I was walking into the dance school office to pay our daughters' tuition and order some sweatshirts for a Christmas performance. The girls had just finished their first rehearsal, and I was grateful that the office was open on a Saturday. That's when I saw and heard her, standing, hands on hips, and screaming at the dance coordinator.
"You'd think that since this is a ballet school that my daughter would have time on stage dancing. She auditions! She obviously performs well because she is offered a part! But this?! This is not a part! This is ridiculous!"
The woman was youngish, thin, dressed in a way that suggested wealth and power, and probably pretty if her face wasn't contorted with anger. The dance coordinator answered her raving calmly.
"I think this is just a misunderstanding."
"It's not a misunderstanding! This is misrepresentation! My daughter works hard daily! I expected her to get a better part. But after this rehearsal I can see this is a farce! How long is she going to be on stage? Two minutes! My daughter is extremely disappointed! Extremely disappointed!!"
The coordinator spoke calmly again.
"Every dancer cannot be center stage and have a major part. I'm sorry if this is not what you expected."
Obviously the woman did not hear the coordinator.
"My daughter studies ballet! She should be doing ballet! Am I out of line? Am I out of line!?" The question was rhetorical for she did not wait for an answer. I briefly thought of interjecting a "Yes! You are out of line and a bit loud to boot", but the conversation was not my business and besides, she wouldn't have heard me anyway.
The woman continued to rant, arms waving wildly, as I finished my business in the office and left. Do you want to know what the part was that this prima ballerina's mother thought so unworthy? The ballerina, just five years old, was cast as a ‘happy cloud'. I'm not kidding.
Although I felt sorry for the coordinator, the one I really pitied was the child. I wondered if Mother had ever told her ‘no'. What would happen the first time the world said ‘no' after years of Mother only saying ‘yes'? What would happen during this girl's SAT test? Her first job interview? Those other situations where Mother could not rescue her? Would she ever know the joy of hard work and yes, even the taste of mediocrity before success? And would she resent her mother later, not knowing if any of her successes were really hers?
Of course I'm assuming a lot here. I am not privy to this family's private life and dynamics. It is certainly possible that this is an isolated incident, but I doubt it. At minimum the outburst indicated an extremely unhealthy attitude.
I wanted to lean over to the mother and suggest that she be patient, that while it is difficult, that she should let her daughter earn her spot after much time at practice so that she would deserve it and truly appreciate it. (I also chuckled over the irony of this child being cast as a ‘happy cloud' when a severe storm was obviously brewing.)
In pondering this situation I realized that sometimes I am like that mother. No, I do not go around demanding things for my children, but I often act that way towards God for myself. From an early age I had a timeline of my life in mind. By this age I would do this. By that age I would have that. I prayed for success and completion of my plans. But God had other ideas. He knew that if I got exactly what I wanted before I had worked hard that it would be detrimental to me in the long-run. He knew that I was not ready even though I thought I was.
And so I struggled through early parenting issues, through first attempts at writing, through balancing the housework with being a loving parent and spouse. Those struggles strengthened me, made me a better person.
Life is a dance, you know….with God, with ourselves, with others. We learn to give. We learn to take. We learn that sometimes God says ‘yes', sometimes ‘no', and sometimes ‘not yet'. One lesson of this dance called Life is to learn that we're not entitled to everything. Sometimes we have to work hard and, with a happy spirit, just wait and see.