My 13-year-old daughter was the star of the show this weekend in a children’s theater production.
Her name wasn’t exactly at the top of the credits in the program. It was a few people down, but I know she was the star because she’s my daughter.
I suspect the people whose children were at the top of the list with the biggest parts agree, and the people with the smallest parts also agree: Your child is always the star, no matter what’s going on around them.
It’s a skill called “selective attention” that we all use in our day-to-day lives. Even in a large crowd of people, we’ll pick out the ones we really care about. Our brains have the best zoom functionality in the world, with the ability to single a thing out among any distraction.
It’s how, in a Christmas play, you can claim to have heard your little child’s voice in the cacophony. It’s how you can quickly find yourself in a photo of a lot of people. It’s how you find your luggage after you get off a plane.
Parents have a remarkable ability to focus closely on their children and ignore the rest of them.
And it’s how I know my daughter was the star of the show over the weekend.
She was funny and animated as a food-obsessed part of a lead character’s group of friends. I knew where she was on stage every time she stepped out there.
It’s the same reason she always seems like one of the best players on her teams — to me, at least. I have absolutely no objectivity when it comes to my children.
And frankly, as a parent, why should I?
Childhood is the best time in your life to experience different things and see what you like or what you’re good at doing. It’s a time to try and occasionally fail at things.
I worry that in our quest to teach children how to be successful we frequently don’t give them the room to fail. You learn so much more from your mistakes than your successes.
And there’s no better time to take a big swing at life than in your youth, when you know your parents love and support you. Their ability to be hyperfocused on their child also helps them give good advice on how to do an even better job. (Although as someone who has coached each of my four children in some sport, the corollary to this is no child wants to listen to her own parent. You’re better off having another coach give them the same advice you would’ve.)
Adulthood will hit them soon enough, where they’ll have fewer cheerleaders and fans that love them regardless of their visible contributions. We find ourselves helping our older children figure out what’s their “thing” and what isn’t.
But for now, as long as we can, we’re just happy to be superfans of the star of the show, even if we’re the only ones who notice it.
David Trinko is editor of The Lima News, a division of AIM Media Midwest. Reach him at 567-242-0467, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.