A few evenings ago FavoriteBoy and I sat on the couch and I poured out my thoughts to him. The topic: The Future. Now, The Future is not a topic that is always welcomed in our household, as thoughts of the unknown can bring on tremors, chills, and panic in either one of us; however, sometimes The Future must be faced and discussed. And so it was that I explained to Nathan how I felt that there are several roads open to me and I'm not entirely sure which one(s) to take.
Should I continue my part-time teaching job in the public schools next year, or should I focus entirely on private teaching? Should I pursue Suzuki teacher training, or use a different model of music education? Would the effectiveness of Suzuki training be largely limited to working with young students, and if so, is that really what I want? Would a master's degree enable me to teach high school or college violinists, and is that something I want? Working in the public schools can be frustrating - lack of parental involvement, kids who won't practice, low standards, low pay - but is it something I should be doing anyway? Am I making a difference in the lives of the kids I teach? And what should I do about the student who skipped class for eight weeks in a row, leaving me to assume she had quit, and then showed up last week? She stood alongside the other students who were playing Ode to Joy and Lightly Row, unable to hold her violin or bow correctly or even name the open strings of the instrument. Should I kick her out of class, or pity her - the girl whose Mom has no car, whose clothes are always dirty and hair is always unwashed, who seems to have a genuine interest in music but just doesn't have the family support structure to follow through on that enthusiasm with consistent practice - or any practice at all? Is working only as a private teacher too high-brow, essentially limiting myself to working with students whose families have money, time, and obvious investment in their children? Or could I be meant to do exactly that, and is that just as noble as working with less privileged students?
With a weighty sigh, I finished by asking Nathan, "What is my calling?"
FavoriteBoy gazed into my eyes lovingly and said, "To make cookies for me to eat! Don't worry, babe."
Cookies, you see, have nothing to do with the frightening unknown. They are chocolatey and warm and familiar and very much in the here and now, and FavoriteBoy loves them.