Just trust me, and I will never steer you wrong

So after Addie's wonderful casual wear performance, we decided to go on an adventure. We were supposed to head back to the hotel to swim BUT we ended up back at the Branson Landing to get into shenanigans. (Nooooo, not us!) So we met a clown, got a puppy, ate a bag of war heads, did cartwheels down the street, and figured out someone doesn't like marsh mellows. Afterwards, we then went swimming. Well after Emery and Momma Molander returned from Emery's duties, we all regrouped to prep for the next day. Figuring out clothes, two schedules for the two girls, who has to be up when and where, along with backup plans and such. So finally before bed, I had to take Emery downstairs to run through her talent. (Emery is an amazing tumbler and gymnast. She has been performing her routine to "Hero" for the last year and she has earned herself an International Talent Title in the process.) Next bed time, and off to dream land. Wednesday, August 2. Princess of America is truly a crown with a cause. This particular morning the national queens went to a pregnancy crisis center and delivered bibs while visiting the facility. And that wasn't the only volunteering effort they completed this week. Another thing POA does differently is their award show. They have the contestants dress in opening number and perform the routine before the awards show. It's the production side's dress rehearsal and good for the moms to see their daughters on stage in their dresses more than only once. The girls were sooooo adorable! They then hand out the awards for the jr and sr divisions and then done! Each show takes about 30 mins or less. Very nice! It's easier on the girls too - I like it! Addie earned herself a 2RU in casual wear so she was very excited! She did great! Now that the day was wrapping up, time for the final fun event - the PJ movie party! Total stimulation overload so I stepped in, then stepped out! I figured I would let the girls have all the fun and this old lady would head upstairs for a moment to eat and chill. As the night wrapped up, Amy and I were wrangling the girls for bed time. Once you get one in bed the other pops out - it was like trying to control Mexican jumping beans! (Insert a bottle of Neuro Sleep). As the sleepy juice kicks in, Addie and I start to speak in sarcastic tones. (I'm telling you - she's very fluent!) Thursday, August 3 Interview day. It's the most important day of any pageant. Pageants can be won or lost right here in this very competition phase. In POA, like many other systems, each contestant only gets 60 seconds with each judge. (In POA, there are three judges.) Now being that this is Addie's first national pageant, she has had to adjust to several new things during these week. She's had to adjust to a long week of rehearsals, getting up early, extra practices with me, and having to be away from mom a little more frequently than she's probably used to. But hey, what do you expect when you work with children? You have to expect and prepare for meltdowns. You have to be ready to speak reason (though I never negotiate, I do bribe!). You have to be ready to create distraction that makes them happy. You have to always be on your toes and expect the unexpected. Addie definitely kept me on my toes this week. But all week long I've been supporting her, building her up, helping her learn and understand. I've tried to help her cope with not having mom around all day. I've tried to help her understand that only hard work brings about success. I've tried to help her make good choices and WANT to practice. And after five days, today was her break through. After a particularly trying mid-afternoon, Emery and Amy had to head off to another POA National Queen volunteering event at the Food Pantry. Addie had one assignment while mom was away: to practice walking in her evening wear. Poor baby girl was less than pleased to see her older sister leave with mom and those tears started to fall. I stepped in and gave her hugs. I tried being silly to distract her from thinking about it. I tried bribery with candy and her iPod. Nothing this time was working. I was quickly running out of ideas, so I stepped away for a moment to figure something out. I figured I would try helping her see reason. I know, what six year old knows reasoning! BUT - Addie can .... when she wants to. So we sat and had a "come to Jesus" moment. I tell her, in the best way that I can relate it to a six year old - "Addie, this week has been tough. But you've done it. It's been tough to handle such a big girl schedule and to see Emery get to do extra things with mommy that you can't. But you've done it." (She's still sobbing. It's been 20 minutes so far.) "I really need for you to put on your beautiful red dress and watch you walk in it so that if I have to sew on it, I have time to make you look perfect when you walk out on stage." (She is not having it.) "All I need for you to do is make a couple of circles in the lobby and then we can practice without the dress on BUT we HAVE to practice otherwise you won't be at your best tomorrow when it counts in front of the judges." Still crying, Addie tries to bargain with me. I figured it was now or never that I pushed back to help her grow and learn. I knew she would understand .... eventually. (Now at the 35 minute mark.) I tell her: "Addie - right now is the last time we can "practice" because we have an event tonight then you have to go to bed because Friday is an early morning. This is your final chance to perfect your modeling to be at your best. It's now or never. If you can't push hard in this last moment, you could very well come home with nothing." That was the moment I could see in her eyes that something I just said made the light bulb flicker. I waited to see her reaction in words or action. (Silence, but tears still rolling down her cheek.) She wasn't going to say anything, but I could tell she was processing. So I continued. "Addie - you love tumbling and gymnastics and you never stop flipping around because you want to have fun and get better. Pageants are the same way. If you want to win, then you have to work. If you can't work today, tomorrow may be a sad-face kind of day and your face is way to beautiful to be sad. I promise that hard work pays off and even if tomorrow doesn't go our way, you can be happy you worked really, really hard and you can come back next year. But if you quit on me today, then you have to be prepared to suffer the consequences, which could very well be you going home with nothing." Now I knew I was taking a chance but I was ready to take it because one thing you have to know about these Molander's is that they are SUPER determined people! Giving up is NOT really something the Molander's are really into. So that's why I took the risk and pushed just a tad more. I told Addie I would change into my outfit for the event later and give her a minute to think it over. So I gave her 5 minutes. When I walked back in she was sitting on the bed. A few tears still falling down her sweet, sad face. I kept thinking, 'Come on Addie, don't quit on me now, kid! I'm NOT giving up on you today!' I sat on the bed across from her waiting for her to say the first word. We sat there quietly for about another five minutes. I stared out the window but really watching her from the corner of my eye. I could hear her whisper. I didn't move nor turn toward her. She whispered again, a little louder but still quite softly. Nothing from me yet in response. FINALLY, she spoke just enough for me to hear actual words. So I turned to her and said, "I'm sorry, did you say something, I didn't hear you." Then .... she gives me a soft smile and sits straight up, clears her throat, and says, "Erin, I'm ready to practice now." Now internally at this point, I have fireworks going off in my head and I feel like the clouds have opened and the ray of light comes down with the angel babies singing "Hallelujah!" But before I go all happy-dance, I ask her: "Do you promise to really give it your all?" "Yes." "Do you promise to do it over and over as I ask so that I help you become perfect?" (Slight hesitation ...) "Yes" "Do you promise to be as strong as you can from today on out on anything we work as a team on?" "YES" "Ok then Addie. I also promise to give it my all every time. I promise to give you my best advice & to never steer you wrong. I promise to support you and give you all my love and confidence in your ability. AND I promise that I will always give you lots of reasons to trust me - that everything I do for you is the best thing I can do for you." Addie smiled at me and leaned in for a great big Addie-Bear sized hug. SUCCESS! I was so elated I gave that girl enough candy to go into a diabetic coma! But I was soooooo proud of her for getting it together and making such an adult decision that (let's face it - ) some adults cannot even do. She practiced and practiced and didn't even try to negotiate. She was a brand new kid! I was beaming! The risk had been worth it. She "got it." Working with children takes a lot of patience. It's tough at times but it's always worth it. I guess because I'm really a big kid at heart, that would be why I work so well with them. I don't have any kids myself, except for my four legged babies. But I have girls from coast to coast that I care about just as if they were my own, and I would go to the moon and back for them. For realsy .... (fist bump)