One thing that I really had to work on during homeschooling this spring and now, into the summer, is making sure I didn’t completely slip into a habit of constant negative feedback for the girls. We are around each other so much that if I stopped and recorded our ‘conversations’ they would mostly consist of me saying things like: Stop doing that. Don’t touch this. Turn off Netflix. Vacuum up the unicorn sprinkles. No. No. No.
The negativity comes from a good and well-meaning place (here is where Ce would roll her eyes). I want to keep them safe. I want to show them how to be better. I really want a clean floor.
But I realize the constant barrage can eventually flood their feedback systems and come out not as encouragement but nitpicking criticism. For all my good intentions, that is not the way to have a healthy relationship with kids.
So this Saturday, with Michelle away most of the day, I challenged myself to be more positive. Let the little things go. Find some Jedi ways to say “Yes” even when I really mean “No.” I needed to engage with the slime rather than try to hold it at arm’s length.
I still insisted on sweeping the floor. If you give glitter one inch….
Similar to winter piano recital, the spring dance recital day is full of nerves, excitement, energy, sequins, and smiles. I’ve learned to mostly make myself scarce on recital morning. I contribute driving and logistics throughout the year but even after ten years I remain mostly useless with hair and makeup.
It’s been rewarding to watch both girls both progress throughout this year and also continue to progress year over year. It allowed me the perfect opening to opine on two of my favorite Dad subjects: the power of deliberate practice and how to deal with failure. Queue the girls rolling their eyes but I know some part of them is listening.
To develop mastery in anything you need deliberate practice. You can’t just repeat the same task over and over, you need to break it down and work on the individual parts. And not the easy parts. You need to work on the hard stuff.
Remember, failure is a key part of learning. You shouldn’t try to fail or focus on the failure itself. Instead, you should see it as temporary situation. The biggest question isn’t how or why you failed but how you respond to failure.
Are you going to let a few missing sequins ruin your day or are you going to put on a smile and take the stage?
Michelle saved me Friday afternoon. Full disclosure, she saves me at least once day, but this one was special and saved me from shaky hands, flop sweat and tears of frustration.
I spend most of the year living in fear of that specific Friday in late April where I’m in charge of costume changes and headpiece placements. You’d think I’d be better at it by this point with two girls and four recitals under my belt, but bobby pins, mascara and tulle remain opaque cosmic mysteries to me.
There’s more hope for me making successful small talk with an auditorium full of strangers than for me to correctly do dance hair and makeup, so we all breathed a sigh of relief when Michelle was able to leave work early and make it home in time to take over for me. I was demoted back to dance driver and better for it.
So if Friday night was about rehearsals, our Saturday was consumed by the recital itself and the excitement, glitter, sparkles, highs, lows and more glitter that goes with what has become an annual Saturday event.