This Saturday, Will is going to perform a group piano piece, with ten pairs of kids playing the same song. There are also going to be a lot of other performances at the recital, which we will sit through as we always do. Sigh. At least some of them will be good.
In this case, the annoying thing is that Will was supposed to practice with his duet partner. Apparently his parents could never make our 4 pm practice time, so three weeks ago we were supposed to show up at their 6:30 practice time and adjusted our plans accordingly. Then they cancelled at the last minute. At least we got a phone call from the instructor. Two weeks ago the piano teacher was out of town, so no lessons. This week we showed up at their time again, only to wait around and have them not show again. Turns out their kid was sick, but he got sick on Monday and the mom only thought to call and cancel the piano appointment late on Tuesday afternoon, and the piano teacher has lessons booked for several hours and didn’t get the message until after we had been there for 20 minutes! (Certainly the piano teacher dropped the ball there a bit as well.)
Fine. There was some talk of trying to squeeze in one practice together in the remaining days of this week. I had my doubts. Wednesday and Thursday go by. Then the mom calls us late last night and wants to set up a practice for 4:30 Friday.
Now, my wife was irritated because of the less than 24 hours notice and the fact that these people were asking us to accommodate them for a third time. So she said no, even though we could have juggled things and made it (our son has been singing in the choir of a school play for the past two days and could use a rest, admittedly).
I simply didn’t want to have Will sitting next to a kid who had just been sick enough to miss school for several days, because Friday is the last day of school before they get the whole week off for Thanksgiving vacation. If that kid had coughed on Will and gotten him sick for next week I think I would have strangled somebody. So we said no and they acted disappointed. Lisa said she was going to ask the piano teacher never to assign this kid as a duet partner for Will again.
At least they will get a chance to practice together Saturday morning at the show rehearsal (the performance is Saturday night). But we have no idea if this kid is prepared at all or not. I’ve tried to put Will in a good frame of mind and I think he’s doing okay and he still seems to be looking forward to the show.
Frankly, if the other kid can’t play the piece adequately, then I still think Will should get a chance to go up there and play; there will be nine other kids playing the part missing from his particular duet (remember it’s a big group number). Probably what will happen is the kid will get to go up there whether he’s ready or not. At least Will has the bigger part to play in the duet and starts first, so hopefully he can get into a good flow.
As the cherry on top, Will just this morning remembers to tell me that the families of duet partners are supposed to sit together at the recital. Something about being able to get up and get on stage and take their places in the quickest way. Now, we have never interacted with these people before in any other capacity, but I’m really not excited about sitting next to them for an hour or more after they dropped the ball and tried to make excuses (they seem to have forgotten that they missed the first scheduled duet practice and that we always had to go to their time).
The thing you do in these situations is apologize for not holding up your end, not say lame shit like “I’m sorry this didn’t work out, we couldn’t help that our son got sick.” Sure, if by “this didn’t work out” you mean “we didn’t show up TWICE and couldn’t be bothered either time to tell people more than a couple hours in advance that we wouldn’t show up” and “oh by the way, sorry we never offered to make up for this by offering to come to your scheduled practice time or call you directly even though we had your number.”
I mean, I’m sorry it didn’t work out either, by which I mean, “Sorry I rearranged our dinner plans twice and drove to a piano rehearsal just to sit around on nights you didn’t show up and my son had homework to do and that somehow you thought calling at the last minute to set up a piano practice with your sick kid the night before the show was a fair solution.”
I’m sure they don’t see themselves as the problem and they may well be nice people, but when you (a) over-schedule yourself, (b) don’t plan ahead, (c) don’t show up when you ask other people to meet YOUR schedule, and (d) don’t keep other people informed, then the buck stops with you. You are the weakest link. Doesn’t mean it’s always going to be that way, or that you meant to do it, but you have to prove your reliability after a display like this, you don’t get to expect others to assume that you are reliable unless they have a big track record of you showing up.
Well, that was a bit cathartic. Like I said, my hope is simply that these folks don’t try to talk to us much at all. Smile and nod. Because if we get into any kind of discussion where they start offering excuses and fishing for a “we understand and don’t blame you at all” response, they aren’t getting it from me. Likewise, as long as Will gets to play and has a good time, I don’t feel the need to chastise them either. I hope their kid plays great. It’s just that I trust people up to a point, and if they lose that trust they have to earn it back somehow. And I feel our society as a whole likes to avoid holding people accountable for anything.
So my lovely wife and I could use your best wishes for a great show and as little interaction as possible with these folks. We get through Saturday and hopefully everyone gets a chance to take a deep breath!