Skill U: 4.3

Journal of H. W. |

Week Four, Day Three – Sophomore Year

Editor’s Note: Honey’s journal entries are numbered according to week and day of the week. As she does not keep daily entries, gaps appear in the numbering. Please see the Table of Contents for the full listing of entries.


I really thought about what Mom said about Max–about taking care of the important stuff first and making sure that he felt loved. I know I’m just the au pair–an international student here for my year abroad–but I also know that I’ve got a lot to give, and that just being here now, to keep the fridge stocked with healthy meals, to keep the home clean and in good repair, and to be there when the kids get home from school, that makes a big difference.

And the difference is showing in Max’s behavior and attitude.


He hasn’t acted out in a long time. He reads by choice. He’s always got a joke to share. He’s actually fun to be around now!


Having Max in a good mood helps everybody feel better–especially his dad. He and his brother and sister are slowly improving their grades, too.


I’ve got plenty of time for my studies. While Max, Hugo, and Luna are at school, I have all day to focus on music. I was feeling a little stymied by my lack of improvement, especially on piano, while studying with my maestro, when I got a wonderful surprise.

My old dean called! She’s in Windenburg as a visiting professor for the semester, and she wanted to know how I was doing.

“I just feel stuck,” I told her. “It’s like I’m not getting any better.”


“I’ve got a little extra time,” she replied. “Would you like me to stop by?”

My maestro was over at the time. I’d asked him a question about Haydn’s influence on Beethoven’s third piano sonata, he said he’d need to do some research, and I hadn’t seen him since. I think he may have been using the excuse to check his email.


“Sure!” I told Dr. Dean. “Come on over!”

I felt so excited to see her walking up the front steps.


We went right to work.

“This is terrible!” she said, as soon as she heard me play. “What have they been teaching you?”


“Your phrasing is all off,” she continued. “Try connecting the phrases in that passage.”


We worked for a few hours. Soon, M. Villareal woke up and came down to listen.


I’ve gotten used to his casual attitude towards clothing, but Dr. Dean seemed amused.

“That’s much better,” she said, as I focused on building towards the start of each new phrase.

Soon, she was tapping her feet and humming the overtones, and M. Villareal was dancing.


We worked until the kids came home from school. Max burst into the front parlor.

“I got an A on a test!” he yelled.

What a relief! We’d studied so hard, and this A will raise his overall grade to a C.

I remembered what my mom had told me.

“How would you like to celebrate?” I asked him.

“Let’s have a party!” he said.

We invited a houseload of people over for a spaghetti supper. Max was happy, friendly, and funny the entire evening.


After the guests left, while Luna was telling me about a boy in one of her classes, Max, all of his own accord, did the dishes.


I never wanted–or expected–perfect behavior from Max. I mean, he’s a little boy with a mischievous streak! He’s bound to let loose a little bit now and then. But what I did want was for him, his brother, and his sister to be happy, healthy, and doing well in school. And it seems like we’re on our way.

As for me, I’ve got my old music mentor back.

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