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I’ve had reason to think lately about the idea of meeting challenges.

One of the biggest clichés there is – and believe me, I know clichés – is that winning isn’t everything. So when my daughter stood before a crowd last week, waiting to see if she might be declared this year’s Chain O’ Lakes Festival Queen, I thought how it would be better if she didn’t win. That would build character and teach her an important lesson, right?

Heck, no.

I was thinking “I hope she wins! If she wins I’m going to buy us all the ice cream in Dairy Queen and throw a party for all her friends! Then I’m going to brag to everyone about how my daughter is the queen, thanks to the influence of her father, of course.”

She didn’t win.

The COL Festival has been around for so long that in the first parade, the horses weren’t for show – they were towing the floats. The Queen is a big part of that, but she doesn’t gain the position by talent or swimsuit competitions. (Considering how cold it was this time around, I’m sure they’re very happy not to have been showing off the newest swimsuit styles at this outdoor venue.)

It’s actually a penny per vote competition, which amounts to a fund raiser that helps defray the cost of putting on the festival. Each contestant gets two cans: One is kept at a local business, and the candidate takes the second can around, collecting money from relatives, friends, and hapless strangers cornered on the street. There were only four candidates this year, yet they collected over a thousand bucks, to give you an idea.

Near the end of the collection period I was told the business that took my daughter’s can stowed it in the back room for weeks, because their corporate headquarters don’t allow for this kind of community project. Why they couldn’t have contacted someone, so the can could be taken somewhere else, is beyond me; I drove there to ask, but they have a policy of not opening the door for any costumer who’s screaming and waving a baseball bat. Possibly I took the whole thing a bit too seriously.

Whether it would have made a difference, I don’t know – I think most of the money comes from the second can. In any case, my youngest became princess for two years in a row.

Now, I’m not speaking for her, but I suspect she wouldn’t have been bothered too much by that alone. Like me, she’s not terribly competitive, and doesn’t like to do the fund raising thing. But there’s a legacy problem: Her sister and her aunt (my sister) both became COL Festival Queens, and I think she wanted to make it a triple crown. So yes, there’s a certain amount of disappointment there.

And yet …

Well, I have mentioned that she’s a lot like me. We have similar personalities, like similar TV shows and music, we were both involved in theater and show choir, and are otherwise so much alike that she probably doesn’t like to think about it. Similarly, we’re both shy in most areas. Yes, I managed to get up on a high school stage and act badly, and she managed to hit the show choir risers and dance well, but there’s a large streak of phobia. Fear of public speaking? Check. Fear of new things? Check. Social anxieties? And how.

And yet she picked up that can two years running, went looking for votes, then stepped up on that stage along with a group of similarly fearless, goosebump covered ladies, and waited for the news.

I wouldn’t have done it. I’m terrified of trying to sell things, I hate to have to ask for help, and I’d have looked terrible in any of those dresses. I just never would have attempted it to begin with. I’d never know if I would win, because I’d have never tried.

So, there you go: Winning isn’t everything – trying is. Some of you will no doubt have to sit down and recover from the shock of such an idea.

Sure, it would be nice to write a column about how all my female relatives became queens. But the more I think about how much courage it takes for her to do these things to begin with, the more proud I am. Who cares if she’s a queen? She took a risk and met the challenge; she’s still my princess. She’s still my daughter.

And that takes courage.


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 7th, 2007 11:18 am (UTC)
The whole festival looks fun - and Jilly looks beautiful.

Funnily enough, before I read what you'd written I'd looked at the pictures and thought, 'You know she does look very like her father' - and then there you are writing about how alike you are!

And it must take a lot of courage to try to be the queen - I wouldn't have been that brave ar her age, nor at any other age. Well done that young lady.

PS to Jilly - I absolutely love your dress.
Jun. 8th, 2007 04:52 am (UTC)
She does, indeed, have that Hunter look. :-) And since I'm one of the more shy people in the family, maybe she has that Hunter courage, too. I'll pass on to her that you love the dress!
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 8th, 2007 04:52 am (UTC)
Isn't she, though? :-)
Jun. 7th, 2007 01:52 pm (UTC)
It wuld be nice to know ahead of time, as I would contribute many, many pennies. Like hundreds.

Oh well, about winning. I know she's the queen of your heart anyway, and boy, is she pretty! I LOVE that dress. Please tell her for me.
Jun. 8th, 2007 04:53 am (UTC)
I didn't even think to ask my flist for donations, since it seemed like a local thing -- I stand corrected! Although I still hope she doesn't try again next year (the stress thing, you know). I'll tell here about the dress!
Jun. 7th, 2007 03:46 pm (UTC)
I don't mean to nit pick but . . .
"Near the end of the collection period I was told the business that took my daughter’s can stowed it in the back room for weeks, because their corporate headquarters don’t allow for this kind of community project."

doesn't it be " . . .because their corporate headquaters doesn't allow for this kind of community project. .."?
Jun. 8th, 2007 04:54 am (UTC)
Re: I don't mean to nit pick but . . .
It's not nit picking, it's constructive criticism!
Jun. 7th, 2007 07:10 pm (UTC)
Aww that's a really sweet story, I'm sorry your daughter didn't win but I applaud her for getting up there and going for it! And she looked lovely
Jun. 8th, 2007 04:54 am (UTC)
Thanks! She did, didn't she?
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 8th, 2007 04:56 am (UTC)
I'm also glad she tried, much as it stressed me out.

Maybe you could have a talk with your teachers before the kiddos get that far? Pushing kids to do their best is a good thing, but comparing them to other family members is, in my experience, a mistake.
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 10th, 2007 07:36 am (UTC)
Yes, good point ... and in either case, you wouldn't want the teachers expected the exact same thing out of them.
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 8th, 2007 04:57 am (UTC)
Yep, me all proud -- she had several other relatives there too, of course, including mom and sis. :-)
Jun. 8th, 2007 02:43 am (UTC)
Beautiful and brave. Good for her!
Jun. 8th, 2007 04:57 am (UTC)
Thanks -- I'll pass it on to her!
Jun. 8th, 2007 07:42 pm (UTC)
Your title "The Courage to be a Princess" makes me think of Ozma being faced the with choice between being an anonymous farm boy or stepping forward to take on the responsibility of ruling Oz. It really does take courage to be a Princess, to put yourself out there and risk rejection. Your daughter is very brave and very lovely and I think just by competing she really showed incredible spirit and confidence.
Jun. 10th, 2007 07:34 am (UTC)
Now that you mention it, I should have used *this* icon for that story.

Of course, Tip has no idea his adventure would end with a "her" ... or maybe he did, deep down? But in any case, when it came down to it he did step up to the plate and become ruler of Oz -- despite the idea that it would mean the end of adventuring. It makes me wonder if maybe one of the things that attracted Ozma to Dorothy was that it gave Ozma and excuse to explore again?

Anyway, you're right -- Jillian is very brave! :-)
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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