quite a bit. It wasn't meant to but it did. I have trouble joining in conversations when people older than me are speaking because I still don't see myself as a 'big person'.
I love that you showed Corina how to stand up for herself and showed her that she deserves to be treated with respect even though she's not 30 years old.

Sara said...

No free coffee. No free Crystal Light, either. And hi! Good job in your very first comment!

Laura, I think I should make sure not to do the "big people are talking" thing. Good point.

Lesley said...

First of all, never mess with a lioness protecting her cub. Second of all, show some respect people. Who does that? Who totally ignores a sign and interrupts a lesson like that? I'd like to know what that teacher would have done if you had interrupted her lesson. What a rude you know what! I don't care if you're paying five dollars or five hundred--you paid for an uninterrupted half hour of time. That's what you should get! Good for you for sitting there and blocking her. I love how she kept trying and was totally shut down. I really hope you give the manager an earful and tell her how unimpressed you are!

And dude, did we grow up with the same mom or something? Because my mom totally did that with us and then when I "growed up" I had no idea how to handle myself to the point where I actually burst into tears when arguing with an adult!

vicky said...

I think it's awesome you spoke in you "polite voice" I know Jace loves doing that to people when they get all riled up about something silly.
Who puts a lesson in a coffee room anyway? yesh!

Shauna said...

Having been a music teacher, I'm shocked at this. SHOCKED. Absolutely not okay. Completely unprofessional and unacceptable in every possible way, to put your daughter in the *cough* coffee room. Hard to choke that out, even though I'm only typing. GOOD FOR YOU, for teaching your kids to stand up for themselves. And for standing up for them.

Jasmine said...

Good for you! I would have done the same thing, but probably a little less politely! They should re-imburse you for all or part of the lessons. I think that is unacceptable when you are paying good money for this and it is in a very unprofessional, disruptive environment. You go talk to that boss lady!

bequi said...

I vote if they don't refund *something*, then you take her somewhere else for lessons. You'll probably have to keep sitting in front of the door during her lessons, but next time maybe you could make it like a game for yourself. ;-)

I'm super proud of you! I was so scared to talk to grown-ups, the only time I even talked to my dad was to tell him, "Love you" at night.

Shannon said...

I think what you did was awesome and completely within reason. What I can't believe is that other teacher was trying to manhandle you like that. You should have laid the smack down on her.

Lesley said...

P.S. What happened this monday? Did you have to lay down the law again?

Sara said...

I didn't get a chance to go in last week and talk to the boss lady, but when we went for the lesson on Monday Corina was moved into a proper lesson room. refunds, but I'm okay with that. As long as the lessons stay in a proper room, we're good.

Daisy Paige said...

Wow, I'm amazed. There's no way I wouldn't have ripped my arm off and beaten the crystal light teacher with it.

Kudos to you!

kate said...

I wish you had pooped on her.

I'm imprssed that you held off for 2 weeks. I think I would have yelled at someone. I think we've beome opposite as adults, I was terrified as a kid, so I yell at adults all the time now. Seriously, try to run a stop sign within a block of me and my kids and I might kick your car (it happened once, ask Carter)

Something similar happened last year with Carter's private swimming lessons (they're safer, but WAY more expensive). They ran out of lanes so they were teaching him to swim in the toddler wading pool! I called the next morning and asked for a manager and had it changed.

I'm proud of you. I totally know that passive agressive "polite" voice too. very Mom...

Sara said...

I was thinking that Krista is the most like young Sara now. Maybe you're in second place. I might even be in 4th place now to be myself. I'm not sure how that happened.