Every parent believes their child, upon birth, is destined for greatness despite the multitude of flawed traits their parents may have.
When my daughter was four, I enrolled her in dance class at the Y. There’s few things I’ve enjoyed more in my lifetime than watching her and all the other girls dance before their greatest fans at the Lincoln Square Theatre.
Parents were full of pride and grandparents, well they were hopelessly elated. I could always spot a grandparent. They brought gifts of a dozen roses, enough balloons to carry a child away in a stiff breeze, stuffed animals in life size, ponies, diamond encrusted tiaras…you get the picture.
My daughter always loved her flowers and balloons. Thankfully she never got a pony. The neighbors probably would have objected.
You think in your head that your daughter is the most beautiful, talented and graceful creature to ever inhabit the earth while they’re on stage and off for that matter.
Forgetting about the backstage drama, the wardrobe malfunctions, and the hair emergencies that never resolved themselves until the panicked few seconds before stepping onto the stage, it all seems so effortlessly perfect. We tend to forget all those details when years later all we have are a few photos and a shaky video of the dance.
By the time she was age 9 or so, I began to realize there were other girls far more talented in dancing. My daughter could learn all the steps and follow along well enough but it was clear, she would not be making a living out of this. It was the same at age 42 when I realized I can’t sing worth a crap. My dreams of being a rock and roll goddess up in smoke!
And sons. My son is not athletic at all. He played baseball for a couple summers and it took about 2 1/2 minutes to realize that scouting agents would not be beating our door down. There would be no athletic scholarships or clips in the newspaper. He couldn’t throw, catch or hit the ball. He was scared of the ball and I spent a half an hour trying to convince him that he wouldn’t go permanently blind from the dust blowing around in the diamond.
I always sat watching in fear that he would be hit by a ball or run over by a much larger kid. Some of those boys swung their bats around wildly during practice, coming within an inch of hitting their teammates’ heads. It scared me to death because we’ve had a young family member killed in a similar manner. I would have preferred to watch him dance in a ballet than killed by an overgrown seven year old barbarian.
I remember one game in which he was playing outfield, (well he was standing in the outfield) and instead of watching for the ball, he picked a bouquet of dandelions for me. The other boys were picking flowers for their moms too and bending over looking at insects in the grass. My hope of my son being a St. Louis Cardinal withered in the summer sun of a weeded baseball diamond, but really the flowers he gave me were better than a major league contract anyway.
Besides he might have wound up playing for the Cubs. That’s almost too horrible to think about.
And now four years later, he’s a soccer player and well, it’s pretty much the same story, just minus the dandelions. :(