Emma had a fever Thursday night, and we kept her home from school that Friday, emailing whoever we could think of on the staff to determine whether the results had been posted. They had not. There was a "glitch", the details of which escaped me. The results wouldn't be posted until Monday. Are you kidding me?
The weekend was busy. Every day is busy, but Emma's mind could easily be distracted from talent show results by dance classes, softball practices, softball clinics, or shopping with mom, and when we finally came up for air it was Monday morning.
We knew she wouldn't be able to tell us, but we asked her anyway. . . if you can get one of the teachers to let us know. . .
I asked her, "Whether you make it or not, can you please talk to Mrs. H. and thank her for working with you?" She agreed.
I texted Leslie in the afternoon just to see if she'd heard anything. Silly, that, she'd have texted the minute she heard, and I knew it. When she finally sent me a message later that day telling me she was leaving work, I knew we were only one commute away from finding out.
I felt dread. I don't know why. Good news is great. . . anybody can handle good news. But what if it was bad?
45 minutes later I looked at the clock at work and thought, "I wonder if she knows yet?"
I texted Leslie again, knowing that she might be taking the kids home, and probably wouldn't answer if she was. I'm in the blue. . .
Leslie called me a few minutes later. Emma didn't make it. There was no joy in Mudville. The answer to the question of "how's she handling it?" was more complicated. She was disappointed, but seemed to be handling it well. Bummed but not in tears, she was "in a mood", in Leslie's words, but Emma is often "in a mood" when she gets home from school because she eats like crap, and when she's peckish, she gets whiny.
When I got home we talked a bit before dinner. She really did seem okay with it. Probably it helped that nobody else from 4th grade made it to the big show in singing. Probably it seemed more understandable to her that she wasn't included because it really does appear that the 120 or so try outs had been weeded down to about 20 participants. Tough odds.
I asked her whether she had talked to Mrs. H, and she said she had. She said she thanked her for taking time to work with her. She already knew she hadn't made it then. I liked that.
She was probably a little bluer than usual, but she played with Lily, plopping down over and over into a bean bag chair after dinner was over and saying, "look Lily, I fell down!" Lily would then grab her own bean bag chair, eager to play with her sister, falling onto it saying, "I fall down!"
It was Leslie's turn to put her to bed tonight. She hates being lectured; Emma, I mean. Leslie hates it too, but Emma is who we're talking about. As she curled into bed next to her mother, after I'd told her I loved her and to have sweet dreams, I said I wanted to tell her something. I could see her mental eye-roll as she replied, "If it's about the promise, mommy already talked to me."
"The promise?" I prompted, and Leslie explained.
"I just asked her not to let her disappointment keep her from trying again. I told her that we thought she was really good, and if it's something she wants to pursue, to promise not to let this keep her from it."
"Oh," I said, nodding, "no, it's not that."
She looked interested again.
"I just wanted to tell you, that I'm really proud of you for trying out even though you knew you might not make it. I wanted you to know that what you did was really brave and that I don't think I could have done what you did when I was in 4th grade, getting up in front of all those people and singing alone." Leslie murmured her assent as I continued, "Whether you sang well or poorly, I'm proud of you just for getting up and trying. But, I think you sounded great. I really loved hearing your voice, and I hope you do try again."
I honestly think she was happy hearing this. I don't know if I would have been at her age, the disappointment of not making it still fresh. I just don't think I was that mature in fourth grade. I could tell she liked hearing that I thought she had a pretty voice. It's not like I'm "stingy" with praise or anything, but I choose what I praise carefully. I hate false praise, giving it and receiving it, and I think kids and adults alike can sniff it out without really breaking much of a mental sweat. She DID sound good. She WAS brave. That's easy praise to give. . . no qualifiers. But I could also tell that she liked hearing that I thought she was braver than I was at her age. I'm proud of her. WE'RE proud of her, but it's more important to me that she be proud of herself. And I think she honestly IS proud of herself for trying out even though she didn't make it.
I'm always so tempted to turn her losses into wins when she's disappointed by something, to buy her a prize when she doesn't win the raffle or gift basket or whatever. . . and lose out on the opportunity to let her absorb the loss and learn from it. I was determined that I wasn't going to do that this time. I wasn't going to minimize what it meant or buy her icecream or something to compensate. She took the loss and she handled it.
I wish she would have made it, because I know she wanted to make it, but it wasn't a loss. There might not be joy in Mudville tonight, but I'm pretty sure it'll be back by tomorrow.