My daughter experienced great disappointment today.
And I’m happy about it.
Before you call DCFS, let me explain.
Two months ago she was given a piano piece to learn for a contest she was going to. She’s gone to contest four years in a row now, and has always done well. She loves performing in front of people, and rarely gets nervous in these situations. I’ve always admired how well she handles playing or auditioning in front of other people.
At the contest last year she practiced every once in a while before the big day. When she played her piano piece in front of the judge, she did okay in my opinion. She played it a little too fast and messed up a few times, but it was okay. The judge, however, gave her a first superior. A FIRST SUPERIOR! She walked out of the room with a puffed out chest and a big head. I walked out of the room muttering to myself….
She was good, but she was NOT first superior good.
So this year, she gets her piano piece. It’s a little more difficult because she’s a year older now, but she waited until Monday to begin practicing. She put in some time here or there between volleyball practice and homework. Then Friday night, she realized she was not ready. So she sat for hours in front of her keyboard, practicing. Hubby and I were totally impressed with how diligently she was working through the difficult parts, but we knew she had a long way to go if she was going to be able to play well in front of the judge.
By the end of the night, she had it memorized, but still stumbled through the difficult parts. This morning, she practiced on the real piano. Of course those keys are much heavier so it made it more difficult to play. She practiced for a few hours on that before it was time to go.
She was nervous all the way there. LIke I mentioned before, she doesn’t usually get nervous, so I knew that she knew she wasn’t prepared.
We arrived in her designated classroom just in time to hear the young girl before her play. Then it was her turn. She sat down at the piano, played the starting key, and waited for the judge’s “go”. She made it through the first two measures, then asked to start over. She was allowed. The second time she made it to the difficult part, and didn’t just stumble. She froze.
She plunked around for a little while, then turned to the judge to see if she could start over. Once again she was allowed.
The third time was NOT the charm. She plinked and plunked and never did figure out the notes for middle of the song. It was excruciating watching her struggle. I can’t believe she didn’t just turn to the judge and tell her “I quit.”
Instead she somehow managed to end the song, and the judge encouragingly led the applause.
When the song was over, my heartbroken little girl walked slowly back to me. She looked at me with tears rolling down her cheeks. “I just couldn’t remember how it went…”, she cried. I felt my own eyes brimming with tears. I hated seeing her so sad.
The judge returned her piano copy, and we walked to the hall to wait for her score. Once posted, she asked me to go look. We knew what it had to have been, and we were right. It was a “second”. Similar to a ‘c’ on a report card.
I wiped her tears, gave her a hug, and tried to comfort her. I also reiterated the point that next time, she should probably get a little more practice time in, so that she’s more prepared.
It was definitely a hard lesson for her to learn. But I blame some of it on last year’s judge. I think adults these days want the kids to feel proud and self-confident, so they praise them for everything – earned or not. So she never felt the drive to work hard on this piece.
As a teacher, I saw many projects turned in that was obviously done with or even by the parents. What are we teaching our children by doing this? They receive an A for a good project, but they didn’t do the work.
It’s definitely difficult to watch your children experience disappointment. But it’s a great lesson to learn. And I have a very good feeling that next year she will practice diligently and EARN her first superior score, because she’ll know what she needs to do.
And that’s why I’m happy.