A friend of mine asked me a while back if Lily would like to be in a fashion show. If you know Lily (even if you've only met her once) it's sort of a stupid question. I said yes, of course she would, before I even asked Lily. I asked her when I got home though - she said yes before I even finished the question... and I backed away from her a little bit, because she looked so excited I didn't know if her tiny seven year old self would be able to contain that much emotion, and I was afraid she might involuntarily punch me in the face or throw up or something.
If I've learned anything as a parent, it's that the desire to do something and the ability to do something are two completely different things. I was happy that she wanted to do it, but since she was committed, I was worried she would see the crowd and freeze up... especially since she was going to be the youngest person in the show. We had someone come to the house to take her measurements, and she was fine, but that was easy. Next came the walking part... we had to rehearse. A couple of days before the show, we met up with my friend who was coordinating the show, and got onto the runway. Runway? Catwalk? Why do both of those sound wrong...
Turns out, it was a little more complicated than we thought. There was a back lit white curtain at the top of the runway so she could hold a pose so her silhouette would be the backdrop for the runway until it was her turn... then she had to walk, pose halfway, go to the right front, pose, the left front and pose, back to the middle and pose, and walk off behind the curtain. I did it first, to show her how to do it. I looked fabulous.
After a couple of tries she got it down - not too fast, stop at all the right points, smile, etc. She was on fire. We had two days of 'on fire' though, because it's all she talked to me about. All. She. Talked. About. On the day of the show, we dashed around a bit - the kids were at school, we worked - and I darted home to get her off the bus so she could start getting ready. We drove over, and when we went in to the prep room she was pulsing with energy. There were hair and makeup stations, a place to get changed, and most notably, dozens of high school girls chattering and putting on makeup. Thank god she slipped right into line to get her makeup done without asking me to stay with her, because the high pitched fashion show dressing room chatter was as pleasant as having someone draw spinal fluid while you're jogging, and I desperately needed to get out of there. It took about an hour to do all of the prep, take pictures of all the dresses, and do a final run through before the show - and she kept scooting from one place to the next behind the older girls while I watched from the safety of a nearby table.
Even though she was following the crowd, I was a bit nervous underneath it all... I half expected her to get on the stage and freeze up, to get hit by the spotlights, see the crowd, and lose her shit... but it was a little late for all of that. She was dressed and ready, and there wasn't a heck of a lot I could do about it, so we went on the floor and grabbed a spot by the runway.
The lights dimmed, the music started, and they started coming. Funny thing is, I never really watched a fashion show before (and never really thought I would... I mean I've seen them, just never really paid attention) and it was pretty cool. Ever person had their own thing - some were awkward and clunky, some blew kisses and twirled their dresses as they walked by, a few looked slightly constipated - and then Lily's silhouette appeared at the top (I started to sweat a little).
Now here's the thing - I think my kids can do anything. They have their flaws, I know, but they're smart and persistent, and that goes a long way... but I'm not gushy about it, and I'm sure they'll be the first ones to tell you this. I don't like helicopter, overprotective parents. I don't like parents who act like their kids are god's gift to the earth, parents who compliment their kids at every turn, and parents who really and truly believe that everyone thinks that their kids are as wonderful as they think their kids are. Because they're not, and chances are, if you're that kind of parent, your kid is probably a dick. But I digress. When I saw her silhouette, I quickly reevaluated myself as a parent. If she trips, I thought, or freaks out, or rips her dress, or falls off the runway, or pees, farts, sneezes, laughs, forgets to turn, or god forbid someone laughs - she'll be devastated. It's stupid, I know, it's a fashion show. Nothing more. But it's the first thing in a while that she's been this excited about, and I can't help getting sucked up in it.
But I know, from her first step, everything will be OK. She comes out from behind the curtain poised and perfect, with a look of Blue Steel. She walks like she doesn't notice the crowd and the lights, her eyes pan the crowd as if they bore her - just a little. She hits all of her marks, turns her head and gives up a little smile, and it occurs to me as she drifts behind the curtain that I am utterly and hopelessly in love with her.