Friday, April 27, 2012

Wife, Mother, Dream Crusher

On the way home from soccer practice last night (approximately 7:33pm), my daughter asks me if I remembered that tomorrow is the try-outs for the school Talent Show.

I closed my eyes and said a silent prayer.

I told her that I had not remembered.  She reminded me that she had showed me the flyer last week and that she wanted to try out with a song or a dance.

"OK.  Which do you want to do?"

"A song.  I want to sing Firework. Or Tick-Tock.  But I like Firework."

"Do you know all the words?"


"Do you have the music to sing to?"

"Um... no.  Maybe I'll do a dance."

"Do you know all the steps to a dance & do you have music to go with it?"

She starts to get exasperated with me.

"No.  I want to sing."

"OK, you want to sing.  Have you been rehearsing?  Do you feel like you know it?"

"Yeah.  Sort of. I think I need to sing it a couple of times."

Enter The Dream Crusher.

"Sort of.  Well, let me give you my opinion.  I think it's great you want to try out for the Talent Show.  You have lots of talent.  But I'm not sure this is the best way to show off your talent.  If you aren't sure about the words, don't have the music, and don't know a dance all the way through, do you really feel good about trying out?  Thinking about this the night before tryouts, when we still have showers and homework and bedtime in a hour doesn't give you much time to practice.  Maybe you should watch the Talent Show this year & see what some of the other kids do.  Then next year we can start preparing early so you are all ready to go."

"No I really want to tryout. I really want to do this.  I told you about it and I really want to do it.  ______ and _____ are trying out and I want to do it too."

"Okay, then what do we need to do to get you ready?"

"Ummmmm.  I don't know."

"How about we look for the music when we get home.  I know you have the song, but it has the words.  You need an instrumental version so you can hear the music and YOU can sing to it."

"Oh, okay."

We proceeded home, where I downloaded an instrumental version and she began rehearsing.  With 30 minutes before bedtime, she begins to get frustrated because the song "wasn't the same".  I walked her through it, and she tried again for a few minutes.  Just before bed, she sits down at the table, looking dejected.  

"Maybe I'll just try it next year."

The triumph of The Dream Crusher is bittersweet.

I could have agreed to the tryout wholeheartedly, trusting that that she was good to go, sitting with her after school, watching her friends and classmates show their talent.  I would have then sat alone while she fumbled and stumbled through the song, getting frustrated, and possibly dissolving into tears.  She would have failed, been embarrassed for a few days, and then gotten over it.  While this would have been a learning experience for her (because I absolutely think we all need to occasionally fail to improve), I felt it was better to encourage her to think through the steps needed to be successful BEFORE the event vs. after.  She has a hard time thinking ahead, and that is a process that is both undervalued and unappreciated today.  We live in a world of instant gratification, and while I appreciate living in the moment, I think that our kids are losing the ability to think critically and plan ahead.  So yes, I may have been (am) the Mean Mommy, but I hope she learned something from this.  And next year, we'll start practicing well before the end of April.  

Was I right?  Wrong?  Should I have let her feel the sting of failure in front of her peers & teachers?

PS: This is my 600th post. Yowza!


Marisa said...

Well, you were nicer than my dad, who would have told me (as a grade school child): "Remember the 6 P's. Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance." Yikes. Hopefully she'll remember your (nice) advice in high school and college when she has to study for tests!

Robyn said...

Amy, I agree with you 110%. I'm all about learning experiences, but I think being embarrassed in front of the whole school would have been too much for her. I think you handled it beautifully.

Rita@thissortaoldlife said...

I'm a teacher (for whatever that's worth), and I think you did the right thing, too. I don't think you were a dream crusher. I think letting her experience too much failure would have been a bigger way to crush her dreams--because then she might not have been willing to try again. Dang, parenting's hard.