One Time, I Made My Daughter Cry...

6 years ago
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...and it was awesome.

SG's placement letter for ballet arrived early August(ish) bearing news that surprised me: She was promoted to Level 1... and she was eligible to audition for KCB's production of The Nutcracker.

Whoa boy.

She read the letter and for about six weeks, she talked about the upcoming audition on a daily basis. And for about six weeks, I tried to encourage her while reigning her in, just a little.

I did theatre through high school and college, and while performing is one of the most brilliant highs I've ever known, getting to the stage can be brutal. I will never forget my first rejection that had nothing to do with my ability: I wasn't "cute" enough. I was 19. The girl who got cast looked like Selena Gomez with giant boobs. I'm not ugly but I don't think anyone would describe me as "cute." You can't improve on cuteness.

Yeah, a decade later, it still stings a little (I nailed that audition, y'all).

I'm not naive enough to believe that just because my child is seven, she can't be disappointed and hurt. The Nutcracker isn't a little recital piece. It's not a school show. It's serious production and a Big Damn Deal, and I had serious reservations that my sweet SG would have a spot after eight ballet lessons -- six of which happened three months before her audition.

But she wanted to try and I wasn't going to stop her. I prepped her as best I could. Who knew musical theatre auditions could come in handy while parenting?: You mustn't be silly or distracted. They probably won't call you by your name, you'll get a number. Know your number. Listen for your number. They'll teach you part of the dance and you'll dance in a group, you may dance a few times. You may do the same thing over and over but you need to try your best each time. It's two hours. It's a long time but you need to pay attention even if it's not your turn.

What I didn't tell her: I think your chances of getting this are slim. There are girls that have been dancing since they were toddlers. It doesn't mean you're not good, it means you need more experience and you can try again next year if you want.

But she wanted it. And she was excited.

We got ready...

...and headed to the audition.

Two hours later, she burst out of the studio, threw her arms around my waist and, grinning from ear to ear announced, "That was fun!" "It was?" I asked. "Yes! I'm going to be an angel." She said it was total and utter confidence, complete assurance. "Maybe, sweetheart. They won't send the cast list out for a few weeks. We won't know for sure for a while. But you had fun and that's what matters." And we headed home to wait.

The parent meeting for the show was October 6. On October 4, I was getting our plans for the month together and it dawned on me that, probably, I wasn't going to need to factor in rehearsals. And then, at 10:33 am, this arrived in my inbox:

And, holy crap, she got it. She was an angel.

I called Mr. G. "I'm going to surprise her during lunch at school with flowers. Can you meet me?" He couldn't, but I promised to take pictures. I called her teacher to make sure it was okay to meet her at lunch with flowers. "DON'T SAY ANYTHING," I cautioned. I called my mom, "She got it. SHE. GOT. IT." "Take the email so she can see," Mom suggested. Oooh. Good idea. I printed everything. We ran to the store for hot pink roses (and a vanilla yogurt for X to busy himself with while I arranged flowers in the van).

By the time I got to the lunch room, she was already at her table. She saw me, camera in one hand, the email in the other, the bag over my shoulders held flowers and the rest of the info. She was confused, maybe even a little worried.

I knelt on the floor next to her, "Hey. I have something I think you should read," and I gave her the email.

She saw the words Nutcracker Casting, put her hand over her mouth, kicked her feet and gasped, "Ohmygosh. Ohmygosh. Ohmygosh," and she promptly started to cry.

"I got it?" she whimpered. "You better read the whole email, baby girl. See for yourself."

"I'm an angel, mom! I told you!"

"You called it sweetie," I said through a haze of tears. I expected excitement. The tears were an added bonus. I felt like a fairy godmother.

It. was. awesome.

I have no words for how excited and proud I am, but the best part in all of this? It's hers. She wanted to do ballet. She wanted to audition. She's happy to give up chunks of her weekends for the next two months to do this. It's hers. Her dad and I? We're just along for the ride, marveling at her excitement, reveling in her joy.

This is the fabulous part of the parenting gig. The little slivers of awesome that are so tremendous they make the tantrums, messes, and attitude worth it. I can't believe I got to make her cry happy tears and I'm so thrilled that I get to watch her do what she loves. Good stuff, guys. Good, happy stuff.

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