One time, when my daughter was about 4, I left a can of bug spray by my violin. That was not smart. She pressed the button and covered the varnish with hundreds of little spray marks. I discovered it way too late to save the varnish. I chastised her for playing with bug spray and told her that she was really lucky it didn’t spray in her face. I was so glad that my mistake of leaving it within reach wasn’t worse, and I was also upset that my violin now had freckles.
At least 10 times I have heard a commotion happen while practicing and walked briskly out of the room to investigate and banged my violin on the side of the doorsill. I have several marks on the same side from doing this. Each mark is a reminder of a time that I wasn’t patient, wasn’t mindful, wasn’t present. I was rushing, forgetting what I was doing, and likely heading into a situation too hastily. Maybe once or twice I was worried that someone was hurt, but more often than not I was rushing out of the room to tell children to behave, break up an argument, etc.
My $30 Andrea Solo rosin has a giant chunk missing out of it because about ten minutes after I opened it, my daughter picked it up and dropped it. At the time I was so bummed and also irritated. I’ll probably have that rosin until she graduates high school.
Every time I see these things I’m reminded that life leaves imprints. Scars. Stretch marks. Gray hairs. Many of these things are accompanied by painful memories of me getting upset or annoyed. No one wants their violin to get DEET sprayed all over it. No one wants to think that it could have been her face instead of the violin. Banging the violin on the door was like the violin’s way of saying slow down! You don’t need to run. They will still be misbehaving if you walk slowly and mindfully, collect your thoughts before you respond. Chances are, everything will work out better if you do.
These scars remind me that my children are growing up, and there is a story or theme behind most of them. I think of how cute she was as a preschooler, and how sneaky. I’m reminded of how hard it has been to steal some alone time, when every few minutes I have to run out of the room to parent them. Those moments are waning as they get older. My violin will be marred by hundreds of these scars over the years, and hopefully as the years go by my patience and acceptance continues to grow. I’m better at taking the marks in stride, better at avoiding the marks by slowing down. They remind me to be thankful that this isn’t an expensive violin. To remember that it’s a box of wood, and the people in my life will always come first.
When people buy old violins they romanticize the history, and the scars (as long as the violin still looks nicely vintage then it has “character”). But, that’s not my history. This violin will remind me of our history. The good, the bad, and the bug spray.