Do we let children keep hope of having the impossible happen, or “prepare” them by telling them that it won’t? I asked myself this question the other day as my daughter anticipated the posting of the cast list for our local ballet’s production of the Nutcracker. This was the first year she was eligible to audition, and she was beyond excited.
While driving to the audition, I told her to do her best and have fun. I also reminded her that if it didn’t work out this year, that it would be great experience just to audition. She said, “Don’t worry Mom, I will be fine. It will work out. I just know it.”
At the end of the audition time, I was met at the door by a steady stream of young girls, all with smiles on their faces. A good sign! My daughter’s first words to me were, “I auditioned for Clara!” Clara? Clara is a main role in the production. I had never heard of an eight year old being cast as Clara.
At home, she asked if she could re-enact her audition for us. We assembled into our family room and watched our daughter perform each part of her audition. At last, she asked, “Do you want me to show you how I tried out for Clara?” We said, “Sure!”
Although we thought she did a marvelous job, I couldn’t imagine they would cast her as Clara, and wondered why they let all the younger girls try out for this role. I asked my daughter if she thought that Clara should be played by someone older that danced en pointe, to which she replied, “They said that a child would be Clara this year, and you never know who might be the best for the part. They said we could audition if we wanted to, so most of us did. I might be Clara, Mom, you never know!”
Was she right? I knew that there was a less than slim chance that she would get the part of Clara, but would it be wrong of me to “prepare” her by telling her that an older girl would most likely get the part? Should I allow her to dream of the possibilities, and not give her a dose of the real world? This posed a real dilemma for me as a parent. In the end, my husband and I decided to not “squash” her hope, and allowed her to keep dreaming of being cast in any role.
Right before finding out the cast list, my daughter said she didn’t care what part she got, she would be excited to have any part. She also said that since she was starting so young, maybe one day she might be good enough to be chosen to play Clara.
I realized then that I didn’t need to “prepare” her after all. She already knew all that she needed to know, and dreaming the seemingly impossible dream was really okay.
By the way, she was cast as one of the little soldiers. She has been walking around as an excited little soldier ever since!