The bigger disappointment

My seven-year-old daughter agreed to sing a solo for a crowd this weekend.

As her accompanist, I helped her practice. We walked through how to recover if she got lost. We played a game that gave her the feel for letting the accompanist follow, even if she skipped a line. She was ready.

Before we left home, she said she didn’t want to sing after all. She’d never sung solo before. What if she messed up and felt embarrassed?

After I heard her worries, I told her she had two choices:

  • To cancel and not have to worry about singing anymore.
  • To feel nervous and get up in front of everyone and try.

She grimaced at both. So I said:

Either one’s fine. Now imagine I just told you that you don’t have to sing, you don’t have to worry about it. I’ll just get up and play a song on the piano instead and nobody will know you decided not to. Imagine I just told you you’re not singing. How do you feel?

If she had said relieved, I’d let her off the hook.

But she said: I feel disappointed.

Sometimes we back out of what calls to us because we fear disappointment, without acknowledging that the disappointment for not following through is bigger (and more certain).

So she went. She walked to the microphone and she took a breath and she turned and nodded to me that she was ready and she sang in her clearest voice and after she finished, after we both walked to our seats, she grabbed my hand and smiled and whisper-giggled over and over:

I did it.
I did it.
I did it.

I asked her if she was disappointed that she’d done it. She was not.