Emily auditioned for Willy Wonka this week. Because “playing Veruca Salt” is on my fourth grader’s bucket list, this was kind of a big one for her. Sure, she is no stranger to the stage, having played parts in Mamma Mia and Sound of Music and Wizard of Oz…but this one? God, this one is tough. Because she really wants this part. I won’t lie to you, she’s good. She’s very good. I wish I could explain to you that I’m not being a biased loving mother when I say that she’s good. If you have ever seen my child perform, whether it be in our living room or on the stage, you know. She becomes whatever part she is playing, and she has one hell of a good time doing it.
Typically, with the things she does best, she is overconfident. She thinks she’s the very best dancer, the best singer, the best actress. She truly believes that life will land her on the stage (the big one. The Broadway one) or on the big screen.
What’s interesting is that she has two modes – I’m the best. I’m the worst.
What I mean by this is that anything she doesn’t honestly believe that she is THE BEST at, she automatically thinks she’s the worst. “I’m bad at math.” “I’m the worst reader ever.” “I am the worst at Hebrew in my entire class.” She says these things all the time, and yet she’s an A student. She doubts her abilities, and needs constant reassurance that she is not, in fact, the worst reader ever…because they don’t put the worst readers in enriched reading. BUT, for Emily, if there’s a reader who is better, quicker, more efficient than she is (like her brother), she is automatically the worst. For Emily, SECOND PLACE IS THE SAME AS LAST PLACE.
Usually after an audition she comes homes happy. Thrilled, even. “Oh yeah, baby. I totally nailed it!”
On Tuesday, though, she came home in tears and didn’t tell me much except that it was BAD. I couldn’t imagine how she could have had a bad audition. Emily has been singing that Veruca Salt “I want it now” song since she was about 18-months-old. I’m not going to lie to you, either. On most days, I’m not convinced that my child isn’t Veruca Salt.
After Josh and Isabella went to sleep, she snuggled in close to me.
“Was it really that bad, baby?”
“Well, I wasn’t the best at the audition…which means that I was the worst.”
“No, child, that is actually not what it means.”
“I was the worst.”
“Emily, how many girls tried out for Veruca?”
“So, even if you totally bombed the song, you’d have a one in six shot, right?”
“And those are good odds…are they not?”
“You are a good singer, right?”
“You are a good dancer, right?”
“You are a good actress, right?”
“So, I wouldn’t worry. Even if you don’t get to play Veruca…maybe you will get to be something even better. Maybe you’ll be Charlie! He has the most lines! Or maybe you’ll be Willy Wonka! Even Violet, Emily…even Violet would be fun.”
“Mommy. I know I wasn’t really the worst.”
“I know, baby.”
“I just really want this.”
“I know, baby.”
And I wish, more than anything, that I could make it happen for her. I wish I could give her the world. I wish I could lock it all up in her pocket and give it to her now.