I Can’t Stand To Watch My Child Audition

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child auditionI had to leave the room. I had a knot in my stomach the entire day of her audition.

My daughter was auditioning for a part in Beauty and the Beast. Of course, because she’s a confident little girl, she wanted the part of Beauty. While she’s good, she certainly wasn’t the best. But telling your daughter that it was very doubtful that she was going to get the part of Beauty, not just because there were way more experienced actors, who were also older than her, is tricky.

I want her to keep that confidence, but I also want her to know that she can’t always get what she wants (as the song goes.) So, I told her that whatever part she ends up getting will be an amazing experience and that I’ll be proud of her no matter what. But it’s completely painful to have to watch your daughter audition and then watch other kids audition who are clearly much more talented. I hated every second of it. In fact, I only lasted 10 minutes before I had to leave the room and go get a coffee.

As adults, we learn to keep our expectations in check. We may be up for a job, but we know others are too, so though we know we have a chance, we also know it’s no guarantee. But children don’t know this yet. And this is a good thing. I want my daughter to know that the world is her oyster, and that everything she wants to do in life, she can do. Of course, this is not true. For example, if she wants to be a doctor, but fails all her math courses, well, it’s pretty much a guarantee that she’s not going to get into medical school.

I also am not a pushy mother. I didn’t make my daughter practice her audition for hours and hours and weeks before the actual audition date. I didn’t want to make it into a big deal, for fear that she’d think it was a huge deal, and then be exceptionally disappointed when she didn’t get the part she wanted. I don’t know how mothers of want-to-be professional dancers or singers or performers do it. Or for that matter, parents of children who try out for sports teams. How can they sit there and watch their children try out without getting sick to their stomach, like I did.

This is a fine line in parenting. You of course want your children’s dreams to come true, but you also have to pick up the pieces when they don’t happen. Maybe I am too laid back about these things. I believe my daughter is talented, but how talented?

I have to admit I was shocked last year when my daughter won a prestigious writing award at her school during the graduating ceremony. Out of more than a hundred children, she won first place. I was in the audience, practically falling asleep as I watched child after child getting their diplomas walking on stage and shaking the headmistress’s hand. Then they announced the winners of this writing award. Some child won third place. Then some child won second place. And then, suddenly, I was woken up when I heard my daughter’s name being called for winning FIRST place. I had no idea that she would win. As they announced the third and second place winners, I actually thought, “Oh god, I’m going to have to explain to her that she can try again next year.” Instead, she won, and I cried with pride. And, I hate to admit it, but I didn’t think she would win. Does that make me an awful parent?

All I know is that I’m not cut out to be a momager. I can’t deal with my daughter losing, while at the same time, teach her to be a good loser. I have to explain that she has to keep her expectations in check, while still encouraging her to try her best and go after her dreams. Man, this parenting thing is hard. If she’s upset, then I’m upset. And that’s just the way it is.

(photo: olly/ Shutterstock)