My daughter Lucy had her first ballet recital recently, and yes, I cried a little and sat through the whole recital with an enormous smile on my face. This was Lucy’s first time on stage (as opposed to her sister, who recently announced that she was born for the stage), and I was so proud of her for persevering past the anxiety I knew she felt about being up there in front of all those people. Her little group practiced for months, and when the time came, she took a deep breath and took the stage, looking beautiful, graceful, and all at once so tiny and yet so grown-up.
Apart from getting to gush over my girl, it made me think about the goals we are setting for our girls, and the lessons we are trying to teach them. Do I think Lucy will become a classical ballerina? Odds are against it, but you never know. Do I think Sophie will become a competitive rock-climber or a concert-hall pianist? Again, I wouldn’t bet large amounts of money on it, but you never know. However, we have paid for years of piano lessons, and hundreds of dollars towards ballet, rock-climbing, voice lessons, art classes, a season of softball and several summers of tennis lessons. I expect before they are adults, we will have spent thousands.
Some of these classes my children chose, others were thrust upon them, but I strongly believe that in each, the importance of commitment, of perseverance was central. Every time they worked towards a show or recital or game, I hope they were learning small steps towards reaching big goals, whether or not they ever pick up a tennis racket again. Every time they saw their skills increase after hours of practice, or bonded with the other kids working towards that same goal, I hope they got a glimpse of the value of these concepts, values that will carry over into any pursuit they decide is worthwhile of their talents and fires their passion.
As we hover in this summer between one school and the next, I also hope that one major value they will gain in their new school is the opportunity to have a multitude of female role models, whether it’s one grade ahead or five, setting high goals for themselves and meeting them. The students they will see in the years ahead will be chess champions, artists, poets, engineers, dancers, athletes, chemists, actors, and scholars, but they will also all be female. To me, that’s worth a major investment in their future.