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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Joy In Mudville?

Emma probably handled not knowing the results of the talent show auditions better than we did.  Friday was supposed to be "the day".  The results were supposed to have been posted outside the Activities office and the lucky (talented, rather) participants would be listed, along with the practice schedule.

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.

Next year.

  

59 comments:

  1. What a bummer for all of you - especially Emma - but how awesome you and Leslie are in the way you support her.

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    1. We're mostly sad for her, and worried she won't try again because she didn't get in the first try. . . we'll see. She's better than that, I think.

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  2. Your little girl is amazing. It sounds like she handled it better than kids twice her age. I share your hope that she tries again :)

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  3. Jim . . . .

    will you be my daddy? (Mrs. Jim, don't worry, I mean that in a purely platonic and non-creepy parental-admiration kind of way!)

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    1. haha. . . she reads comments too. I'll probably have to talk this one out. . .

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  4. Awwww. Life lessons suck. You so right. That was HUGELY brave of her! There's no way in heck I would have been able to do that either. Glad to hear she's handling it all so well. Maybe even better than Dad? lol Seriously, she's a pretty amazing kid. But, i'm sure you already know that :)

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    1. probably better than dad. *nods*

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  5. Aw, boo! That is one insanely competitive talent show. She's handling it well, you & Leslie are handling it SO well (seriously, high-fives to you both, you are the most supportive!) but it still sucks a little. I so wanted her to make it.

    Big hugs to all of you guys today. I still call voter fraud and ballot-box rigging and...um...WATERGATE! and...HANGING CHADS!

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    1. I think there's one kid singing in the entire thing? how does that make sense? Bah!

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  6. It's hard not to step in and fix things but the lessons Emma learned will take her far in life. The most important thing she learned - or was reminded of again? The unconditional love you and Leslie have for her. And that is the biggest confidence builder of all! Way to go, Emma! (and mom and dad, too)

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  7. Oh yes, I have tremendous difficulty trying not to make up for disappointment. It's just never wanting your kid to hurt in any way. I am glad to hear she handled it so well. I am not sure I was that mature in 4th grade, either. Too bad they can't split the show into grades or something, as I am sure there were lots of great acts that didn't make it. I hope she does pursue singing if she really loves it!

    Also, I kinda want to know if that washcloth boy made it...

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    1. I think he was just there to support his SISTER who was in the auditions, and also to work on his kung fu.

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  8. You're a good daddy. I wish more parents took that attitude with their kid.
    Sometimes you can learn more from not "winning."

    Great post.

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    1. So true. And real praise at the right moment, as you did here Jim, is way more powerful than repetitive affirmations. Great post.

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  9. I have to say that was some fine parenting. But regardless of your words, Emma is blossoming. You & Leslie did what you should even though it's so tempting to try and sugar coat disappointment but Emma did the hard work on herself and for herself to build her own character. She chose to enter. She handled the disappointment with a lot of maturity.

    That being said, what kind of baloney is this talent show, mini American Idol?! Schools are supposed to build a child's self esteem & confidence. If it is too many people for a show - make more shows and let everyone have their moment regardless of their talent. Even William Hung made it on TV! Schools ...

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    1. That was one of my thoughts. . . why not just do a 4th grade show, where more kids make it?? But still.

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  10. Aw!!! My kids are older and at the point where many things require auditions or try-outs and kids are chosen by teachers, etc . . . Sometimes when results are skewed (and it happens) it's hard to handle, but it all works out. There are times when you challenge and times when you don't, so long as the kids know you got their back it's okay either way. I like to add a little humor (but my kids are older). I've been known to say, "Aw man, am I gonna have to burn the school down? They just put on that new wing and it would be a shame, but I gotta do what I gotta do." Then I get in return, "Oh mom, stop it." (And I look for my gas can)

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    1. She gets LIBERALLY dosed with humor, believe me! ;)

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  11. It's a tough world and all you can do is give her the support she needs to keep her self esteem in shape. Looks like you and Lesley know what you are doing!

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  12. You are a terrific dad...I am sure Emma knows how much she's loved...and could feel your pride. I am glad she's handling her disappointment so maturely...that says a lot about her, and is a testament to your and Leslie's parenting.

    Bummer that she didn't make the cut...hopefully next year!

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    1. next year. . . we'll start practicing this weekend!

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  13. Oh, that's a bummer! It sounds like she handles it really well, especially for her age. As long as she keeps trying, she is a winner!

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  14. Boy, Emma is a brave girl - and incredibly mature to boot. You have much to be proud of...but you already knew that, didn't you?

    I really like that you told herhow proud you were - never underestimate the power of your approval. I'm in my 30's and a parent myself, but when my dad tells me his is proud of me, it still rocks my world.

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    1. I'm never too stingy with my approval. But then, she's never really NOT earned it.

