How I Humiliated Myself at My Daughter’s End-of-Year Performance

How I Humiliated Myself at My Daughter’s End-of-Year Performance

“Eema, almost all the tickets are gone already… Do you know how many tickets I should buy for my final dance performance?”

My 17-year-old Hadas called me with this question from her Thursday-night dance class right after Passover. There was an Stock-Market-like ruckus in the background, as all the girls urgently called their mothers urging them to “Buy! Buy! Buy!” before all the seats were gone.

I flipped my calendar two months forward, and my eyes fell on this past Sunday. I didn’t know if I’d be able to find a babysitter, but this was an event I definitely could not miss. I asked Hadas to buy 3 tickets, for me and two of her sisters.

After several months of practicing and two dress rehearsals, the much-anticipated event arrived. I felt a sense of relief as I walked past the long lines at the ticket counters with my tickets safely in hand.

Around 500 proud mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and friends crowded into the auditorium.

I looked at my tickets which read: Row 2, Seats 9, 10, and 11. But when my daughters and I walked up to the front of the auditorium, we discovered that a young grandmother in an elegant flower beret was sitting there with her bags placed on our seats—as though they were hers…

“Excuse me, these are our seats,” I told her.

“No, these are our seats,” she retorted with stubborn indignation, her Hebrew French-accented and stilted.

Ahhh, a new immigrant, possibly a refugee from French anti-Semitism. But that did not give her the right to steal the seats which I had bought fair and square!

I showed her my tickets, and then she searched around her purse and showed me her own. Her tickets also read “Row 2, Seats 9, 10, and 11”!

OH NO! The idiots at the ticket office had given me and the French refugee the same seats! Maybe there would be no seats left for me to see the performance? Hadas would be so disappointed!

“Eema, eema!” my 10-year-old, Moriah, started saying, “look at this! Look at this!”

And all the anger that I felt towards the woman who had stolen our seats and the incompetent fools at the ticket office exploded onto Moriah.


“But Eema, it’s something important! Look!”

And I followed Moriah’s finger and noticed at the bottom of the ticket a small word I hadn’t noticed before:


I apologized to the French grandmother and I apologized to my daughter, and then I looked up at the hundreds of grandmothers and mothers and girls and friends in the auditorium, and realized that even before the performance had started, I had provided the entire audience with one of my own.

When I was visiting my parents in Baltimore this month, after one particularly challenging day my mother said something very wise:

“Jenny, every day is a dress rehearsal.

“No matter how terribly I messed up today, it doesn’t matter. It’s just the dress rehearsal, so who cares how badly I did?….

“Tomorrow, at the real performance, I’ll do better. By then, I’ll be a star.”



  1. Thanks for sharing so honestly. Don’t underestimate how on-edge you are because of worry about your parents. It’s especially hard to be so far away during a crisis. All your emotions are probably closer to the surface than usual.

    • JewishMom

      thank you susan, and thank you so much again for the delicious tuna casserole and couscous when I was in baltimore!!

  2. Thanks so much for that honest self introspection. I have done that in the past and I berate myself so much. I hope I’ll do better at the next dress rehearsal. You have a very wise mother.

  3. Any of us could have made the same mistake, good to see you’re human. And for what it’s worth, I didn’t notice this whole exchange in the slightest! Big hugs and wishes for a refuah shleimah!

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