We set out to perfect "Fight Song". She already knew it, we just had to make sure that she was performance ready. The try-outs came, she performed what is a powerful song, along with 4 other soloists who were also singing their rendition of the same song! I'm not sure why I was surprised? Thinking back it was not a good decision for the very reason that the song is so popular. Anna was asked if she wanted to sing "Fight Song" in a group. Her eyes grew wide, the size of saucers, "No way am I singing in a group, Mom." "I am singing a solo." We left the room immediately planning what song she would sing next. Within minutes, Shakira's "Try Everything" from the most adorable movie, Zootopia, came to mind. A song with a difficult rhythm, she was eager to learn.
See, it isn't that she is the next American Idol, and it isn't even that she wants to be a singer (although she does like to be on stage, she has a love and affinity for drawing). Anna just loves adventure. She has an amazing imagination and she is by all accounts, a true extrovert.
That said, underneath the many layers of comedy, laughter, smiles and confidence, are also layers of extreme emotion. I'm not sure that Anna would want me to share the details, in fact, I know that she wouldn't which is why I won't. Let's just say that Anna is the most spirited of my bunch. Her emotions run away like a freight train, but only at home. Sometimes, the train is moving so fast it's out of control and it's very difficult to put on the brakes. Even with my education, my on the job training as a school counselor, the many years of working successfully with students-it still doesn't prepare you fully for the experiences that you go through as a parent. I don't know how to explain it, it's just different. I'm still learning what works best, what doesn't and quite honestly I've had many moments where I have thrown up my hands and given it up to God. There are moments when my mind gives up, but my heart knows to keep going. There are moments when I would rather shut the door and I'm pretty sure I've done this, because I just needed a time-out. I've needed a Hail Mary-the last ditch effort kind and the actual prayer kind, too. When I would work with parents I would often hear them say, "I've tried everything". Though it's easy to feel this way especially when we are at the end of our rope, it's simply not the case. "Tried" is not the proper word-it's "Try"-meaning, there's always more, there's always different, there's always another way. I am not afraid to reach out and ask for help. As quickly as the train runs and is sometimes a blur, we are learning from each other how to slow it all down. Try Everything.
Cue my tears when the lyrics to Shakira's song says, "Nobody learns without getting it wrong". Anna's struggle in school has been with Math. It's never been my strength and has always been a source of anxiety and self-doubt for me. I've made a point to not let my insecurities with Math pass along to any of my kids. I don't want her to feel as though she has to hide because she might have the wrong answer or that others might laugh-it's what I did. When Anna was Star of the Week in first grade, she told everyone her favorite subject was Math. I think Math for her is a lot like singing. It isn't that she wants to be a mathematician, it's that she loves to give something her all. When Math became increasingly frustrating for her, I began to see similarities in the way that I attempted to cover up the fact that I didn't understand. I was sad to see that her usual confidence was slowly chipping away. Having Anna tested for a learning disability was one of the best decisions because she now has the help that she needs and has regained her confidence. She knows it's okay to get it wrong and she's not going to give up. Try Everything.
Earlier, when we were getting ready for the show, Anna asked me if I wanted her to sing the song perfectly. I told her that it didn't have to be perfect, just to do her best and to have fun.
It wasn't perfect. The music didn't start correctly and she had to work to get back on track a few different times, but she kept going with heart and determination.
This girl. We've got quite the road ahead. She was 2 going on twelve and every teenage year after. She'll be 8 going on eighteen at the end of the month-ah, the tween years.
Open the flood gates as my heart filled with intense pride and happiness when Anna took the stage for the big show. When we first practiced she stood there like a deer in the headlights. By dress rehearsal, she had the volume. By the in-school show (that not everyone gets to do) Tatum's TK teacher told me that she and Anna's Kindergaten teacher loved her performance. By tonight's performance, Anna had big smiles, her own signature fist pumps complete with an unexpected bow at the end. Try Everything.
As the song lyrics say:
"Look how far you've come, you've filled your heart with love, baby you've done enough take a deep breath. Don't beat yourself up, don't need to run so fast, sometimes we come last but we did our best." It's a song for Anna, it's a song for me. It's a song for us as mother and daughter. On the days I don't feel I've done well enough, on the days she feels like a runaway train, on the days we don't feel like there's more, there is. Try Everything.
The email at the end of the day from Anna's 2nd grade teacher said, "Wow! A note to celebrate Anna today! She did a fabulous job in the talent show today. Way to go!" That she did.
Today, we celebrate.
Tomorrow and always, we'll Try Everything.