When my niece was younger I had the “pleasure” of sitting through a 6 hour dance recital. It was dreadful and I vowed to never do it again. As my girls got older, I silently prayed that they wouldn’t be interested in dance. Unfortunately, my prayers weren’t answered. As a matter of fact, this week alone, I’ve sat through one dance show and have another coming up.
Whenever one of my kids performs, I’m more anxious than they are. I’m not backstage coaching, so I sit in my seat and cross fingers, toes, and eyes, in hopes that they don’t embarrass themselves.
Before they hit the stage, we talk. I want to be sure they’re level-headed and confident. A few nights before her 2nd grade show, Marley confessed that she felt sad that a few of her friends got selected to do a special dance. Through her tears, she sang “What a feeling? Means believing” and all I could think was “damn, my kid doesn’t get to perform to Flashdance. I freaking love that song.” I kept my thoughts to myself and decided that this would be a teaching moment. So I told my kid to stop hatin’. Well, I didn’t start there.
Marley: Mom, it’s not fair that my friends get to dance to Flashdance and I don’t.
Me: Unfortunately, life isn’t always fair but it’s ok that you’re not in the special dance.
Marley: It’s not ok. I wish I was chosen.
Me: Are all of the girls in the your class a part of the special dance?
Me: Ok then. If it was every girl except for you then we’d have a problem, but you weren’t singled out.
Marley: I know, but I still wanted to be in that dance.
Me: Marley, your in 3 dances. Yes, they’re with the ensemble but you get to perform. Even though it’s not what you were hoping for, you need to get out there and do the best you can. Be the best dancer and singer out of the entire group. Don’t get up there and do a half booey job. Be the confident dancer that I know you are.
(Side note: since their 6 and 8, I can’t say half-assed, so I made up half booey when I want them know that I don’t think they’re giving 100%)
Marley: Ok Mom. I’ll try.
Me: Don’t try! Do. Make YOURSELF proud and stop hatin’. Love you.
The last thing I wanted was to put more pressure on her, so I didn’t bring it up again.
Her sister on the other hand, had no sympathy.
The night before the show:
Maya: Dad, I’m seeing Marley’s dress rehearsal tomorrow. She better do good.
Frank: I’m sure she will, but what’s the big deal?
Maya: Well, people know she’s my sister and will think I dance like her if she does a bad job.
Frank: (rolls eyes) You don’t have anything to worry about, she’ll do great.
After the dress rehearsal:
Frank: How’d she do?
Maya: Ehhh…she could have had a little more energy but she was ok. I wasn’t too embarrassed.
Before the show, Frank and I gave Marley a pep talk and sent her on her way. At that point, it was out of our hands. The choice was hers. Either she was going to get on stage and feel sorry for herself or she’d give it her all. I was on the edge of my seat. I truly didn’t know which way she’d go. I had hope, since I know who I’m raising her to be, but I also had my doubts. Well,…I should be ashamed of myself because my baby rocked it. She was amazing!!! She was energetic, her movements were sharp, her facial expressions were on point and even in the 2nd row she commanded that stage. I was overjoyed.
I’m raising my girls to be bold and courageous no matter where they fall on the roster. In addition, jealousy shouldn’t be a part of their vocabulary. They should always happy if their friends thrive. As we left the school, I watched Marley give hugs to ALL of her girls (even the Flashdancers) and congratulate them on a job well done. She wore a smile from ear to ear, so happy with herself. I couldn’t have been prouder.