Ancient History

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“You may never know the time of when they grow…”

Aidan is supposed to be auditioning for her school’s talent show right now. She isn’t.

I got a backback surprise last Friday as I rifled through the papers jammed unlovingly inside. I was looking for the May cafeteria menu but found a confirmation she signed up to audition for the talent show.

I assumed she was going to sing. She is an above-average singer for her age, managing to stay in tune without trying to go all “American Idol” with the vocal fluff. She is very shy about her voice, however.

“I see you are going to audition for the talent show? What are you going to perform?”

She answered, “I am going to dance!”


“Yeah, I am going to dance. I have it all worked out in my head.” She left the room.

Dance? Dance? Dance? Her dance experience was about a month of ballet when she was three. Dancing along to “Wiggles” DVDs is a great workout, but can hardly be considered training. I needed to let the information twirl in my mind for awhile.

Later, I asked if she had been practicing and if she had music picked out.

“I don’t need to practice. I am doing the Macarena!” she said.

“How are you going to do the music?”

“I don’t know if I will use music,” she said in a voice with shoulders, which were shrugging.

Suddenly I could see her onstage, in front of the audition judges and dozens of other elementary school students, doing a silent surreal Macarena-mime-style, alone. It was painful.

My instinct to encourage and cheer her on collided with my instinct to protect her from certain embarrassment.

I explained how talent shows were all about originality. I told her how she should have been practicing something special for weeks because I knew she’d want to do her best. She seemed to turn these things over in her mind. I was trying to discourage her without discouraging her.

Last night at dinner we decided she would skip the audition this year and that next year we would remind her when talent show time was nearing, so she could prepare something in advance. It all seemed settled, until this afternoon.

When I picked her up from school she looked at me earnestly and said “I really want to audition!” The sounds of echoing snickers directed at her came screeching back and my heart pounded. don't trim too much

“Remember, you aren’t ready to do a dance?” I said.

“Oh, no. I am not going to dance. I am going to read a poem I wrote today.” She waved a piece of paper over her head.

Big sigh, “Writing is a talent, but not a talent for a show like this.”

“Oh. Okay.”

I took the paper from her and read her poem. It was good. We went home.

One of my prayers for my children is that they will recognize their gifts and talents and use them to bring happiness and light into the world. I also pray I won’t stand in their way.

Why can’t I shake the feeling I stood in her way, somehow?

Roses and Lilies Dark Red
by Aidan

Roses and lilies of dark red,
blossom in the winter of snow and frigid cold,
you may never know the time of when they grow.
Roses and lilies of dark red.

9 comments to “You may never know the time of when they grow…”

  • Mahthellin

    The Gift that runs in the family clearly runs in her genes as well. Soon enough she will shine.

  • hamster

    That’s a wonderful poem.

  • What a nice poem. I love it.

    Mothers’ guilt will pound you every chance it gets.It looks like you are doing a great job.

  • She needs to do a little talent show for your family. Everyone line up on the couch and watch Aidan do the silent Macarena.

    I think you handled the situation wisely Gretchen. And I echo the previous comments, Aidan is a VERY talented writer. The poem is beautiful, but I do think I like Pewnicorn a tad bit better. Maybe because I giggle everytime I say that word in my head.

  • My heart breaks for both of you. I so know where this is coming from. How you are feeling. Finding a balance is so darn hard

  • At my kids’ elementary school, kids did read poems. This post brought back such fresh memories of hard situations like this. So often it is hard for our kids to grasp “their” unique talents. For some reason the things they are good at don’t seem important enough to them. They see someone who can dance, sing, or whatever and they want to be able to do that too. You were very wise in trying to encourage her in her own talents.

  • Gosh, it’s so hard to find the right balance between being protective and encouraging them to follow their hearts and dreams. The poem is lovely. That talent clearly runs in the family!

  • I have a little Aiden at my house. Well, she’s actually 13 now, not so little. But still gets carried away with her idea of what it’s going to look like, heedless of all reality checks. I’ve had to do what you did – remind her that there are certain ways to go about things. I’ve also given her free reign when the lesson learned was more valuable than saving face.

    It’s a tough one. We learn as we go, don’t we?

    I love, love, love that poem!

  • mopsy

    Thanks, everyone. And Carol—my daughter would be thrilled to know there is another girl Aidan running around. She likes her name, but I think she wishes she weren’t “the only one”.

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