This blog is not intended to provide legal advice, legal services or legal anything else. Don't sue me. All I have is debt anyway.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Different Expectations

So, with some helpful advice from readers here, and also reading a few music education sites, I decided to take a completely different tactic with violin practice -- Cora's doing it on her own.

Well, most of it.  There are still some things I have to help with from the practice sheet.  But if she's working on polishing pieces or reviewing pieces, our new policy is she's going to her room to practice, with the door closed.  And so far, it's gone pretty well.  The other day she was struggling to remember the notes for the second line of "May Song," and she stopped, sang the notes to help her remember, then played it through.  Big difference in attitude and work ethic.

Maybe that's what it comes down to, is you just don't want your parents correcting you/helping you/telling you what to do.  She's very independent.  Husband told her this morning while she was getting ready for school that she needed to brush her teeth and brush her hair.  She rolled her eyes at him and said, "Yeah.  I know.  I do it *every* morning, don't I?"  Husband didn't find that very amusing, but I did.  Sassy.  What I didn't find amusing was the crying over not being able to find her coat.  (Her coat being in the exact same place it is every morning, in the living room.  Geez.)

Bribery helps too.  I told her if she works hard and does her very best to prepare for string festival, I'll get her this doll she's been wanting.  I know, hard work is its own reward.  Meh.  Prizes.  She's also excited about the possibility of a trophy in the future, but doesn't quite understand how long it will take to get it.  (They can earn a small trophy after 3 years, and a ginormous trophy after 12 years.)

As for me, I'm just excited that this semester's community orchestra music is easy enough for me to play in its entirety (with some practice, of course).  We're doing Dubois's Seven Last Words of Christ, with a choir.  It's slow and pretty, no insanely fast triplets for my poor little fingers to trip over.  Hey, I might be trying to teach my kid to work hard, but I remain steadfastly lazy and adverse to challenges.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Expectations (cont'd)

I can never figure out if my expectations for my kids are too high or not high enough. 

In particular, I'm thinking maybe I'm being too "tiger mom" with my kid and the violin.  On the other hand, I don't expect perfection, (hell, that would be pretty hypocritical of me considering how awesomely I suck) I just expect her to work hard.  *Try* it before you start crying that you can't do it.  Sigh.  I instituted a new rule that hasn't worked *at all*: No crying during violin!  If she starts crying when she's playing violin, she has to put her violin away and just go to bed, so that she doesn't get to watch a TV show.  This meant going to bed at 7:30 twice in the past two weeks, including last night.  Obviously that didn't work, spectacularly. 

And this isn't every practice, most practices she works hard and is just awesome, but it is about once a week there's a bad practice.  Like, epic.  Maybe, it's just the age and I'm expecting too much maturity.  But I just can't get the message through to her that she isn't *supposed* to already know how to do it perfectly, so when I stop her and say, no, that wasn't right, you need to try it again, it becomes this huge deal.  We've come a long way with it, and in many ways it is so much easier than it was.  She never refuses to practice.  She likes to practice, loves to play her violin.  She doesn't even whine or cry because she has to practice.  She has even started to get the violin out herself to practice, instead of being prompted by me.  It's during the practice when we're working on a skill and it becomes "hard," that instead of working at it, she cries.

She's prepping two pieces for String Festival in March, and I want her to do her best.  *Her* best, not *perfect.*  But she has work to do.  When she plays the piece and she misses notes, I need to tell her that.  We need to go back and work on those measures.  I'd be doing her a huge disservice if I just clapped and said "good job," and didn't make her work at it, because then she wouldn't get better.  (It's like the teacher who reads a paper you wrote, and hands it back to you with "good job" at the top.  Well, that's not helpful.) But I also don't want to make her hate the instrument and feel bad about herself.  Maybe I need to be more the hugs-n-kisses squishy mom that is empathetic because kids need to express their feelings and cry, but I don't want to stop the practice and let her cry and have a cookie.  I don't want to send the message it's okay to just cry about your mistakes instead of continuing to work hard.  I tell her I understand she's frustrated, but that she needs to control her feelings, she needs to take a breath and focus and work through it, that when she's crying, she isn't working hard.  And she's very proud of herself when she knows she's worked hard and she *didn't* cry, even when she was on the brink of it.  She even brags about it to others: I worked really hard at my violin today, and I didn't even cry!  I just don't know how to get the percentages up, because at least 20% of practices result in waterworks instead of work.

What it comes down to, is I just don't want her to be *that kid.* *I* was that kid. I was the kid who cried every damn day at school. You couldn't correct me, it hurt my feelings. Everything hurt my feelings. I took everything personally, particularly things that didn't matter. I don't want her to be like that. It's miserable to be like that (and I probably overcompensate by being a cold, heartless bitch, but it's better than letting every single criticism, constructive or not, wreck you). Maybe I'm concerned for nothing; she's certainly much tougher than I was, she isn't anywhere near as sensitive, fortunately.  I just don't want her to start crying during math class because she gets the answer wrong, instead of paying attention to the teacher so she learns how to do the problem right.  How do you explain to a 5 year old that it doesn't matter if you get it wrong, that you're *supposed* to get it wrong, that's how you learn to get it *right*? That if she could already do everything perfectly, she wouldn't need a teacher or school or even practice? What matters is the effort you put in along the way, not some perfect end product? 

