My daughter had her first-grade play last night. After what felt like a disaster at my son’s first-grade play, I wanted to make sure this one went smoothly. I took what I learned from my son’s play to make sure my daughter’s was a success…for me.
As the parent of a second child, I sometimes feel mine gets gypped. When all of those first experiences happen with your first child, you run through every extreme of emotions in a way you never thought possible. That first child that you waited forever for? All eyes were on him. The first day of kindergarten? Two weeks worth of tears finally cleared up my battered heart.
When my second child was born, I was breathless. She was a beauty. But I couldn’t help but be concerned about how my son would react. Her first day of kindergarten? Not a tear. I knew what to expect and I held it together. I could be excited with her.
As a second child myself, I never really felt gypped. This gives me hope.
But there are some ways that being the second child is a good thing. Like when I screw up something with my son, I make sure I nail it for my daughter. It’s like having a second chance at my parenting shortcomings.
When my son had his first-grade play two years ago, his teacher instructed us to arrive at 6:30. We did. Everyone and their grandmother and aunt, uncle, and cousin already had a seat in the school’s tiny cafetorium. We had to sit in the very back. During my son’s first, and I’m quite certain last, square-dance performance, I couldn’t see a thing. I even stood up. My daughter kept repeating, “I can’t see.” I couldn’t either. I could only tell my son later what a great job he did, and I couldn’t even be sure.
It had been a miserable evening for me. A late arrival. I had busted the heel of both shoes the moment we arrived and left a trail of rubber crumbs everywhere I went. I feared the entire heel would fall off in one big chunk and walking took extreme caution. I couldn’t see my son in the performance he had talked about for weeks. I fought a huge lump in my throat.
My saving grace was that someone recorded the play and gave me a copy a few weeks later. I never told my son that was the first time I was seeing his performance.
When my daughter performed, I was not going to allow a repeat. We would arrive an hour early for seats up front if we had to. And we did. Third row. We made faces at our daughter. I recorded her speaking part between the heads of the people in front of me. I got to see her every move, every toothless grin.
Finally, I nailed it. And I even wore shoes that didn’t crumble.
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