Monday, October 04, 2004

She Didn't Dance

I knew it wasn’t meant to be, but at the back of my mind, I wish it could. From the start, I was silently protesting against my wife. But seeing her enthusiasm, hard as she tried to hide it, I just can’t let myself be the one to burst her bubble. And like I said, I too, though discreetly, was hoping it might work.

Angel is only three years old. Modesty aside, many people have told us that her name really fits her. Like most parents, we taught our little Angel to sing and to dance, which she performed to our hearts’ delight. Babies are the sweetest things to watch, especially if it’s your own baby. The problem is, when we ask her to perform when there are other people around, like close friends or relative, she will either, run away, stand still or just cling to us. But she will not perform, leaving us embarrassed and trying our darnest best to change the topic. Okay, so our little Angel isn’t the showbiz type.

One day, my wife told me my little Angel was chosen by the day care to be the school’s candidate for the search for “Munting Prinsesa ng Angeles” (Little Princess of Angeles) in the upcoming town fiesta. I can’t remember how I reacted then. I didn’t say no, but neither did I say yes. My wife knew that I wasn’t keen on the idea, but it didn’t bother her. She sees it as an opportunity to show the world how beautiful and talented our baby is. A sentiment that I share with her. She also sees it as a chance for my baby to develop herself and somehow overcome her stage fright. I, on the other hand, was very much worried. The thought of putting my little darling on the spot, this time with a bigger audience, fills me with anxiety. But amidst my silent protest, my wife insisted. She said that she asked Angel if she wants to do it, to which my baby would say yes. So with less than two months before the contest, the preparation began.

The road to the beauty contest wasn’t a smooth one. For one, we can’t afford to hire a trainer that would help us train and develop my little Angel’s talent. Hence, we have no choice but to train Angel ourselves. But then again, I’m a weekend father. Being assigned in a place far from home. Coupled it with a very unsupportive daycare teacher, who compromised my baby in the first place, leaves my wife by her lonesome to prepare Angel for the contest. Juggling her schedule between teaching, herself being a teacher in secondary school, and looking after the studies of my other two sons, and training Angel and looking after the house and the children’s needs. Something is bound to give, and so it did. For one week, my wife was sick, in other weeks, my two sons alternately got sick, and Angel is sick almost every week. In fact, the day before the contest, my baby has fever. While the apathetic daycare teacher would always say, “Is Angel ready? Because if she’s not, I have someone who is ready and willing to replace her at a moments notice.” The nerve!

Anyway, Angel’s preparation would include the old cassette player playing Britney Spear’s “Oops! I did it again!” again and again and again. Which my little Angel would follow singing and dancing, in a way that only my baby could. My wife’s niece taught Angel the choreography of the song, but being the baby that she is, she would always follow her own step. And her words weren’t really clear, because she really can’t speak well yet. We don’t mind, she’s our baby. Then she was asked to memorize her introduction, which was “Mabuhay! Ako po si Angel Liza V. dela Cruz! Tatlong taon gulang! Nag-aaral sa Sta. Trinidad Day Care Center!” (Mabuhay! I am Angel Liza V. dela Cruz! Three years old! Studying at Sta. Trinidad Day Care Center!) This went on everyday until the day of the contest itself. Oh! There were also meeting and practices, together with the organizers and other candidates. The details of which, I don’t know, but my wife told me that Angel sometimes got bored, tired, stubborn, or just refused to cooperate. Well, what do you expect from a three year old baby?

Finally, came the big day! My wife, together with her sister and niece, brought Angel to the contest at five o’clock, which is the call time. The program is scheduled at six o’clock. I arrived thirty minutes later, together with my two sons. Nothing has been started yet. My baby is beginning to be impatient. My role there was to be sure that Angel keeps her poise and goes up the stage. My wife believes I’m the only one who can do that because my baby is a papa’s girl and I’m the only one Angel is afraid of. Thirty minutes past six, the program is about to start, and I’m having a hard time containing Angel. My baby is candidate number twenty-eight. Good thing, and later would be a bad thing.

