It all started with the church solo when she was seven. Her little voice barely even quivered as she sang the sweet verses about wise men traveling across a continent to follow the star. There were at least one thousand people in the congregation that day, and I’ll never forget how tightly Ryan held on to my hand, his own nerves greater than his small daughter’s.
A year later, she landed the lead role of Cinderella in her school play. During the weeks of rehearsals, it soon became apparent that she blossomed in a dramatic environment; she came alive when she was allowed to be a “ham.” Performance was evidently her “thing.”
And this is interesting news for two parents who are much more comfortable behind the scenes themselves...who have little desire to have attention drawn to them in any way. Ryan, in particular, does not like to watch TV shows where awkward situations are plentiful…or competitions and live performances where someone’s lifelong dreams can be so easily dashed by a simple misstep. It’s all rooted in his compassionate heart that I love so much. But now that our daughter craves the limelight? Well, that makes it even more difficult for him.
So this year, Ryley auditioned for the school talent show with her piano piece, and she was the only fourth grader to make it into the show. She also prepared a monologue and tried out for the school play again, earning the part of Snow White (an angry, irritated Snow White who is tired of fairy tale characters knocking on her cottage door!). It’s been a fun spring.
The night before the talent show this week, I was giving Ryley some pointers about her piece…Make sure you adjust the piano bench where you want it…Don’t start out too slowly…Don’t rush… If you make a mistake, keep going…Remember all your dynamic signs…. Suddenly, I could tell she was getting overwhelmed. Tears started streaming down her face. I was overdoing it with my advice and needed to take a step back.
But she doesn’t know….She doesn’t know what it’s like to fail in front of all your friends, family, judges, etc. And I do. It sucks. And if there’s any way I can help prepare her for how to deal with failure, to somehow make it easier, I want to do that. But at what point is my “preparation” only serving her a big old helping of nerves, which to this point, she has somehow managed to elude?
I realized I had to trust her. I had to trust that no matter what happens, she will know what to do. She is a different person than I am. She definitely has more self-confidence than I did. And I have to let her live through that experience of failure herself…if/when it does ever happen to her. There are just some things you can’t do for your kids.
So on the drive to school the next day, I tried to redeem myself. I assured her that we are proud of her no matter what…that I have utmost confidence in her ability…and that there was no reason to be nervous because we (and Daddy especially) are nervous enough for her.
She smiled. “So it’s like I can drop off my nerves at the Good Will store, and Daddy can go by and pick them up?”
“Sure.” I’m still trying to wrap my head around that metaphor.
When I told Ryan about that later, he said, “I absolutely hope that happens. I would absolutely take it all if I knew she wouldn’t have to deal with any of it.”
There were two performances. The first, on Wednesday night, was for parents. We walked in to the auditorium to see her being made-up by some random make-up artist. It was a little much, but she felt pretty. :-)
And she did well. She made a few mistakes, but she kept moving, and she looked like she was actually having fun up there!
Plus, she curtsied and smiled graciously at the end.
But we weren’t done yet. Friday afternoon she was scheduled to perform in front of all the students.
“Do you want me to come watch?” I asked.
“No, I will be fine,” she assured me. And I wondered if my presence makes her nervous.
But on Friday morning, Ryan called me and said that he had figured out a way to move his schedule around so he could attend. And I love this…that my husband who hates “performance” more than anybody else in the world wanted to be there for his little girl…to take her nerves off her hands. He loves her so much that he was willing to sit through not only her performance, but the entire horror that is an elementary school talent show that he had already seen once and hated.
That’s love, folks. :-)
And she loved that he was there. When she saw him, she ran across the auditorium and gave him a big hug. I still don’t think she understands how painful it is for her daddy to watch her play. But she doesn’t have to.
Because she played beautifully.
Of course. :-)
(Thanks to my Uncle Paul for the beautiful photos of the Wednesday night show!)