*UPDATE* This is a post intended for last Friday but is still applicable even a few days later as things are not much better.
Sometimes you just have to be quiet. Such was the case this morning when driving my oldest daughter to school.
Over the last day or so she has covered the full emotional spectrum. Her team won the State championships for indoor high school track and field last week. As a result of their placement at the meet in particular events, they qualified for the national championships to be held in New York in a little over a week. She found out the other day she was selected to run in the 4×400 relay.
There was a problem. She also had a dance competition scheduled that same weekend. As we started to work through the schedules, it looked as if she would be golden. She was thinking the track events would be held on Saturday as has been the case in the past. All of her dance routines were scheduled for Sunday so there was no conflict and she’d be able to do both. I can’t explain the pure joy and excitement I saw on her face. She was literally floating on air and all smiles. Not only was she selected to go and run in the race, but it was all going to work out for her, for once. She couldn’t stop talking about it. She was glowing. Talking about the bag she was going to get, their new uniforms, how she would get to hang out with her friends, how she would get to run with some amazing athletes, how it may never happen again since nationals is so hard to get to.
As more information trickled in, it became clear that her event was to be held on Sunday. Her joy turned to worry. We went into full logistics mode to see how we could still make it happen. Her track event was scheduled for late morning on Sunday. She had multiple dance routines scheduled throughout that morning. I was prepared to execute a long distance rescue to get her and rush her back to the competition so she could still dance that afternoon and evening. We tried moving the routines, working with the choreographer to see what options we had, etc. Nothing was working and it was quickly settling in that our hands were tied. If she couldn’t make dance, the choreographer would scrap the dances and her dance teammates would not get to compete, not to mention the parents would be out of money they’ve already paid for those particular routines. She was going to have to go to dance.
Her joy had now turned to devastation. Our feelings as parents were just as bad. You try as hard as you can to do everything for your kids and let them experience all they can. Especially when those truly unique moments present themselves and you know you may not get another shot. Unfortunately, sometimes you can’t pursue those things due to the impact you’ll have on others. It is a tough spot. Let her experience perhaps a once in a lifetime experience but have her dance team suffer, or have her go to dance and miss out on an amazing experience with her track team. It’s a lose/lose situation. Seeing your daughter hold back tears only to finally give in and cry is one of the worst things you can experience as a parent. This isn’t a cry like when they are 8 and don’t get to go to their friend’s house for a sleepover cry. This is a true cry of stinging frustration, disappointment, and utter despair.
As a parent, you can try to console them and try to explain how this could happen but at the same time you are just as devastated and frustrated. You feel like a failure for not being able to pull off the miracle save.
So, this morning, driving her to school, as I’m catching glimpses of her staring out the window, eyes welled up, on the verge of emotional collapse…I kept my mouth shut. The smallest word, a simple phrase, or any comment would’ve pushed her over the edge and opened up the raw emotion that was just under the surface. In those situations, you just have to be quiet and let the pain ease as much as it can naturally, if that’s possible.