What’s harder on a parent’s heart than a disappointed kid?
For Day 5 of the A to Z Challenge, E is for Empathy. It feels hopeless to see our kids sad. What can we do? We can hope, we can love, and we can never leave their side, that’s what. A parent’s default – a dad’s, especially – is to fix everything. Even when he can’t.
Last week I wrote about the way Madison flings her body around the soccer pitch as a goalkeeper.
Pride swells when she stops a goal and her teammates voice appreciation –in words and intensified play. She’s a spark plug. She’s also a tether ball, smacked and kicked and sent this direction and that. I wince every time. I want to run on the field to protect her.
A crucial lesson in parenthood: Resist the urge to fix what you can, cover what you can’t and shield your kid from everything else.
Camdyn and I attended Broadway Junior recently. It’s a day of theatrical performances from regional schools. Broadway professionals critique and commend the actors. Kids attend workshops and learn lyrics and techniques and dance moves.
Chasing the gold
Judges watch for superstar performers, kids who show gumption and plenty of flair.
They select two all-stars from each school to perform a number they learn in 60 minutes. Camdyn has watched classmates and other superb performers bounce to the stage as their names are called, medals draped over their necks over smiling faces.
It’s an honor – but hit or miss.
How can an all-star emerge in an 11-minute act? She can’t. She might flash panache, splash and shine. Show pizzazz, with a presence. Camdyn knows. She acted with an eye on the prize: She sold it, sister.
When Queen’s Grant took the stage first to perform Jungle Book, Camdyn’s face became utter animation.
Expressions burst through almond-shaped brown eyes, life and vivaciousness from an artistic smile. Girlfriend had it. Only she didn’t. Although one judge pointed at her, they picked another girl from the school. One of Camdyn’s friends.
I studied Camdyn’s expression, the disappointment welling within.
Dealing with it
She clapped for her classmate, and fought to smile through disappointed lips. Not a disparaging word emerged from those lips. Our drive-home conversation? I can’t give all the details. But here’s the highlights:
I love you, Camdyn. Your performance? Stellar. When you love what you do, and do what you love, there’s reward in that, isn’t there? All true, but … You gave an all-star performance. I loved watching you.
I know others did too. You deserved to be up on that stage.
“It kind of sucked not to be picked, didn’t it?”
She smiled and nodded.
We’ll get them, next year.