A Bonus DMK Production
Your thirteen year old son, Nate, is a gifted student. He does well in all of his classes and seems to be able to just "soak up" what he needs to learn. Admittedly, he can be a bit arrogant about his academic abilities. Nate shows lots of maturity in some areas but, as with any boy his age, he also can be very immature about some things. Nate is also very strong willed and has an independent spirit.
At the end of the last school year Nate approached you and said he wanted to join the school band and play trumpet. He had never played an instrument before and only had basic music reading skills. You researched the issue and found he should be able to learn the instrument despite his lack of experience. You purchased a trumpet and enrolled him in a private trumpet class over the summer. He enjoyed the class and the instructor reported he was making good progress. He would practice regularly. Although his practice sessions still resemble the sounds of a dying farm animal you have noted that the animal is dying with less pain as of late. School resumes and Nate eagerly enrolls in the band. You maintain the private lessons as well.
Last night Nate was obviously bothered and was having problems sleeping. At first you just thought he might not be sleepy but when he started crying you and your spouse had a deeper discussion with him. Nate announced that he hated band and wanted to quit. He asked if he could just keep his private lesson but leave band. Originally he would just say he absolutely hated it and begged to quit. After some pushing he revealed that that day the teacher had "embarrassed" him and made other kids laugh at him. This seemed unusual. Nate kept saying band was horrible and he hated it and wanted to quit. You were concerned for the obvious reasons but it is already almost two weeks into the school term and a replacement class would be difficult. You made no promises except to have a meeting with the teacher and the guidance counselor and look in to the issue. Nate had a hard time going to sleep and remained tearful and upset for a while.
Today you were able to get a conference with the band teacher and the counselor. Nate also attended. Nate stated his case and said he wanted to quit band.
This is a beginning class. There are many students with some musical experience but there are also plenty of beginners.
You found out, as you suspected, that Nate was not purposefully embarrassed or humiliated by the teacher. The teacher called an error to Nate's attention and suggested he needed to practice more. Nate does not like to be wrong. It is possible this caused a couple of other students to snicker. (Some kids do like it when the geeky kid is wrong.) The teacher said Nate is capable and able and shows promise. However, you are told he does not participate well in class and seems unmotivated. The teacher said Nate even told him last week that he did not need to do an assignment because he was taking private lessons. You are further told that it seems Nate is not practicing and you are asked about his practice times at home. You had to admit that you have been hearing less of the dying animal as of late. Nate finally admits to not practicing as he should. Nate also says he just does not like the class and so "maybe he hasn't been doing his best." The teacher encourages him and you. The teacher feels Nate will get better - if he commits to practice and doing the assignments. You are again told he shows promise and potential and are reminded he is a beginner. Nate says he likes playing the trumpet he just doesn't like having to do it in class. You surmise that the issue may be that Nate has finally run into something at school that proves to be a challenge and work for him and so he is balking at it.
The guidance counselor also recommends keeping Nate in band. In beginning music classes, grades are not given out until after the second grading period and so no harm has been done to his academic record. The counselor also says it will be difficult to put Nate into a class almost two weeks into the term. She will make the change if desired saying she is sure Nate can catch up but the only class available to him at the same period is a introduction to business / basic accounting class. You all decide that Nate should just stick with the band for at least a semester. This will give him a true feel for the class and there will be better offerings for alternative classes at semester end. Nate is told he needs to practice and do the assignments. The teacher even says he is willing to help before or after school or during free periods if needed. The teacher seems to genuinely care.
Nate is obviously not happy.
After the meeting he says to you, "You can make me stay in band but you can't make me like it or do the work." He then gives you a defiant look. You gather your senses and resist the urge to kill him on the spot. You tell him firmly that he needs to think about what he just said. You further tell him you expect he treat band as any other class and do his best and that he will have a set daily practice time. If, after he truly tries, he still does not like band then he may change at semester end. Nate just mumbles that he hates band and then plays the "you don't care" card with you. He still has a defiant look. You tell Nate to go on to class and that there will be a serious discussion when he gets home.
What happens in the serious discussion?