I don't know.  Maybe next time she starts crying during violin, we'll both just go eat a cookie and listen to Itzhak Perlman doin' it right.

(As an aside, I think even that kid played that piece better than I do.  Just sayin'.)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Lowering expectations

I've been thinking a lot about the subject of expectations lately.

I think it's time to have realistic expectations about my career. I need to stop looking at it as something that was supposed to be this amazing, rewarding, magical thing, and look at it for what it really is -- when you boil it down, it's a service one does for compensation. I take pride in it, do my best at it, and find personal value in it, but at the end of the day, I'm much more than any one thing and certainly more than my job.

There was a casual conversation I had with an older female attorney a few weeks back.  I don't recall most of the conversation, but I'd mentioned that I have friends who work at either very demanding midsize firms and in Big Law, who are very dissatisfied with their situations because they're working themselves to death.  Her response was pretty much that our generation doesn't think they should have to work hard, that working all those hours is just "what you do," and that's that.  (This from someone who left Big Law to raise kids.)  Ugh.  And this isn't just a "having kids issue"; one of my friends working themselves ragged is a single male. 

Maybe it is a generational difference, and doing nothing but working was what the past generation just did without question.  But to hell with that.  Life's too short to spend every waking moment working, and while I definitely don't get paid enough to do so, I wouldn't want the pay to do so either.  If I'm working all the time, what am I going to spend it on?  Designer clothes to wear to work 16 hours a day?  A luxury car to drive to and from work?  Really awesome vacations that I could take, but won't, because I can never get enough time off?  An enormous house that I never get to spend time in because I'm at work 16 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week?  Also, it'd be one thing to work that much and be paid big bucks, it's another entirely to work that much and not make big bucks.  Like my old firm that paid its younger associates in the 40s, and then upped the billable hour requirement to 2000 (and that's the hours the insurance companies actually paid... they would often cut down the bills we'd submit... uh, if my ass was in that deposition for 5 hours, by the gods, you'd better be paying that 5 hours).  Hell no. 

So, I work my 40 hours at my [sometimes rather dull nonprofit job], and then I go home.  Granted, I also have an ethical duty to my clients, so there are times when I've had to work more to get stuff done, but that's exception not the rule.  But it feels really good to be converting my desk at home to something not work-related.  Tonight after the kids go to bed, I'm going to watch more Game of Thrones, and work on Cora's tulle skirts and "mouse ears" for ballet class (they're doing excerpts from "Nutcracker").  Tomorrow night, I'm going to the "law ladies" mixer, and then to orchestra rehearsal.  I expect to fill my life with things I enjoy. 

The expectations we have for others is also a topic of conversation.  Husband seems to be losing touch with the fact that he was (and still is) a completely apathetic student, whose give-a-shit meter has always been on empty.  So, he is often appalled by his own students' complete lack of effort.  Dude, I just expect my students to show up and do the work I give them.  I assign some reading, and tell them to "skim" it, because I know they aren't going to actually read it.  He's only doing the doctorate because he wants to teach graduate students.  Somehow, he thinks they'll care more/be smarter.  He seems to forget that his current classmates are his graduate students.  And his current undergraduate students (seniors) are his next year's graduate students.  As a professor, you can expect your students to show up.  You can expect them to complete assignments.  You can expect them to take exams.  You should not expect them to 1. Pay attention; 2. Enthusiastically participate (even in law school... you can keep Socratizing me, but you can't make me actually know anything about the material); or 3. Give two shits.  Yes, they (or someone else) paid for them to be there.  Yes, they need to pass your class to graduate.  No, that does not mean they are excited to be there.  Do not expect enthusiasm.  And if any of your students *are* enthusiastic, you will probably hate those students the most.  Good times.  Reminds me why I probably shouldn't be thinking about getting a doctorate myself, perusing the Public Health course list.  My give-a-shit meter is definitely on empty!  (Haha, Biostatistics, geez.)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

MILP Roundup #284

The Weekly MILP (Moms In the Legal Profession) Roundup is hosted on a rotating basis at the Butterflyfish, Ptlawmom, Attorney Work Product, Attorney at Large, Today & Tomorrow, Magic Cookie, and Reluctant Grownup blogs and is usually posted no later than Monday…

Happy New Year!

PT-Lawmom gets some bad timing.

Frenchie and LL have Christmas recaps.

CM has a day off for the holidays.

Butterflyfish has an 8.5 month old Lionfish.

Izzie rings in the new year without pomp and circumstance. 

LC has vomit.

RG has resolutions, and ButIDoHaveaLawDegree has a mission statement.

Grace and Attorney at Large have a 2012 recap, and thoughts of the future.

If you would like to have your blog added to the MILP blogroll for weekly review or would like them to consider a specific post, drop the hostess(es) an email or leave a comment at their respective sites.