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Mommy#039;s dear little princess

Flickers of iridescent color splash against the walls of the backstage area. An exotic rainbow of sea foam mist, bubble gum pink and candied coral gently curves around the hallway, and the excited whispers of the little dreams echo down to me as my daughter and I await our turn in line.

The ice-blue color of her dress makes the vibrant blue of her eyes shine even in the dimly light waiting area, and the sight of her waiting and watching with the awe of the moment in her eyes is an impression I will hold dear in my heart.

A buzzing hum stirs the air, as the emcee makes the introductions.

The excitement is so great that many moms, including myself, have to patiently explain why we must wait our turn. One by one, the mother/daughter pairs make their way through the T.

Center first. Now, right. Then left, until we all make our way tot he last "X" for one final smile.

As we await the results, the moms gather in a circle to discuss the events of the last hour.

"This is the fourth pageant my daughter has been in," said one mom. "She always places."

"This is the first one my daughter has done," said another mom. "I don't know if we'll do another."

Watching and waiting, I survey the small group. Moms with daughters in $500 dresses and moms with daughters in borrowed dresses discuss the pros and cons of the pageant world.

I've heard discussions that sway from one extreme to the other and my philosophy is very simple. If they love to do it, let them. That goes for every extracurricular activity for all children.

Being a working mom, I often feel very guilty for the time that I have to spent away from home. There is so much that a parent misses when they have to leave home and travel back into the workplace.

Pageants are a gateway into a fairy tale land where everyone wears beautiful dresses, shiny shoes, and frilly socks. For us, pageants are nothing but a great big opportunity for us to play dress-up, a way for mother and daughter to bond. For a little girl who lives in dresses, trips to the dress shop are the equivalent to father and son fishing trips. Those trips, for us, are heaven on Earth wrapped up with ribbons and bows.

As the door opens into the waiting room, a collective silence fills the air.

The woman, as if tired by the event, takes a breath and says, "When I call your number, please line up on the stairs." "Number 5, number…"

Ora claps her hands in delight after hearing her number called. After all the numbers were called, the four of us slowly make our way onto the stairwell. One by one the awards are called out. Even though we only placed as second alternate, the evening is one that, I hope, will plant itself in the back of her mind and bring a smile to her lips in the years to come.

Congratulations to all the winners of the Miss 24th of June Pageant held in Florala on Tuesday, June 25 and Thursday, June 27, but most especially to the winners of the Toddler division: Photogenic winner Miss Lauren Alyssa Terrell, the two-year-old daughter of Al and Lajeana Terrell of Daphne, second alternate Miss Ora Jocelyn Nelson, the two-year-old daughter of Jay and Stephanie Nelson of Lockhart, First alternate Miss Kirsten Faith Etheridge, the 3-year-old daughter of Randy and Jennifer Etheridge of Evergreen, Toddler Miss 24th of June Alyssa Michelle Rogers, the 3-year-old daughter of Sidney and Amy Catoe of Andalusia.

Stephanie Nelson is a regular columnist and a former Lifestyles editor for The Andalusia Star-News.