When my daughter, Lucy, 7, came running home from school to tell me she was trying out for the school talent show held at the annual carnival, I was filled with immediate dread. She and her friend Anna wanted to sing Adele’s Someone Like You. I smiled and said you will do great! But, inside I was consumed with fear. Let’s back up a bit. I am not a musical person. I love music but cannot produce it in a way that is pleasant to humans. Or any creature for that matter. When I was in second grade I proudly took flute lessons. I thought I was really, really good. So I was very surprised when my mother told me that the teacher had called and did not think that flute was the instrument for me. And that was the last of my flute lessons. In ninth grade choir (required for all students at my liberal arts high school), my teacher singled me out before a concert by telling me to mouth the words. True story. So I have a thing about singing out loud. I know I have other gifts but who doesn’t want to belt it like Janis Joplin?
And then here was Lucy, jumping up and down with excitement because she wanted to sing in front of a very large crowd. On purpose. The girls practiced every day after school. I heard Adele everywhere. On the radio. In my living room. In in my sleep. My four year old son could sing the entire song. Lucy was so excited. I, of course, was filled with horror. I was so scared that she was going to fail. That it was going to sound horrible. My heart ached for her. Ached because she was so confident, so sure of herself. And I did not want her to lose that.
The day of the talent show eventually arrived, despite my wish for all of time to stop. I was nervous. Ready to throw up nervous. It took all within me to not reveal the pending doom I was feeling. Lucy was bubbly, full of joy and counting down the minutes until her performance. Her brothers were equally excited. When it was the girls’ turn to sing, Lucy walked onto the stage with a confidence beyond her years.
Or was it? I keep thinking about how can I help her keep that confidence when she is 17, 27, 37. She went out there and owned the stage. Walking the stage with the microphone, singing (mostly on key…but what do I know) and smiling. She was happy, comfortable in her own skin. I was crying. I had to pass the camera to my nine year old because I was crying so hard. When we watch the video, he is singing along with her, the pride audible in his voice.
When it was all over, the crowd was cheering loudly for these brave girls. When I ran to hug her, I was sincerely amazed at her poise. To her, it was never in question. She wanted this. It may not have been my dream. But it was hers. And as parents, I think that can be the hardest thing. How can I continue to encourage confidence? How can I role model being my highest self? How can we strike that balance between following your dream and flute just isn’t your instrument? I don’t have the answers but I do know, at that moment, I was inspired by my seven year old.
Soon after, we had a family dance party; dancing and singing to Adele, Taylor Swift and Carly Rae Jepson. And I can promise you, much to my family’s dismay, I sang like no one was listening.