He was nervous walking into a new school where he didn't know anyone. His band teacher, Dr. L, had asked him to play along with another school. In fact, he was listed as a special guest on the program and Dr. L even had him stand up before the performance and introduced him to the audience, all to Andrew's surprise. But as the other students were warming up, Andrew sat there, nervous, with his saxophone in his lap, staring out into the audience; I knew his nerves were working overtime. He didn't warm up one bit.
I noticed Andrew fiddling with his sax and a few minutes later, he called me over. "A pin came out of my sax; it's messed up." I looked at it and sure enough, there was a pin coming out, keeping one note from coming out all the way, and another note from going in. We tried and tried to fix it, but we couldn't get it back in. "You're just going to have to make it work," I told him.
But, during the first song, Andrew realized he couldn't make it work. His sax was squeaking and he couldn't get on top of any notes. His face dropped. For the next 20 minutes, he had his sax in his lap, not even pretending to play along, and tried and tried to get the pin in. Poor kid. He didn't play even one song.
I began to get frustrated with him, thinking, Why doesn't he just pretend to play?! But, Bob gently reminded me that he was only 9 and had no idea what to do. After the performance, he began putting his sax away and glanced at me dejectedly. As we walked to the car after the show, he cried. Sobbed, actually. It was "the worst day of his life." I felt so sorry for him. He thought he had let Dr. L down. He was afraid it was going to happen at his upcoming concert on Thursday. He thought everyone noticed.
It was a parenting moment. And I don't think I'm always good at those "parenting moments". But this time, I had to be. I told him my sob story of falling up the stage during my piano recital when I was a kid. Bob told him how he was announced as "Roberta" in front of all the students and families when he was 9 and how everyone laughed at him as he walked up to the stage.
I don't often think that I have made Andrew's pain any easier. But this time, I know I did. Andrew came through it; we came through it together. And thank God I have Bob to go through this kind of stuff with. My heart ached because Andrew's ached. And my heart healed as his did. And the next morning, Andrew said, "I'll do better at my next concert; I know I will." Wow. What an amazing kid. I'm so lucky.