Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cue the sad violin

The title of this post is probably too flippant. I really did have a sad, violin-related experience last night.

It was an evening of school concerts. Ben did not want to go, but Saskia was singing in the treble choir and I wanted/needed to be there. Lars was busy making a profit for Software Central and would not be home until 11, so Benjy had to come with me.

We got there relatively early because I knew it would be standing room only (welcome to affluent suburbia). And as I should have expected but for some ridiculous reason did not, Ben tensed up as the auditorium filled with chattering humanoids. I tried to distract him with the book I made him bring along, and that worked for oh, about three minutes. Then he stood up and announced, "I am claustrophobic here and am going out to the lobby."

Of course he was claustrophobic. He always has been. And this place was a sensory nightmare. But there was something else bothering him, I'm pretty sure. The middle school string orchestra was on the stage warming up, and I think it pained him that he was not with them.

Now, Ben is a talented violinist. He just picked up the violin one day and knew how to play. It was weird and wonderful. After a lost year of group lessons at school in third grade (group lessons are NOT going to work for Ben) he had a couple of years of private lessons and zipped through his books. But the pressure he felt to perform, to do well, crippled him. He simply couldn't handle it. Same with the fifth grade orchestra he joined at school: he went three times and then his anxiety became so extreme he had to quit. So, he couldn't practice at home because his teacher had told us he was a talented, natural violinist. It was too heavy. And he couldn't play in the orchestra because of his sensory issues and that same heavy pressure.

Now he is not playing at all, and I keep looking at the violin wedged between our couch and stereo cabinet and thinking. "Why am I renting this?" But something keeps me from turning it in, because WHAT IF he wants to go back to playing Bach's Air on the G-String and there's no violin for him to do it on?

Anyway, whether it was the noise, the crush of people, or the sense of having failed himself and me (I HOPE I have not made him feel that way!), he did not stay for the orchestra performance. He came back for Saskia's choir -- were they ever wonderful! -- then left again for the band.

I felt mostly okay about his need to be absent -- bad for him, that it was such an ordeal, but I understood.

What was unbearably hard was facing the fact that he has this incredible talent and is unable to develop it due to his mental health issues.  Watching those string players up there -- they were good! -- and knowing that Benjy will probably never be among them. Will probably never go to music camp, and may never pick up the violin again. This last thought breaks my heart -- but ultimately this is not about me. And if it's not a terrible loss to Ben then it has to be okay.

But what if it is a loss to him? That is a possibility I will have to live with, and it won't be easy.

No comments:

Post a Comment