Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Dance As If No One Is Watching

In the first year, her cumulative stage time couldn't have been more than five minutes, including the curtain call. We were very proud, happy that she had a chance to do something she so obviously enjoyed, and a little awed that she was so completely pleased and engaged in something that allowed her five minutes of stage glory. Mary was eight; participating in the school play in any way was amazing.

Last spring she jumped at the chance to audition once again. We encouraged her; she loved everything about being involved in the play, including time spent with a heavily weighted middle school cast.  But things changed; Mary, previously thrilled with her role as Extra Dwarf Number Three (in a updated version of Snow White), was cast as Mayor Lucy, a major role that demanded time, commitment, energy and a level of chutzpah that I knew she had but was overwhelmed to see on stage. She was amazing.

It's audition time again. Call backs happened this week, and this time not one, but two of our girls made the list. They spent the weekend practicing. Between bouts of pink eye they danced and sang their way from Friday to Sunday. Everyone in our building can now sing the first few lines of "Consider Yourself".  A chasse, which initially landed one on the ground, was perfected to a level of almost coordination. Twins, the formerly dueling duo, spent the entire weekend offering constructive criticism and genuinely supporting each other.

My Facebook wall is flooded with articles, posted by my parent friends, helping me to navigate the often tricky role of parent supporter/cheerleader/realist/coach. Like so many things, in the hyper sensitive world of perfection parenting, there are only so many things on the approved list of what to say to your children in the face of disappointment. Or the alternative, what to say to your children when your encouragement is required, but not so much that you are pushing them beyond the scope of mental and emotional stability, which will most certainly happen if you deviate at all from the above mentioned approved talking points. We all needed some practice this weekend.

But what I heard was two girls enjoying their time together, two children dancing and singing and cooperating. Two girls who were having fun. And that is what is on my approved list, "are you having fun?". The reality is that they are going to be turned down, they are going to be disappointed and they are going to have to learn to deal with those emotions. As much as I'd like to pretend that may never happen, my daughters are walking into a world where they will hear no more often than they will hear yes. My job, in addition to encouraging them, is to help soften the blow. And the truth is that I am in awe of these two children who are able to push past their comfort zone to do something that could most certainly end in defeat. To pass on the opportunity would clearly be much easier.

Thankfully I do really love to watch them dance. And do math, and sing, and sleep, and read, and bicker incessantly. That they can do all that, and handle rejection and acceptance with grace, is enough to make me proud.

But really, you should see them dance.

This post was inspired by The Matheny Manifesto by St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. In in Matheny shares his tough love philosophy for childrens' team sports which translates  to everyday life. Join From Left to Write on February 12th as we discuss The Matheny Manifesto . As a member of From Left to Write I was supplied a copy of this book for review purposes.


Thien-Kim aka Kim said...

What a great bonding experience for both of them!

Nellie said...

Most important question - "Are you having fun?" This is one of those times in life that we learn how to accept success - or loss - gracefully and with poise.


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