Younger Daughter is playing the violin in her high school orchestra. She's new to the instrument and is struggling a bit. Tonight after dinner I heard her playing. I went in and listened to her, and pointed out some areas she needed to work on. Then I got my viola out and played along for a while. She seemed very pleased. It was fun. My Beloved Wife watched us, her eyes bright and happy.
Later Beloved thanked me. I told her that I was getting an emotional hit from it. When Oldest Son was in Middle School he really wanted to play the viola in the school orchestra. Just like I had. Unfortunately, the social complexities of zero-hour orchestra were too much for him. He wasn't able to focus and was acting out.
He was so sad. He wanted me to teach him so he could play in the orchestra. I said I couldn't do that--I couldn't teach him to be in the orchestra all by myself.
I remember feeling horrible. He wanted so much to be like me (which was unusual, a rare treat for me), and I couldn't figure out how to give him the support that he needed. That sadness and pain and sense of failure, of letting my child down, came flooding back into me. And I felt guilty for supporting Younger where I hadn't been able to support Oldest.
Beloved pointed out to me that the situation is different. Younger doesn't need as much from support as Oldest did. What she needs is within my capability to give. And that I was supporting one of the children in my household and making her happy.
Which is all true. I am happy to be able to help Younger. And I still feel sad about Oldest.