Last week my daughter asked if she could raid my tickle trunk for her school’s Christmas concert. “Mr. Lee thinks I’d make a great Marilyn Monroe,” she said. “And he thought you might have something I could wear.”
Her Grade 6 teacher was right. Among other things I had a couple of platinum wigs since I’d dressed up as the legendary bombshell twice before. The first time was for a funny YouTube video called “Happy Birthday Mister President – love Lola and Liza.” The second time was for an easy Halloween costume.
“What will you be doing?” I asked.
“Just lip synching,” she said. “We’re all dressing up as someone famous.”
She explained how her class’s portion of the show was called “Christmas with the Stars” and everyone would be pretending to be iconic singers from old to new. That sounded fun.
I immediately pulled out some of my dresses and Daisy started trying them on. Dismissing all of them as too inappropriate for an 11-year-old, she eventually found one that worked.
She then put on her favourite of the two wigs, a pair of my wedge heels, a fluffy white scarf, long silky gloves and bright red lipstick. I then darkened in her beauty mark, and presto, she was Marilyn.
Imagining that she would be up on stage alongside the rest of her class presenting as a group, I was shocked to discover that wasn’t the case at all. Instead, she performed “Santa Baby” in front of the jam-packed gymnasium all by herself.
“You were incredible,” I told her after the show. “I’m so proud of you. All the classes were wonderful, but yours really surprised me.
“I didn’t know you’d be up there in such small groups or on your own like that. There’s no way I would’ve been that brave when I was young.”
The parents I talked to in the hallway after the show agreed.
“This generation seems more expressive and less shy than we were,” said the mother of one of the other solo performers. “Probably because they’re always hamming it up in front of their iPads and putting it on YouTube.”
That made sense. It also made sense that it had something to do with their education.
“Schools have a lot to do with their level of confidence,” my friend Donna Duke said later.
”They do these kinds of productions which allow children the opportunity to strut their stuff. The middle school where I worked had teams of them doing everything involved from technical to staging, directing, performing and public relations. It was all about the kids.”
Once the first Christmas concert was over the students at Daisy’s school would get to do it all over again the next afternoon and evening.
“I’ll do better tomorrow,” my daughter said as she changed out of her costume. “I had stage fright so I forgot some stuff.” When we got home she showed me what she wanted to include: hip swaying, scarf twirling, exaggerated winking and blowing kisses as she sashayed off the stage.
She practiced a few times and went to bed, excited at the prospect of having another shot at it.
I went to the next two shows and watched as she and the other students did even better than they had the first time. Daisy was less impressed.
“I forgot to blow kisses,” she said berating herself after her third and last performance. “I got nervous and ruined my exit again.”
“You kids only had a couple days to practice,” I said. “It’s good to visualize what you did as perfectly as you intended it to be, but then you have to let it go. Be proud of how courageous you were and how amazing you did.”
After we watched the video of her performance from my iPhone she started to feel better and it became my turn to self-criticize.
“This quality is so terrible, Daisy,” I groaned apologetically. “I should have remembered to charge my video camera so I could’ve filmed it with that instead.”
“Just visualize that you did, Mama,” she said patting me on the back, laughing. “And then let it go. Be proud you at least remembered to charge your phone. I hope my memory’s that good when I’m old.”
I have a feeling it will be far better.
Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be contacted at LoriWelbourne.com.