On more than one occasion, my 11-year-old niece Eva has said or done something that has reminded my parents of me. Her independence. Her occasional bossiness. Her love for nacho cheese Doritos. You know, ordinary first-born traits. (Well, except maybe the Doritos. But the fact that we share a love of junk food is not lost on anyone.)
Those déjà vu moments, though, were strongest when Eva used to demand we all watch her sing or dance on some sort of makeshift stage. “The Eva Show” was her version of the wildly popular (at least in my mind) and aptly named “The Janna Show” from my childhood, when I, too, would entertain any willing audience.
“The Janna Show” long has been canceled — though not entirely by my choice. Even my 3-year-old daughter tells me to stop when I try to entertain her with a little dance in the living room. I get it. I am fully aware that singing and dancing are not my strongest talents.
But Eva still loves being center stage. Not too long ago, I got to watch her perform in her first school musical. She played an Oompa Loompa in her school's production of “Willie Wonka.” The show was pretty awesome, and I thought Eva did a fabulous job. After the show, we showered her with flowers and took about a billion photos.
Watching Eva on stage reminded me of the first performance of hers I attended when she was just 4 years old.
It was her first dance recital. She, along with three other little girls, twirled on stage for about two and a half minutes.
To be honest, I remember dreading the recital. “Dancing With the Stars” this was not, and Eva’s part was going to be over in a blink of an eye. For the remainder of the show, I’d be watching kids I didn’t know do ballet, jazz, tap and clogging. Yes, clogging. The Irish kind. Argh.
Surprisingly, the recital as a whole was really good and filled with wonderfully cute moments. But Eva’s performance (and I fully admit my bias) was the best. From the moment the stage lights went up, she was so proud, so confident. You could tell she loved every second of it.
But when we made our way backstage to congratulate her on a fine performance, Eva was visibly upset.
Did one of the other girls, jealous of her obviously superior talent, say something mean? Did an evil stage mom, afraid that Eva would upstage her daughter in a future performance, somehow poison her?
Hardly likely, I know, but my imagination tends to immediately jump to the overdramatic, made-for-TV conclusions.
I’ve seen enough movies on Lifetime — I know that terrible things can happen backstage.
“What happened? What’s wrong, Eva? Are you OK?”
Eva’s dad Jess just shrugged his shoulders. He didn’t know.
We offered up high-fives. We offered her hugs. We presented her with flowers. Eva still was upset.
It was kind of a bummer, because we wanted to get a few more pictures of Eva in her costume before we went home.
“Eva, do you want to go back on stage so we can take some pictures of you?” my mom asked.
These were the magic words Eva wanted to hear.
The tears dried up immediately, and we could hardly keep up with her as she ran back toward the stage.
She wanted more applause, more time to be the center of attention.
I totally understood then. And I’m not going to lie — it’s still true today, for Eva and for me. When you do something cool, you want to be noticed, to be applauded. Good thing our family is completely willing to indulge our egos every once in a while.
Like mother, like daughter?
In our case, it’s like aunt, like niece.