"They have to believe in their ability to achieve."
This was a line from the book Lasting Gifts You Can Give Your Children which I read last week. It was authored by Arun Gogna.
Reading this part of the book made me smile because I know that I had been doing my best to help my children believe that they can achieve their dreams even when their dreams seem too big for their age. This is especially true with my eldest son who celebrated his 7th birthday last month with a solo piano concert and a recital as pianist in the Holy Mass.
Yes, you read it right. My son just turned seven years old and he already had his first solo piano concert.
He has been tinkering with our little keyboard since he was a baby. But it was when he was a few months away from his 5th birthday that he started taking our keyboard seriously. I would notice that whenever we would come home from daily Mass, he would play some songs on our keyboard/digital piano. He was trying to play the songs he heard in the Mass. He kept on doing this until he was be able to play the song right. He would simply watch the pianist in the church and listen to the songs. I also noticed that once he already knows how to sing a song, he can play it in the piano.
This went on until the man who serves as pianist in our parish church became a close friend of ours. He then started spending a few minutes after each Mass teaching my son how to play the songs in the Mass. He and my son became friends right away. He was impressed at how fast my son learns after a few demonstrations.
One day, my son declared that he wants to also serve as pianist in the Mass just like our friend, Tito Ed. I told him that I'm confident he can also serve as pianist in the church. But he needs to learn all the songs in the Mass first.
That moved and inspired him to achieve what I didn't expect. In a couple of months, he learned to play at least one version of the songs sang in the daily Masses we attend! He was 5 years old then. He was playing songs mostly oido or by ear.
He continued this practice until he was 6 years old. Then, friends advised us that he is ready for formal piano lessons. So, last summer, after his 6th birthday, we hired a piano teacher for him who comes to our house two to three times a week to teach him. Thus, he learned to read notes as well and to play the piano using both notes and chords.
His passion in playing the piano grew stronger with each passing day. He would play the piano many times a day. Sometimes, he would not stop practicing a song until he gets it perfectly. Then, he would ask me to take videos of him playing that song on the piano.
A few months ago, while I was already planning for his 7th birthday celebration, I asked him how he wants to celebrate his birthday. I asked him if he had a particular theme in mind. I had a clue of what he might want but I wanted to hear it from him.
"What theme would you like to have for your party this year?" I asked.
"Piano," he said.
I smiled. My guess was confirmed.
Then he added, "I want to have a piano concert on my birthday."
I felt my heart leap when I heard him say that. When I heard him rattle off details of what he wants for his birthday celebration, my blissful smile became a nervous smile.
He described how he wants his cake to look like. He said he wants tarpaulins in the venue too. He also enumerated the songs that he plans to play during his concert. It dawned on me that he was serious.
I took a leap of faith with him and I assured him that he will have his wish for his birthday celebration. On top of that, I asked him if he wants to have a Mass where he will be the pianist as part of his birthday celebration. Of course, I already know what his answer will be. But it gives me joy to see his face light up as he hears from me that I can make that possible for him.
The joy on his face and the excitement in his eyes were priceless! I was nervous deep inside but I tried my best to only show my excitement.
I want my eldest son to know that I believe in him and in his abilities because that's the truth. What made me nervous was the fact that he is only a child and being a child, he is not as consistent, disciplined and skilled as an adult yet. But instead of dwelling on the negative, I chose to help him move towards the fulfillment of his dreams. I chose to empower him and believe with him that though his dreams are quite big for his age, it's possible to achieve them.
I'm so glad I supported my son in pursuing his dreams! He did his best to prepare for his recital and concert. And by the grace of God, he did really well! He impressed all of us with his performance during his 7th birthday celebration, including the priest celebrant, the servants in the church and our guests.
His recital as pianist in the Mass where he played the piano beginning with the entrance song to the recessional, opened the door for him to play in the daily Masses in our parish and eventually in the Sunday Masses during the Children's Mass in the days that followed.
Last night, I got a message from the Liturgical Head of our Parish. He asked me if Yanthy can play the piano during the Anticipated Mass because the other pianists were not available. I asked my son first. His reply made me truly happy because he said yes without hesitation and without batting an eyelash. More importantly, he said yes with a big smile on his face and excitement in his eyes. I admired him more for his passion. He actually just got home from practicing with the children's choir. I was thinking that he might want to nspend some time playing with his brothers. But he happily seized another opportunity that was presented to him.
Looking back, I'm grateful that I have given him wings to soar, reach his dreams and to live it out.
I was exhausted in organizing and preparing for his 7th birthday celebration. It drained me both physically and emotionally. There were days when my eldest son simply wants to play with his other toys and would not take his piano practice seriously. It didn't help that those days were the days near his birthday celebration. It was stressful for me because I have made all the necesary preparations which included organizing a sacred ceremony, no less than the Holy Mass. I did my best to help him grasp how privileged he is to be allowed to serve in the Mass despite his age and lack of experience.
Thus, when everything went well and as I watch him play the piano in the Masses where he serves right now, I thank the Lord for helping me and my son get to this point. Right now, we're still on a high from all the good things and good breaks that are coming his way. There are challenges too like he still moves a lot and plays even during the Mass but my husband and I are hoping and praying that as he gets to serve in the Mass more often and with constant reminders from us, he'd be able to better control himself and his movements.
"Offer wings to your children" says the author of the book I just read. I just gave Yanthy wings and he looks wonderful using them in the service of the Church!
How are you offering wings to your children? How do you communicate to them that you believe in them? Feel free to share them in the comments.
P.S. Watch out for my post where I will detail how I prepared for my son's piano concert-themed birthday party.