That was yesterday. Today, after the play meeting, she dissolved into hysterical tears. She doesn't want to wear a padded costume (the Gloops are a hefty family), she doesn't want to take German language classes (I tried to explain she just had to say her lines with an accent), she was upset that she NEVER gets an important part, and the ultimate insult? She doesn't think she is going to be one of the children chosen to wear a mic. (She might get mic'd but without knowing for sure I wasn't going to get her hopes up.)
Seriously. What's a mom to do? The third graders get the "bigger" parts. The kinders are going to be candy, the first graders and a few second graders are the Oompa Loompas and all the other roles are divided among the rest of the second and third graders. Marley is not the best actress or singer of the bunch. She got an appropriate role. She got a role with more lines than the previous year. But she is devastated.
This is no my strong suit as a parent. On one hand, I understand why she is upset. Getting to wear the mics is something all the children covet. She's not stupid; she knows that Mrs. Gloop is not a key role. She wants to be a star. On the other hand, every person can't be the star. There are other kids who are more talented--or at least louder. She is a part of a community and this is not the first time she is going to be disappointed with her part, whether it be on stage or in life. Do I tough love it or just lend a sympathetic ear. Do I do some combination of both?
I probably spent 10 minutes just watching her cry and feeling a combination of helpless and frustrated. Finally, I pulled out the big guns: bribery. I know, I know, it is the evil parenting technique designed to spoil your children and give them a sense of entitlement that will hinder their every relationship.
BUT (watch me defend myself here)...
This is not a common practice of ours.
This is not an everyday experience of hers.
I didn't know what else to do.
I told her that I understood why she was upset, but that the director gives out the roles and there is nothing we can do about it. I said we could talk to her teachers so they at least knew she was sad; however, her teachers would not change her role. I told her that if she cooperated with her part, practiced saying her part in a German accent, cooperated with the padded costume, and exhibited a good attitude, we would buy her a new Nintendo DS game.
She sobbed and sniffed a little more, but it wasn't too long before she started quizzing me. Could it be a new game and not a used game? Could it be any game she wanted? Could we go get it today after we ran her lines?
Great. Another dilemma. Another parental cave in. After telling her that the point of a reward is to get it at the end so that her cooperation was insured, I decided that I couldn't take looking at her tear-streaked face. I am such a sucker. (Paul will agree with me.) We compromised and she knows that if, at any point, she doesn't cooperate, she will have the game taken away. (And I know I will follow through with that--no problem.)
As I type this, she is sitting on the living room floor trying to figure out how to buy another puppy on Nintendogs: Lab and Friends. In a few minutes, we'll run through her lines again. She needs to practice saying "I vant" instead of "I want." Wish us luck!