It had already been a long day when I realized my daughter hadn’t done her obligatory practise on the keyboard. Every day that we ask her to practise, she will find a wonderful reason why it is not the thing she should be doing at the moment. When she capitulates for the agonizing 10 minutes it takes her to play the required playlist, her sighs discharge every ounce of air from her lungs. As of late, my husband had been enforcing this routine because I arrive home late from work.
As newly classified farm owners, we are slowly learning the demands of the land. So when the requirement of fuel for our stove raised its demanding little head, the regular routine of piano playing was placed, for the lack of a better phrase, on the back burner.
I arrived home to find my husband still chopping logs in my headlights one evening in early October. All the preparation and supper routine still left; bookmarked by a new demand. After the general greeting, we divided our evening tasks. He would cook the meal, and I would have some quality time with my reluctant ten – going on sixteen year old. I corralled her up the ten steps to our improvised music room, pointing out her advantage: she had a piano and the lessons to learn this amazing instrument. She looked at me with one of her latently hostile ,” I know what you are doing,” looks and I sat awkwardly on the stairs waiting for the token ten minutes and the rush to escape.
At the keyboard, she collected herself- she knew the routine. The song, while on the page, sat comfortably inscribed in her memory. Her hands began to strike the keys. And I was transfixed.
It was not the song that she played- although she played that very well. It was that my girl; a child that I had helped to create, could do something I struggle with. Something I always dreamed of doing.
My childhood was difficult. The maelstrom of abuse took its toll. My parents, though loving, were struggling with addiction and mental health. Their chaos was my world. Normal was something I had to learn; I am still learning. Memory is something that I can’t trust. The past fades for me quite easily. For my young memories this was a balm, but in school and in my life now, it is a curse.
She picked up her hands and they found their place on the keys. My daughter created, and memorized music. It came so naturally to her; I felt tears well up in my eyes. This wonder was a part of me. She will choose her life; without fear and abuse. As best as I can provide, she will have the options that were unavailable for me. Perhaps one day she can teach me the notes to a song, and we can play together.