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Bragging On My Beautiful Daughter

May 12, 2022

As you may know, last month the Pleasant Grove Strawberry Days royalty was chosen. And try as I might, I think a little of my bias might have come through in my writings last month. See, my lovely daughter, Ruth, was competing in the Miss Pleasant Grove pageant. And, not surprisingly, I definitely had my favorite. The pageant was held at the high school auditorium. 

As parents of a contestant, we were invited to come down on Friday to watch the rehearsal. It was inspiring to see the way the girls focused on the directions and the timing and choreography. And, of course, they were all nervous. It’s tempting to think that a pageant is just a “beauty contest.” It’s much more than that. We had some idea of what is involved. Not only does the previous Miss Pleasant Grove, Hailey Howe, live in our neighborhood, my lovely wife was in a pageant when she was younger than my daughter is now. We stayed for part of the rehearsal. Our oldest daughter was Ruth’s assistant. They spent a lot of Saturday getting hair and makeup done. 

On Saturday we showed up like everyone else at the high school. The contestants in a pageant are judged on multiple tasks. And interesting, “beauty” isn’t one of them. They did an interview prior to the night of the pageant. The pageant opened with a combined number with the contestants and Hailey Howe. Then, the girls each performed a talent. And these young women are definitely talented. We were treated to a fiddle solo. Not just a violin piece, an actual fiddle. The crowd definitely got into it. 

There were dance numbers. I can’t think of anything more vulnerable than dressing in a dance outfit and then dancing in front of a crowd of several hundred people. And they were brilliant. One young lady did an explanation of a painting. There was poetry reciting. But, none of them compared to the singers. Maybe I’m partial. But, my daughter totally killed it. She sang a Beyonce song, “I Was Here.” 

I was here, I lived, I loved, I was here

I did, I’ve done, everything that I wanted

And it was more than I thought it would be

I will leave my mark so everyone will know I was here

It was quite an emotional moment for this father. Yes, my little girl, stood up there and belted her heart out. And she was by far the best of the talented group. Was I biased? Sure. But, she really was wonderful. 

The young women also had a portion of the program where they talked about their charity work. Ruth’s program was “Every Kit Counts.” She was collecting for humanitarian aid kits. Some went to Ukraine. Some went to locations in the United States. I think some went to locations in Utah. After describing her volunteer program each young lady was asked a question. They weren’t informed of the questions beforehand. It’s one thing to practice a speech you’ve prepared. It’s another to have to think on your feet and answer questions off the cuff. 

The question that Ruth was asked was something like, “How can you encourage others to be their best self?”

Her answer was brilliant. “I can help others to be their best self by being my own best self. I can show that that it’s okay to be genuine by being genuine myself.” There was more to her answer. It was more more insightful than I’m being able to remember. And she was confident and poised. By far the best response. 

The final event was the evening dress event. The contestants walked around the stage, pausing at certain spots. It was the closest thing to a “beauty” portion. I should explain something about my daughter. She’s. . .not tall. In fact, she’s remarkably short. She has been since the 7th grade. But, she’s also very fashion conscious. She’s been wearing high heels since she was 12 years old. Not all the girls had that much experience. And if you’ve been walking in high heels for eight years, you are going to have a much easier time gliding around the stage. 

And that was it. After those three events, it was time for the judges to make their decision. 

There’s something else you should know about my daughter, she was born in Haiti. She was adopted when she was about four years old. Black kids in Utah kind of stand out. When she was in the second grade we moved from the south side of Pleasant Grove to the east side. It meant our kids switched from Central Elementary to Grovecrest Elementary. Ruth came home from school one day and said, “Daddy, guess what?”

“What sweety?”

“I’m running for class representative!”

Each class elected one person to represent their class in the student council. I was nervous. She was the new girl. And she was a minority. 

“Good luck, sweety.”

I didn’t want her to be disappointed, but I also didn’t want her to not try. That’s one of the hard things about being a parent – giving our kids opportunities, but also recognizing that they might be disappointed. 

I was thinking about that second grade election as I sat in the high school auditorium last month. The judges had made their decision and it was time to call the names. 

“Your second assistant to Miss Pleasant Grove for 2022 is. . .Ruth Bliss.” 

And they put a tiara and a sash on my little girl and I don’t remember anything after that. 

Oh, she also won the election for second grade class representative too. 

I should have never doubted her. 

Congratulations to all the young women who competed. And to the new Miss Pleasant Grove and the first assistant, whoever they are. 

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

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