We looked up "cello rental" on Google and off we went.
The first store was old and musty. They had just one kid sized cello. Riley sat on a chair to try it and the woman was abrupt.
"Move forward." she barked. "No, put your butt on the edge of this seat."
Her directives (and her tone) were confusing. Riley was trying to obey the requests, but getting agitated.
I don't know anything about cellos, but the fit didn't look right. It seemed to me, Riley's hand should be able to glide her bow across the strings evenly, not in a contorted position. It was like her arm wasn't long enough to handle this cello. Perhaps she needed a smaller size. The lady poo-pooed me. I obviously didn't know anything about cellos (and besides she didn't have any smaller sizes).
For good measure, a man came out from the back room, possibly her son. He rolled his eyes at me and stated, "She's big enough for that cello."
I told them we would look around and possibly come back, at which point she warned me that I didn't want to go to "such and such" store, down the road, because they charge a deposit.
We immediately headed toward "such and such." Riley cried, "But Mom! They charge a deposit!" She had no idea what that meant, but knew it didn't sound good.
I explained that charging a deposit guards the store against people damaging their instruments, or stealing them, or not paying their rental fees. Deposits might just mean the store really cares about its instruments. I think of the cello we just saw and the smiley face sticker someone had slapped onto the back of it.
"Also," I said, "It is unprofessional to badmouth your competition. It says much more about the first store than it does about the second one."
We went in and the second place was clean. The instruments gleamed. The service was impeccable. The man at the counter concluded Riley needed a size right in the middle of two sizes, and found a German 1/4 size just for her, whatever that means. They cleaned it up, and delivered it to our house that evening.
They charged a refundable deposit, and six dollars more than the other store per month, which we're willing to pay. At any point, we can put what we've paid to rent it, toward purchase.
If there is one thing I've learned from having a child on the autism spectrum it's to go with my intuition. If it doesn't feel right do not proceed. I could not get out of that first store fast enough.
Her first group lesson was today.
She insisted on no help from her father as she walked into school today because after all she is not a baby. He watched her with her heavy backpack, carrying that rented cello (worth 2K, BTW) up the stairs and then she turned the corner and was gone.
Tonight we couldn't get much out of her about the lesson other than "it went well," and "we plucked."
I'll take it.