Last week my 11-year-old daughter auditioned for a play at a local children’s theater. She did well enough at the first audition to receive a call back the following night for dance. We found out at the call back the play was set on a Caribbean island and most of the dancing was African-based moves. So I watched (since they left the doors to the rehearsal hall open) as my blond, mostly rhythm-less, whiter-than-white daughter tried to do these African moves.
It became apparent to me after just a few moments that this was going to go poorly. Like really bad. And it did. After an hour of watching my daughter try and fail, and try and fail, to do these moves, I was a basket case. It was obvious that she wasn’t right for the show. I just wanted to sweep her up and take her where no one could make her feel less than perfect. But that wasn’t my job at the moment. My job was to allow her to fail.
Allowing our children to fail is perhaps one of the hardest jobs we have as parents. But if you carry them through everything, they never learn to walk sure-footedly on their own.
Fast forward to last night at dinner. As part of my “try a new recipe every week” resolution, I decided to make Indian Chicken Curry – a favorite of my husband’s and something I had never made or even tried before. It was much more involved than most of the meals I usually fix.
|How the heck do you cook with this?|
It became apparent to me after just a few moments that this was going to go poorly. Like really bad. And it did. There I was running around the kitchen like an episode of Worst Cooks in America: chopping onions, dicing potatoes, trying to stir the curry paste mixture (who knew you had to mash the “paste” so you wouldn’t have chunks of it in the sauce? They should say so on the box. IN ENGLISH). I put the oil on too early and my onions weren’t all chopped, so I was darting back and forth, trying to chop and stir at the same time. Stuff was burning at the bottom of the pan. My youngest three children were hopping in and out of the kitchen, taking perverse delight in telling me how gross everything looked. And all the while I’m trying to figure out HOW THE HECK you get fresh minced ginger out of ginger root. Seriously – have you seen ginger root? That’s not even right.
I turned to find my daughter looking at me with what I suspect was the same look I had for her last week at the audition. That "I-want-to-step-in-here-before-you-crash-and-burn-but-know-that-I-need-to-let-you-just-figure-out-this-mistake-on-your-own" look. Sometimes you just have to let your parents fail. If you carry them through everything, they never learn to walk sure-footedly on their own.
In the end, there’s good news: my daughter wasn’t cast in the Caribbean island show, but WAS cast in Willie Wonka – a much better fit for her and her talents. The other good news: Pizza Hut delivers.