The candidates were already lined up backstage, while I still have Angel in my arms. She refuses to fall in line, refuses to go up the stage and refuses to continue with the contest. Instead, she wants to go home. I tried to keep my senses, trying my best to reason with my three-year-old baby. Candidates one to ten were already up the stage, eleven, twelve, . . . I refused to push the panic button. Nineteen, twenty, . . . I was able to put Angel behind candidate number twenty-seven. Putting on my best daddy’s charm, I ask her “Angel, can you please do this for daddy?” She nods her head and we hug each other. I love hugging my baby; it’s the most sincere feeling in the world. Twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight! I rushed in front of the stage. My baby is up there! Waving to the crowd along with the other candidates. I waited patiently while the candidates introduced themselves. When my baby’s turn to the microphone came, all I understood was “Angel Liza”, “Tatlong Taon Gulang” and “Day Care Center!” I didn’t care! My baby is on the stage! My baby was seen! My baby was heard! When they marched towards the backstage, we rushed to meet her and hugged her and kissed her.

Whew! I’m glad that was over. Next will be the talent portion. But my baby is number twenty-eight. Will she be able to hold and wait for her turn? Meanwhile, friends and relatives have arrived to support Angel. Everyone wanting to hold her, hug her, kiss her, or play with her while it’s not yet her turn. As we watched the proceedings of the program, other children performed without any problem, I hope the same would be true with my baby. It’s almost nine o’clock and candidate number twenty or twenty-one is performing on the stage. My wife asked me to talk to Angel; she wants to go home. Not again! I didn’t know what happened, but Angel is cranky. Maybe her aunties and cousins unwittingly pressured her young mind by telling her to do it well. Or maybe she just got impatient and doesn’t want to dance. I took her backstage and tried to talk to her. Number twenty-five is on the stage. I asked her to do it just once and promised her that I will never allow her mommy to put her in contest like these again. It was harder to talk to her this time, but through patience and daddy’s charms, I was able to convince her.

Candidate number twenty-seven is almost finished. I kissed and hugged my baby for the last time. As they called her name, I handed her to the usherette and tried to rush to the front to take her picture. I had only taken a few steps when I heard the ushers and usherettes calling me. When I looked back, Angel was crying! What now?! I rushed to Angel’s side trying to talk to her. She’s still crying. In the meantime, the emcee keeps on calling Angel’s name, I was asking for two minutes. Then, out of nowhere, the daycare teacher came urging Angel to dance on the stage. Imagine that! My baby was crying and all this teacher could think of was the talent portion! Then came Angel’s aunties and cousins, all convincing her to perform her talent. I was literally pushed-out of the picture. My baby was crowded! My baby was mobbed! And she is crying! The talent portion was called off. My baby never got to perform her number. Then there was an intermission.

The gown portion followed. I was able to convince my baby to wear her gown, which she personally picked, and continue with the contest. She was on the stage together with the other twenty-seven young ladies. Waving and smiling to the audience, although there were still traces of tears in her eyes. We knew she won’t get anything for all her efforts, but we still want her to finish the contest. The finalists were chosen, special awards were given, until all the winners were announced. For all those proceedings, I wasn’t really concern; I just want this to be over with. Finally, it’s all over. It’s time for us to get our baby back and go home.

On the way home, everybody in our group was almost quiet. Well, not really quiet, but they were not as enthusiastic as they were three or four hours earlier. Each one trying not to talk about the contest and the talent portion. I was carrying my baby, she was happy and smiling. We were kissing and hugging each other along the way. She didn’t win, but in my heart she’ll always be my little princess. One thing we learned on that day is that, my baby’s charms, talents and wit, is only ours to behold. My baby didn’t dance. She doesn’t have to. She’s my Angel, and I love her very much.

October 24, 2001
10:00 PM
December 25, 2001
10:26 AM

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