Applause for my girl

It’s been a big week for my daughter.  She just had a birthday, and as my mom pointed out:  she’s now lived with you in your house longer than she will live with you.  This gave me and the wife pause, and then it kind of hit me:  Mom’s probably right.  Oof.  The teen-aged years will soon be upon us.

But at this point, we’re really not all that worried.  My girl has a lot on the ball.  Parent-teacher conferences are like the highlight of the month when they occur.  She has lots of friends but not just one best friend without whom she can’t function.  She does her homework on her own.  She loves to read.  She’s kind to her little brother and often more patient with him than me (and that boy will try your patience).  In sports, she plays hard and smart and listens.

Last week was her first time at band contest, a trumpet solo.  We were well-prepared.  She can play the Jurassic Park theme without missing a note, with good dynamics and intonation.  But…  after warming up in the practice area, our piano accompanist was running behind (because there are never enough piano players these days), so she had to sit in the room with the judge for about twenty minutes waiting.  The judge was great, trying to put her at ease, talking to her about dinosaurs.  She seemed OK if not completely calm. 

Finally she was able to play her piece, but in the rush, she had no additional warm-up – not even a scale.  Sure enough, she missed the first high note in the song, a few measures in.  She didn’t stop, though, and kept going, even as her face turned red and her mother and I clenched our chairs.  She recovered and played the rest of the piece very well.  Afterwards, she was crestfallen.  “I missed that note, Dad.”  Yes, we told her, but you didn’t quit and you played the rest very musically.

We saw her band teacher on the way out (teachers can’t be in the room with students when they play their songs), and I explained what happened.  “Only one note?”  she said.  I felt pretty good at that point, and my girl certainly felt better a little later when she received a first.  Good lesson, that – about performing under pressure, being resilient, and how practice and working at something can pay off.

Similarly, she played in a 3-on-3 indoor soccer tournament last weekend.  She’s been training with her team most of the winter, really emphasizing moving after the pass, seeing the open space in which to pass, and using the weaker foot.  Now my girl’s a midfielder and doesn’t score a lot of goals, but she got a pair of them in the tournament – one with her left foot, and one really nice goal on a run into space as time was winding down.  She also set her teammates up with a couple of assists.  Her team came in second, which was a good showing considering the level of competition.

So this week we have the state standardized tests at school.  There’s some pressure in this – they’re important for our school, for the district, and for the kids in her class, as this year’s tests determine how they’ll be tracked the next few years.  We told her to just do her best and everything will work out.  It’s something every parent says to their children at some point.  For me though, it sure felt good to say that to my girl with confidence.


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