Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Agony, Desolation, and Shoes

Rose has spent the last six months giving me grief over how she can't sing, can't act and will never be able to get a part in the musical, Little Women, playing at our local theater. She practiced the songs from the musical. She read and studied the story. She tried to perfect frail and sickly, so she could audition for the part of Beth. She nagged me daily about how she knows she's a horrible singer and she'll never get the part.

Well, after trying out Sunday evening, she didn't. In fact it was embarrassingly disappointing for her.

She was required to prepare 16 bars of music to sing. She was number 32 of 40 actors. About 1/3 of them couldn't carry a tune in a bucket if they tried. One girl sang "Happy Birthday" and lost her pitch on every single note. I felt like I was watching American Idol. The director and the music director were patient and polite.

By the time Rose climbed up on stage, it was apparent they just wanted the nuts and bolts of the song to show the singer's range. They weren't interested in anything pretty. Frail and sickly didn't matter if Beth looked too young for the part, which apparently was the case (we didn't find this out till the next day).

Anyway, the pianist messed up about the fifth bar; Rose lost her pitch; regained by the sixth bar; and was cut off by the 8th with a polite "Thank you." It was devastating and embarrassing for a girl who had spent a half of a year working for a part which she lost in 45 seconds or less.

The drive home was very quiet. She went inside, showered for about 30 minutes, and reappeared puffy-eyed and very pink. I did my best to talk to her about all the wise blah-blah I need to tell her so she can grow up to be a strong and confident woman. But this was very difficult. She had assured me the day before the auditions that she wasn't very attached to this role, so if she didn't get it she wouldn't be upset.

That plan didn't work out.

The next morning I could tell by looking at her that she had cried herself to sleep. It wasn't long before she showed up at breakfast with a tissue and watery eyes. Over the course of the morning she would sob over her grammar, sigh over her science, and stare out of the window in perfect agony.

I decided I wasn't going to talk about it because I used up all my wise blah-blah the night before. So I called my mom to see if she was available. Rose needed to pick up her winter-formal dress that had been altered, and shop for some shoes for the homeschool-formal taking place next Friday.

They left and returned four hours later with the dress, some lipstick, and a cute little pair of black patent-leather, baby-doll, three-inch heels that work perfectly with the dress. We decided we'll get her a red purse and a red bow for her hair, which she'll wear pulled back in the bow and curled around her shoulders.

Later in the day she came up and hugged me like she hasn't done in a long time. I could tell she was finished crying. As I hugged her I said, "Rose, I know the real problem is not that you sang poorly, but that you were dismissed with all of the other girls who were really bad. But you need to know that when you put yourself out there to be judged by someone else, there's always the chance that they are going to judge you negatively. You can spend your life being afraid of being judged negatively by someone else, or you can just keep doing what you love to do. When I was a kid, I would never have done what you did. I was too afraid of someone telling me I wasn't good enough. What you have done in your short little life is prove to me that my fear kept me from doing many exciting things and meeting wonderful people."

..and shoes work magic.