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Treasure of Life

By Meagan Russell
In Bayou Kidz
Jun 30th, 2022

article by Cindy G. Foust

Contestants inside for 2008 Miss America Live! Beauty Pageant, Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino, Las Vegas, NV, January 26, 2008

Happy mid-year point of 2022 to everyone in the Bayou nation. Oh, I know we aren’t really a nation, just a small community trying to live our best life… together. I hope this month’s column finds each of you and your families doing well. I myself am actually doing great, feeling great and really getting back to myself, finally. I’m even working on what I preach, which is trying to slow things down and really enjoy these dogdays of summer.

My kind of slowing down includes trips to the Farmer’s Market, dinner with friends and attending the Miss Louisiana pageant. Wait. I know attending a pageant might not seem like anyone else’s idea of slowing down, but for me, it was a relaxing few days watching some beautiful and talented young women compete for the title of Miss Louisiana. Oh. And I got to watch my daughter be a back-up dancer for the contestants. You know, it’s really no wonder that Angel Grace is such a talented dancer, with her deep family history of performers. You read that right, readers, I have been a stage performer all of my life. 

I never competed in a pageant but boy did I compete in the junior high (that’s what we called it back in the day) talent show for several years and even won the thing not once, but twice! It’s true, friends, I showed out for my talent shows. My 7th grade year, my friend Liz Jones and I, wore sundresses and used an umbrella to dance and lip sync to “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” by B.J. Thomas. I think the roots of the Lip Sync Battle can actually be traced to this performance circa 1978, although no one is prepared to give us credit for it. 

It was, in a few words, an artistic masterpiece. I think we wore matching Yo-Yo shoes (look them up on the internet if you are out of the Yo-Yo loop) and our hair in pigtails. The next two years, well, the next two years I performed as an 8th grader, with an encore performance in my 9th grade year (back when junior high went to 9th grade, and I think it still should, but that’s not what this column is about) with two of my friends (I’ll keep their identity anonymous for the sake of their current reputations) to the tune “Gitarzan” by Ray Stephens.

I’ll give you one guess who was “Jane,” and who might have worn a Wilma Rubble outfit with a bone in her hair? To quote the lyrics of that great Grammy-winning song, Jane’s “claim to fame” was her ability to sing “Baby, baby, Whaooooo Baby!” and even though I was lip syncing, I gave an award-winning performance that left the audience, especially my parents…well, speechless. Yes, Gitarzan managed to attach itself to the Woodlawn Junior High school talent show folk lore and I all I can say is PRAISE THE LORD we didn’t have video cameras back then, because I would have to live in Provo, Utah under an alias. 

But, in this day and time, there are certainly worse viral videos out there, even though my children would probably disagree if they saw it. But where was I? Oh yeah, relaxing at the Miss Louisiana pageant. While I sat and watched the preliminary performances which culminated into last night’s finals, I had quite a few thoughts about the courage it must take to get on that stage and perform. 

You fellow seasoned performers out there know of what I speak. There were a variety of talents showcased during the talent portion of the program and let me honestly say, very few nerves showed through. These young women sang and danced and played instruments and looked talented and beautiful while they were doing it. I’m not sure anyone could ever say I looked talented and beautiful during Gitarzan, in fact a gazelle that had been hit by a car might come closer to describing it. But I digress…again. 

It also occurred to me that each of these contestants must spend hours and hours getting their talent ready for the pageant and how all of that work actually culminates into a 3 minute performance. In a word…bravo. Because for all the years I spent, like many of you, on the fringe of the pageant circuit, the last few days really left me with my mouth open. The thousands of dollars in scholarship awards, the platforms that the contestants stand on and are prepared to promote, the poise and grace they exhibit as well as the talent they bless us with, really gave me a new appreciation for this art form. 

I cannot even imagine trying to walk across the stage in front of hundreds of people and a viewing audience in an evening gown and stiletto heels. Nah…I would have to dig the Yo-Yo’s out of the vintage closet for that one. But think about it, readers, whether your children perform in a pageant, a dance recital, a stage or on a playing field somewhere, it always takes courage…guts…to get out there and do it. I’ve spent years watching my kids do the things they love, ballgames, dance recitals, performances for Miss Louisiana, and it never gets old. 

In fact, I wish I could back to those live arm years on the baseball field or the recitals when my daughter would stand there with her fingers in her mouth and shake her little booty. Those days are the treasures of life and supporting our kids while they pursue their interests should give us our greatest joy. And if they end up on the college baseball field, in an NFL stadium or as Miss America, well, that would be pretty great, too. But if they don’t? Then they learn the life’s lesson that not everybody can be the winner, somebody has to go home without the crown. 

They also learn another valuable lesson in that it takes a lot of work each time they step out there for a performance. It also takes courage to brave the stage and guts to sing in front of what probably seems like a million people. In the end, the best “show” is the effort, the attitude and the spirit that goes into whatever it is that they are interested in, and we as parents, have the privileged job of watching them pursue what they love at whatever level they attain.

I know my parents did it for me, even if they wanted the ground to swallow them up when I stepped out on that stage with a bone in my hair! And like them, being in that audience or in those stands when my children are performing, is one of the best parts of being a parent and one I will never take for granted.

Cindy G. Foust is a wife, mom, author and blogger. You can find her blog at the alphabetmom.com for weekly columns about home life,  parenting, small business stories and insight with a smidgen of literacy. Give her a like or follow on Facebook and Instagram.