Once upon a time there was a little girl…
Reta Jean just knew she was meant to be a princess. She loves all things pink and sparkly. Her mom and dad let me sign her up for a natural pageant, and she was ready to show her stuff.
The entry forms included questions about her favorite things and hobbies. Reta Jean’s favorite foods are marshmallows and ice cream, and her hobbies are dancing, jiu jitsu and working in the garden with papa. She also likes to cut her own hair. Which she did just 2 weeks before the pageant. A big chunk on the top of her head. Right against her scalp. In retrospect, none of these things sound very princess-y, but Reta Jean wanted to be a princess, so we did what we could to make it happen.
While waiting for the pageant to start, Reta Jean didn’t want to hang out in the dressing room with the girls. She came out to the auditorium and immediately started practicing her jiu jitsu on the mats hanging on the wall. Dad got her to stop beating up the walls, and she decided to dance instead. Did I mention her favorite TV show is “So You Think You Can Dance”? Yep, and her favorite style, right now, is break dancing. Everybody else may think she’s rolling around on the floor, but she’s DANCING! Before heading back to the dressing room, she finally showed me her “pretty feet” pose. She’s been practicing, and is quite good at it, for as long as she can stand still.
For the opening number, all the girls criss-crossed on the stage to their spots, then all they had to do was stand still and smile. I tried to get a picture of Reta Jean standing still, but that just doesn’t happen. She was so happy that things were finally starting, she kept dancing and waving.
Then, it was back to the dressing room to get ready for the beauty portion. Mom and I helped, but Reta Jean picked out everything she was going to wear. She loves her pretty pink dress and fancy white shoes. Mom tried to cover her almost-bald spot with a head band, but it just didn’t work. It was better to just let her wear it down and let the short spot blend in. In reality, it just made her hair look a bit thinner. She’d be on the stage and the judges probably wouldn’t see the top of her head anyway. Hopefully.
We had our hands full keeping her off the stage before it was her turn. We let her walk around the hall to keep her occupied and barely dodged a meltdown. She REALLY wanted her turn on stage.
It’s always hard to get pictures of Reta Jean because she is in perpetual motion. It seems like even when she’s still, she’s “vibrating.” Whirling dervish, Tasmanian Devil, Hurricane Reta. Those all suit her just fine. Walking slowly for the judges? Not so much. She hopped onto the stage and introduced herself. “I’m Reta Jean. I’m 3. Oh, I’m 2.” And she was off!
She skipped to her first mark, then monster walked to her second. The slow turn at the front mark? That turned into a dance spin with Mom.
For her exit, we had practiced blowing a kiss and waving with two hands. Apparently, that wasn’t enough to capture how excited she was. She jumped up and down, blew multiple kisses, and had to be coaxed off the stage by Mom, while she continued to wave at everybody. We just knew she was going to win for Best Personality, if nothing else.
Once Beauty was over, we watched the exiting queens, and had one more of many “10 minute” breaks, while we waited for crowning. She rested with some cookies while the exiting queens were presented, then couldn’t be still another minute. She was off and running around the back of the auditorium with the boys.
Once the stage was available, she was right back up there. There were stage lights to check out, dance moves to practice, and excitement to burn off. No sitting quietly with Mom and Dad for our Reta Jean.
Finally, it was time for crowning. Fortunately, her group was first. This is when we learned they had a category for “Best Poise,” not “Best Personality.” No shot there. The kid has no fear and no inhibitions. And, apparently, no poise. And that’s perfectly OK.
She won a Princess tiara and participation trophy. And…ready for this? Best Hair! I agree! Even with a chunk missing, there’s no beating her fabulous curls. She was hot, sweaty and exhausted, and THRILLED with her awards.
While Reta Jean had a wonderful time at her first pageant, I don’t think the pageant world is ready for her. Pageant girls are beautiful and well-behaved. And still. And poised. If they had categories for Best Laugh or Most Sparkly Personality or Bounciest, Reta Jean would be a shoo in. Like so many wonderful little girls, Reta Jean is a sparkly peg, and will never be contained in a round hole.
I have no doubt she’ll find her stage someday. And she’s going to fill it with love and magic and sparkles. Because she’s Reta Jean.