Key to accepting a difficult reality? Let go of judgments

Z is recording Bach. Fifteen minutes earlier he lost his music which is normal for him. When he was six years old his teacher could change a bowing pattern right before a performance and he’d remember just fine. Now, at 16, he can’t remember a bowing pattern even if he checks it right before he records. He knows that it’s because of his brain injury, and he tries to be patient with himself. But losing the music is more difficult.

He gets angry at himself for how often he loses things. I tell him people with traumatic brain injuries who get frustrated with their brain adapt more slowly. Still, he needs a throwaway take for the anger he has at himself. I used to be a good cello mom: hovering, micromanaging, coyly intrusive. Today I tell him to tuck in his shirt but I find myself backing away as he gets ready to play so my doubts don’t infect his best efforts.

One of us has to back away first.

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