My oldest daughter Cassidy, then 6, stood stock-still on the stage. Her dark blonde hair spilled to her waist, curled at the ends and topped with a pretty bow. She was wearing a white blouse with ruffled cuffs under a dark green velvet vest and a matching skirt. She wore white tights and shiny black Mary Janes. She was a vision.
Her bright blue eyes, edged with lovely, long, dark lashes, darted around the room. A nervous grin was locked on her face. She had exactly two lines for the Christmas pageant -- two lines that were suddenly too overwhelming for her to say out loud. She continued to grin and swallowed hard, looking to me for help. I smiled and nodded, trying to help her along. A titter swept through the audience, myself and my husband included. We weren't trying to be unkind; she was just so very cute in her nervousness.
Her smile began to falter and her eyes started to fill up. "Oh, no," I breathed, and gave my husband a concerned look. We exchanged glances that asked, "What do we do?" I smiled again at Cassidy and tried to mouth her the lines in case she had forgotten them. The longer she stood there, the more everyone giggled, and the more I realized this wasn't funny to her at all.
I thought for sure that she would burst out in tears and that I would have to rescue her from the platform. Her little sister, 3 at that time, promptly rose from her seat and marched up on stage. She spun around directly in front of Cassidy and addressed the crowd, pulling off the lines without batting an eyelash. Immediately, the giggling turned into uproarious laughter as both of the girls calmly walked off the stage and sat down with us.
I put my arm around Cassidy and asked her what happened. "You knew your lines so well at home, honey. Why didn't you say them?" She shrugged her shoulders. My heart was hurting for her, but she seemed to be fine now that the moment was over. For her, it was as if that "failure" had never occurred.
That was the last time my daughter let her fear get the best of her. She has run for student office and not been elected, endured tryouts for plays and gotten no more than a place in the chorus or a bit dancing role, and she still holds her head high and does her part, fine with how events turned out. The fact that she even tries out is foreign to me; I would rather not even dare if I thought I might fail. We taught her differently, though, and she takes risks with that lesson in mind: It's not the winning that matters, but simply the experience of giving it a go.
Now the pretty girl with the bow is off to college -- for theater, of all things -- and is as secure in being just who she is as a person can be. She's never given up, has always gone for what she wanted and persevered, whether win, place, or show. If she continues on this path, and I am confident she will, I know she'll be exactly what every person longs to be: securely happy.
Creative cook ShortOrderMom is also a Disney Family Blogger. Read more about her first and second children -- as well as the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh -- at Cookies to Caviar. If she can get dinner on the table, so can you!