This week, we're going back to a very specific time in our collective childhood.
Remember when you were little and your parents forced you to practice your piano, clarinet, flutophone or some other random musical instrument?
Yeah, I didn't like it, either.
And I thought I was long past that torture, er, phase of my life until two weeks ago.
You see, that's when Kyle started his viola lessons with his middle school orchestra instructors. Yes, I said middle school; we'll have that whole panicked conversation during the course of another column, but for now, let's stick to the viola trauma.
A little background for you: the powers-that-be at Kyle's middle school have implemented a new program whereby not only do students come in for music lessons two days per week for about a month of the summer, but also, their parents must accompany them.
That's right; I, too, have to go to the hour-long sessions twice weekly. I must learn and play alongside my son and, like he does, I have to practice at home during the week.
Kyle's doing great, while I, on the other hand, seem to be incapable of making a joyful noise.
I'll put it this way. The sounds emanating from my particular instrument cannot, on any continent, be classified as musical. In fact, the new performing arts center where the lessons take place is now completely air-conditioned since my viola playing has blown out every last window on the building.
The only thing worse than the shrieks I'm creating are the constant cries of "NO, MRS. KIMERER, NOT LIKE THAT! THAT'S INCORRECT, MRS. KIMERER! HERE, LET ME SHOW YOU, AGAIN, MRS. KIMERER " and other like indignities wafting through the air alongside my screechy, scratchy notes. Did I mention that the criticisms are coming from high-school sophomores who are earning extra credit to walk around the practices and laugh at pathetic parents such as yours truly?
I'm not even getting scolded by the teacher, but her underclassmen lackeys.
Viola schmiola. Hmpf.
Speaking of the viola - which, for the musically impaired is like a violin but not a violin - allow me to inform you that, even though all the other parents of children playing the viola were also given violas, I got a little something else. Just for giggles and guffaws, Mrs. Kimerer got - you guessed it - a violin ... the strings of which, btw, are completely different than those of a viola.
Oh, then there's the whole pronunciation issue. Or, as Sammy Super Sophomore so eloquently pointed out to me at the second practice, "Maybe it'd help if you actually said it right, to start with " I stifled the urge to tell the pompous 15-year-old that this entire debate would be moot to the "Fiddler on the Roof" - not to mention that he should never end a sentence with a preposition.
That was one sticky stifle, friends.
And my tongue bled for three weeks after I bit it so hard it nearly split in two following the next night's practice.
That's when that same annoying kid came up to me, flicked out my wrist and said, "Now, now, Mrs. Kimerer, you've got to keep that straight. Is that broken-wrist syndrome I see on your left hand?"
Luckily my deformed tongue prevented me from telling him that broken nose syndrome is a dangerous side effect to harassing talentless parents.
But you know what? The more I struggled and the better Kyle did, the more confidence he beamed.
"Honey, you're doing great," I smiled proudly.
"Thanks, Mom! And don't worry, I'll help you with your homework; it's easy!" he offered.
And, much as the thought of going home and whipping that baby back out onto my shoulder is going to put a humongous chip there - I must admit that having Kyle not despise practicing his viola - however you say it - is music to my ears.
Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist. Contact her at email@example.com.