My oldest daughter Meghan is in a ballet coming up for her dance studio called Mary Poppins. Every year they do this really cool thing before the ballet where the older kids in the ballet, or the feature roles or whatever you would call it, get dressed up in costume and the little kids at the studio get to come in and meet them. The older kids walk around in costume introducing themselves to the kids and spending a few minutes with them. My daughter has always loved this event. To her, those “older” kids were larger than life. She would look at those kids like they were superheroes. I actually think the older kids and the younger kids get something equally as cool from this event. The younger kids stare in awe at these older, incredible dancers and performers and can’t wait for their turn, and the older kids get a little taste of being a star. I think they remember being that little and appreciate the moment they are in now. For those older kids, they have all put in a ton of time at the studio, lots and lots of work, year after year, so they deserve to feel like stars. They are all really, really good kids.
The event was held this past weekend and my daughter then had her rehearsals with the cast after. So, I didn’t get a chance to see her until long after the morning event with the little kids was. My god daughter was one of the little kids, so I was sent a few pictures, but I couldn’t wait to see my daughter. She got in the car and I asked her about the day. She started right in with how incredible it was to be a part of the party with the little ones. She was beaming with pride, telling me a story of her seeing a little girl with her mom and walking over to her and introducing herself as Mary Poppins. She said the little girls face lit up and she asked if she could walk the little girl into the party. She almost started to cry from joy. There is no manual in the Dad book for what to do with happy tears. I’m surprised I was able to drive the car after that with all the water pouring out of my eyes.
I have had a few talks with my daughter about roles over the years. I remember her feeling heartbroken one year because she didn’t get the role she wanted. We talked a lot about how auditions are very subjective. You could hit all your lines, or crush all your turns, but the judges want a red head girl to play Annie. Sometimes, things are completely out of your control. And, how this time she gets to play MARY POPPINS, but next year or next ballet it will be someone else’s turn to be the headline name. I like my kids to know that whether it is first place, or last place, I’m just on their team. I love the times we get to celebrate, don’t get me wrong. But when we don’t and I have to be the shoulder to cry on, I like that role too. I’ll cry either way.
This weekend my youngest was a cheer competition and she did really well, but her team came in last place. But, she was happy with the team’s performance and wasn’t overly upset with the result. Disappointed, sure, but it wasn’t going to ruin her day. These are the moments I love being a Dad for. I like the highs, as obviously everyone does, but the lows are just small parts of the day. The low was erased by a dinner and a car ride with her Mom. Doesn’t get much better or easier than that as a parent.
Anyway, Mary Poppins went on to tell me about rehearsal and just about how she is very happy with how things are going and she casually mentions a small solo she has at the end of the ballet. She started talking about how the ballet ends and she stops herself and says “maybe I will leave it up for a surprise, ahh, never mind, you will cry no matter what” and she finishes her story, smiling from ear to ear. It is so cool to get to hear her talk about living out her dream. I’m so lucky I get to be a part of these kids lives. I get to experience all these things that I was too scared to try as a kid. But, all I was thinking about the rest of the car ride home was that maybe I should ask one of the lighting people for the show to leave the lights off at the end of the ballet so this Dad could collect himself and not be weeping in front of the entire audience.
If life could be measured in Happy Tears I would be considered a very rich man.