Cait has been going through a period where’s she’s been given the opportunity to practice not over-reacting. This is not an easy lesson for a teenager. What’s been interesting to watch is that what initially seems like disappointing or bad news has actually turned out to be a good thing in the end.
The most recent example of this was when she was up for the lead in her school play. It had come down to her and another boy. They both had fantastic call-backs and it was a tough choice. The role went to the boy. Not because Cait didn’t do a smashing job, but because the part was for Oliver in “Oliver Twist.” The director ultimately decided to go with the boy for a boy’s role.
Cait was devastated. Even though she got another lead role as Bett, Oliver’s crush, she came to me bemoaning her fate. She found me in the kitchen, making dinner. “Mom, I can’t believe it! I’ve worked so hard— and this is the last chance I’ll have at this school.”
“I know this is a big bummer. And I know Bett isn’t Oliver, but I think she will still be a good role for you,” I said, continuing to chop veggies.
She flopped down at the kitchen table and her eyes welled up with tears, “Mom, I’ve worked so hard… it’s not fair.”
“Ever heard of the farmer whose only horse ran away?”
“What?” Cait looked up at me with confusion.
I sat down at the table with a bowl of green beans and gave her a bunch to snap. “Let me tell you a little story.”
Long ago there lived a farmer who had learned to live each day as it came. One day, the farmer’s only horse ran away.
All the neighbors gathered in the evening and said, “That’s so unfortunate.”
Nonplussed, the farmer shrugged and said, “Perhaps.”
The next day, the horse returned, bringing with him seven wild horses.
The neighbors once again gathered and said,” How extremely fortunate!”
The farmer said, “Perhaps.”
The next day, the farmer’s son tried to ride one of the wild horses and was thrown, breaking his leg.
And all the neighbors said, “Oh, what bad luck that your son broke his leg.”
He said, “Perhaps.”
The next day, the conscription officers came around, gathering young men for the army, and they rejected his son because he had a broken leg.
And the visitors all came around and said, “Isn’t that great! Your son got out.”
He said, “Perhaps..”
I looked at Cait and asked, “Do you know what the lesson of the story is?”
Sighing, she answered, “That things don’t always turn out the way you expect.”
“Yeah, that’s part of it. But the bigger part is that sometimes you never really know in which direction progress lies.”
Cait gave me “The Look.”
“No really, Honey,” I said, “you watch and see — I have a feeling that Bett will wind up being a better role for you in the end.”
I can’t say that Cait bought my theory at that moment, but she does now.
As it turned out, she wound up having much more fun as Bett than she would have as Oliver.
But I’m sure I’ll need to remind her before long that if she’s feeling that her “horse has run off,” she just needs to keep an eye out for the horizon to see where the next progress will come from. And that maybe, just maybe, it will be even better than what she had planned.
With all the swirls that life seems to be offering her these days, looks like she’ll have lots more opportunities to practice.