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The Call Back That Never Came

Drama parents have it rough.

There's more of us now, thanks to Glee, the Disney Channel and YouTube. Every kid wants to be a star.

My 11-year-old daughter has the drama bug bad. She's tried out for four plays with Miami Childrens Theater. She's made it into the cast of two and been rejected at two casting calls. Not a bad stat for a starting starlet. But those moments spent searching for her name on an online Call Back list, only to find it's not there, have been a bit hard.

On me.

As a parent, I've always felt that it's healthy for kids to handle a few failures on their route to adulthood. Builds character, right? Everybody needs to be humbled now and then. But the sudden realization that you no longer have control over your kid's fate and that it's in the hands of a bunch of outsiders is a scary thing.

For years, my daughter has been told by me, teachers and every TV show and movie she's ever watched that if she believes in herself, she can make her dreams come true. Work hard, do your best and the rest will fall into place. It's the American Dream.

Only we adults know that isn't always the case. No matter how much you try, sometimes your destiny is determined by people and forces totally outside your control.

Life is full of Call Backs that never come – from that special guy, the college you really want to get into, that job you desperately need. The silence can stretch on and on. There's no guarantee that hard work will be rewarded. And there's always somebody out there better than you are, no matter how much you believe in yourself.

That's a sobering lesson for a sixth-grader.

We knew that last casting call was a challenge. We heard the amazing voices coming out of the theater at the Coral Gables Youth Center during the auditions. We saw all the older kids with more experience and talent. Still, she wore her audition number (47) to bed that night for good luck.

I held my breath and hovered behind her as she checked the website for the posting of callback names the next morning, even though I had already scanned the list and knew her name wasn't on it. I saw her small shoulders sag, heard the sadness in her voice. I tried to be nonchalant.

It's no big deal, get 'em next time.

I didn't want her to know I was dying inside.

Ten minutes later, she flew past me, skipping through the house in her tap shoes. What song should I sing for the next audition? She wanted to know.

How 'bout the one every parent dreads teaching her child? It's A Hard-Knock Life.

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