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  15. I feel sad - but I live daily by the thought that things happen for reasons - just hard to accept sometimes. I loved how it was all handled - you two are a fine example of what good parenting is - and just think- you didn't even have to use a Paren't Guide to know what to say and do -Love you guys
    Ms Aweeze

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  16. So sorry to hear that she didn't make it! Does sound like tough odds. Interesting choice for the talent show organizer to make - trying to limit the audience? The majority is made up of parents and family coming to watch their performer at our school. You handled the whole situation admirably. She absolutely should keep singing and try again if it's what she wants to do.

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    1. yeah, way tougher odds than I would have thought for a first time talent show. . . thanks!

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  17. You have a really lovely family. I'm so sorry she didn't make it, but what a wonderful way for all of you to handle it.

    Also, WHERE WERE LILY'S GLASSES?

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    1. The Special K teacher had them. I'm not sure why. But we texted her and she said she had them. The text was a little confusing wasn't it?

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  18. It sucks that she didn't make it, but atleast she was brave enough to audition for a spot in front of a group of people. And I'm glad she handled it well.

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  19. So sorry to hear she didn't make it!
    Love the way you guys handled it though. And it sounds as though she's taking it really well. Obviously sad, but as well as she could.
    There's always next year!

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    1. We're going to get started right now. . . this time there should be costumes and lighting. . .

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  20. Hey Jim,

    I'm so freaking sorry. I hate that for all of you guys. Does your town have any community theater programs? Those are FANTASTIC, from what I hear.

    Her glasses are probably down between her bed and the wall. That's where everything is, everything, in our house.

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    1. Her kindergarten teacher had them! I KNEW i put them on her!

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  21. You got rid of your captcha! YAY! We can still be friends!

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    1. I owe it all to you. I half-assed ditching captcha for months before you told me where to look.

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  22. Sorry she didn't make it :( But you're right, there is always next year. Bravo to you for not trying to fix everything too. That's hard but I think you're right that it's also an important lesson to learn.

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    1. I was excited to learn that she congratulated one of her friends who made it in baton despite not making it herself. It's a neat little group of friends she has.

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  23. Poop. We were all rooting for Emma, but she sounds like a trooper. She'll try again.

    You made up all that other stuff, didn't you? Your part? I mean, what are you, Ward Cleaver? ; )

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    1. Nooooo! How could you even THINK that?!

      I'm equal parts Ward Cleaver/Xenophilius Lovegood/Peter Griffin

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  24. She should definitely be proud of herself. I'm sorry she didn't make it and I completely understand the urge to make it right/compensate. That's something I'll have to be very conscious of if I have kids.

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    1. It can be forgiven on occasion, I think. Just not EVERY occasion.

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  25. Oh the Mighty Casey! Of course I'm not happy that Emma didn't make it (because you know I was rooting for her!), but I am VERY happy at how well you ALL are taking it. Part of why Emma can take it so well is because you and Leslie are, and have been, modeling good behavior. Make sure to give yourself a pat on the back as much as you pat Emma's. :-)

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    1. oh. . . um. . . about that. . . we sorta TP'ed the judge's house.

      I kid.

      Or do I?

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  26. Jim - great fathering there. You didn't "fix it" for her like so many, many dads feel compelled to do. You let her absorb the loss so she could process it and that is really profound parenting. Bravo! (-:

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    1. aww, thanks. I can't always say I don't try to fix it, but THIS time I didn't.

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  27. and that, my friend, is some Quality Ass Parenting.

    not that i have the power to give em, but if i did, i'd say take an A.

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  28. I am all teary now...and no tissues are in this car, dammit! What a great dad!

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    1. I ALWAYS have tissues in the car. Maybe you're right. . . maybe I AM a great dad!

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  29. It just dawned on me that my Crazy Horse and your Emma are the same age/grade!

    Last year she tried out too. It was the saddest thing. She rehearsed every day. Going over her dance routine to Bruno Mars...There is a silence in the car now when ever his song comes on...

    The joys of parenting :)

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    1. awwww. At least Defying Gravity never plays on the radio station I listen to.

      Emma was pretty good with it when it was all said and done. There was sort of a post script to the whole thing that "helped". I was thinking about blogging it, but meh. . . One of the judges approached her at school the day after they announced who made it and asked if Emma had. When Emma told her "no" she looked surprised and then checked through her notes. She said, "I gave you the highest marks you could get, let me see what's going on."

      She checked through her notes. I don't know how many kids made it. . . 20 or 30 or whatever, but whatever the number was. . . add 1 and there Emma sat. She's the first alternate if one of the other kids can't make it. She JUST missed out.

      You'd think something like that would almost make it worse, but for Emma it was as if the judges at least thought she was ALMOST there, and this judge in particular had given her the best marks. . . so it made her feel better.

      Secretly I think she still hopes that one of the other kids will drop dead and she'll get that last spot.

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