Last Friday. Me in my daughter’s school gym. Ready to bust into a million scattered pieces all over the room from nervous energy.
My little girl was going to sing in the school talent show. By herself.
She’d worked on the song “Make it Shine” by Victoria Justice for weeks. I knew she was ready. Initially, I’d helped her prepare. We broke her performance down into steps: Learn the lyrics. Figure out the music cues when each verse starts. Lose the lyric sheet. Pretend to hold the microphone. Think about how you want to move your body.
But all of that was handled pretty quickly. Then my job was just to remind her to practice, which she did without complaint (!) several nights each week.
She was like a duck in water.
The kid nailed her performance. By the time she was done I was crying. I wasn’t making a big, sobbing spectacle of myself, but there were some tears in the corners of my eyes.
I was so proud. And also a bit … ashamed.
I almost sold her short.
As I mentioned before, I was uncertain about Megan wanting to be in the talent show. In fact, I was hoping that she’d forget about it. Like last year.
Then I wanted her to do something nice and safe. I asked her to play a song on the piano. If she was up on stage, tethered to the big, safe piano, she would be safe too, I thought. Even if she flubbed a few notes, how bad could it be with that giant piano to hide behind? Or maybe she could make up a dance with her friends so she wouldn’t be up there all alone?
No, she said. No.
It would be just her. Alone. My kid. On stage. No props. Nothing to hide behind. What if she lost her nerve and couldn’t do it? What if she totally fell apart and could barely squeak out the song? What would I do if she was up there, alone and terrified, and I couldn’t run up, swoop her off the stage and save her?
She wasn’t interesting in doing anything safe.
She knew what she wanted to do. She wanted to own that show. I saw it in her eyes.
And did she ever.
When she was performing, that time was hers. She wasn’t tenative. She wasn’t timid. She was there to put on a show. To perform. She didn’t see the point in just participating.
She wanted something bigger.
That kid sure showed me.
I told myself to REMEMBER THIS.
Remember that my kids have to take their own risks sometimes. I have to let them sometimes.
Remember that my kids have strengths and talents that are different from mine. I have to let them explore them.
Remember that even when my kids want to do something that terrifies me, I have to have faith that they can handle themselves.
I wanted her to participate, but my conditions would’ve clipped her wings. I low-balled her.
I wanted her to be safe.
She wanted to shine.
Shine she did.
Shine on, darling daughter. Shine on.