Growing up sucks. If you’re over the age of, let’s say, 27 then you know that the whole reason you grew up was a big fat lie. That life you imagined of “getting to do whatever you want” was far too quickly replaced with “maybe getting to do some of the things you want but having to do a lot of extra shit to get there”. I mean, obviously it’s not all bad, but it’s hard to be a grownup… to learn the lessons of life. But I digress. And this story is about my daughter.
The other day, seemingly out of nowhere, she started to cry. Real tears, not the fake or forced crying that she still somehow thinks will get her somewhere. I asked her what was wrong, and she said she was scared. I asked her why she was scared and she said, “Idol”. Every Friday at the before-school care, they do mini talent shows – the kids sign up and perform their acts and all the other kids vote for their favorite. Apparently she had signed up with some friends to do a puppet show and was now having second thoughts.
We spent several tear-soaked minutes trying to sort things out. First, I tried to convince her that she’d be great; that she’d be behind a barrier so that only her hands were showing so she wouldn’t see her audience; that she could write down the lines and rehearse so she felt more prepared. All my ideas were met with more tears, I can’t do it! What if I mess up? I have to be in front of everybody! It’s ok to mess up, I said, besides nobody will notice if you just keep going – like you were taught for your piano recital. Even her brother tried to help by comparing it to her dance recitals in which she’s performed happily in front of a crowd for 3 years. It’s not the same! That’s with a group. And I have to talk! I’m just not ready!
Ok, Plan B. This isn’t required, it’s an optional event at daycare, and the anxiety in this little puddle of emotion in my lap is palpable. It’s not worth it. So I suggest talking to Bev (the woman in charge) to see if we can NOT do Idol this week. *sniffle* Ok. Will you help me? Of course, I said, I’ll help you ask her on Monday. But, I said, you’ll have to tell your friends too.
And then, in a wailing set of fresh tears, a growing-up lesson: I have to choose between my feelings and my friends!
It happens a lot. Sometimes it’s no big deal: you feel like staying home, but you suck it up for your friends and go out for a night on the town. Sometimes it’s huge: your friend is a black hole of negativity and to save your own sanity, you stop hanging out as often. You want to be there for your friends, but sometimes your needs and your friends’ needs are incompatible, and you have to make a choice. Even for adults it can be a tough choice, but for a 6-year-old, it’s heart-wrenching.
In the end, she took her name off the list, but is going to help her friends get ready for their puppet show. It’s a good compromise, and a softer way to ease into one of life’s difficult lessons.