By Kim Fernandez

My daughter tried out for her first high school musical last week. She rose through the performing-arts ranks at her elementary/middle school quickly and thanks equally to her ability to carry a tune and never developing a fear of rejection or spotlight aversions, by seventh grade was routinely singing solos during events.

She practiced a lot for her first ninth-grade audition and went in ready to claim a lead. This, of course, made her mom nervous on a whole bunch of levels, chief of which was what to do when her wide-eyed, freshman dream was smashed by not being cast in favor of older students. Life lesson, yes, but certainly not fun for anyone. And so I talked a lot about freshmen and juniors and seniors and about 100 kids trying out and rank order and talent vs. seniority.

She nodded to my face and ignored me behind my back (I hear this is the hallmark of healthy teen girls) and went up on stage in front of the jury of directors and sang and acted and danced like she owned the place. Twice—after the initial audition, she got a callback.

The cast list came out Wednesday night. I kept her off her phone and busy with homework and chores and nonsense requests so I’d see the list first and could try to cushion the blow as per the Mom contract. Finally, at about 8:30 that night, the list popped up on my phone. And there she was, my freshman, my fearless warrior, with a named part—not a lead, but a part—right out of the gate.

Fearless worked. The life lesson was mine to learn all along. How about that?

Kim Fernandez is IPI’s director of publications and editor of The Parking Professional.