Barb’s school is holding a play this year for the elementary kids. I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to allow her little theatrical side to shine. She absolutely loves watching America’s Got Talent, American Idol, and all the performance shows, so I went and talked to the performing arts director at her school yesterday. Apparently, we missed try-outs on Friday, but she told Barb that they had a couple spots left, allowed Barb to come to the very first practice last night where we could register, and have Barb fitted for a costume.
We arrived at 6:30pm last night and I accompanied Barb. I paid for the fee, filled out all the paperwork, entered the gymnasium with Barb, and we both took a seat.
I then realized that the kids would be doing a full read-through of the play. They will be preforming a musical based off of the movie Shrek. The Shrek soundtrack alone, as we all know, is so much fun. The costumes are going to be amazing, there will be signing and dancing, and overall, who doesn’t love Shrek!? I thought for sure this would be a (new) great experience for my little one.
Once seated in the gymnasium, I quickly noticed that I was one of the only moms who stuck around and sat within the crowd of children on the bleachers. A lot of the children were older than Barb, however, not all, but I assumed that most of the kids had done this a time or two before. They all seemed fairly accustomed to the workings of this read-through and all seemed extremely comfortable. Barb seemed a little on edge, but I sat along and sang all the songs with her that she would have a part in, tried to ease her nerves with my awful singing voice, and remind her that this was the first read-through. I think in Barb’s head, she thought all the kids would be dancing around in costumes on a fully lit performing arts stage—just as the plays we’ve went to see in the past through her school. I don’t think she quite understood exactly how much goes into putting on a musical/play.
After about an hour and a half of reading through the script, Barb decided to go and sit with one of her classmate friends that she recognized. I thought this would be a good time for me to exit the building, signaled to her I was going to walk outside, and I went outside for the last 45 minutes of the read-through to allow Barb a little freedom, and to detach from me a little.
I walked back into the building at exactly 8:55 (the read-through was scheduled to end at 9:00pm) and I walked up to Barb on the bleachers. As soon as I saw her face, I could tell immediately what was about to unfold. I sat down next to her and she buried her little face in my shoulder and wept. She kept her tears and cries muffled, and I could tell she did so as she didn’t want her school-mates to see her crying.
“I thought you left, mom…” she said through her tears.
I reminded her that I’d never leave her anywhere alone, but deep down, I think she knew that. It was the unfamiliarity of being in a new situation that she hadn’t experienced. I was her security blanket in that situation, and it was less intimidating with me sitting there–even if I was at an arm reach while she sat with her friend.
In my mind, moments prior to my exit, I felt that she was okay. Upon the beginning, she was a little nervous, but she had found a friend to sit next to, and I felt that was a good opportunity for me to step back a little bit.
With her little tears streaming down my neck, my heart sank, and I felt absolutely awful. As we exited the building, she told me she wasn’t sure she wanted to participate in the play if I wasn’t going to come with her to every practice/read-through.
I reminded her that this was a play that she was to be participating in—not me.
On one hand, I think that the experience is something that she could greatly benefit from. Theatre just seems like the natural route for my little drama queen. Barb SO has the personality for this, and I could just see performing arts as something she would gravitate to in life. She loves making videos at home, singing, dancing, etc. However, she enjoys these things from the comfort from our home… she enjoys these things with me..
However, on the other hand, I remember that feeling. I remember being the new girl to swim team, taking skiing lessons and having NO idea what I was doing, being the new girl in dance class who knew NO idea what she was doing, the new girl to 6th grade band who had never picked up an instrument in my life. My mom was strict about following through and trying new things, but I vividly remember that terror of new situations as if it were yesterday.
In my heart, I want her to experience new things, I want her to find fun outlets that allow her creative side to shine, I want her to experience life and all its glory. There are so, so many fun things to be a part of, but as with most things, unless you start a certain sport/activity at young age, you oftentimes find yourself behind, and not familiar with the crowd. We experienced something similar with dance class last year. Barb was 6 and wanted to try dance, however, all the kids in her class had been dancing since they were 3, and knew all the basics that Barb had never once heard of in her life (ie...five, six, seven, eight..) She felt like she didn’t fit, and she begged me to stop. I made her go a few more times, but after a while, I could tell she wasn’t enjoying it, it wasn’t fun to her, it made her miserable.
Last night reminded me of that same dance situation; Barb didn’t know how to read music, much less many of the lines. It was entirely unfamiliar to her.
I reminded her that we would play the CD and learn the songs. I reminded her that participating in a play is a lot of work; that you have to learn the lyrics and lines first, long before you get to put on a costume and waltz around the stage.
Why am I writing this? Because I feel bad. I am feeling a little guilty that I left her on the bleachers to fend for herself, but I also know in my heart that sometimes kids need a little push. Barb is very timid to new situations, and I am having an incredibly hard time digesting last night’s experience because I, too, remember exactly how I felt in those situations around that very same age.
The thing is, I made so many friends on swim-team, I loved going to Anaheim with my band class in 6th grade and participating in band competitions, and visiting Medieval Times as a reward. I remember those life experiences as fun, even if in the early moments, they might have been a bit scary.
I want Barb to make her own choices in her life, I want her to choose to be a part of what programs and activities that she thinks may suit her. However, she isn’t fond of the idea of my not sticking around with her. She is terrified of new experiences, terrified of change—and I also resonate with that.
I talked to Justin about it when we got home; about how awful I felt when I walked back into that gymnasium and her eyes met mine, which I knew were just seconds away from streaming tears. He reminded me that this is good for her, that this is something that she will not only love, but eventually shine bright at.
Justin told Barb he would buy her a CD player for her room (we actually don’t have a CD player in our home) to practice the music, and that seemed to liven Barb up a little bit, albeit, for the wrong reason, but still.
This whole parenting thing is tough. As Barb grows older each year, I not only see the fun, silly sides of me that she carries in her personality, but I also see the same nervous ticks that I also carried as a child, and, in all truthfulness, as an adult too.
I write this because I had to get it out. It made me feel awful, I honestly held back tears as she was crying because, I, honest to God, knew exactly why she was crying. In that moment, this wasn’t one of those times to use “tough-love” with an “Aw! Come on! This is going to be great; suck it up!”
I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know how to respond, so instead, I held her head nestled in my shoulder as she cried, rubbed her back and reminded her that new things are a little scary at first, but almost always, they end up being fun and well worth the risk of putting yourself out there in the first place.
So, keep little Barb in your prayers/thoughts. I hope she has a change of heart at the next practice, but last night wasn’t only hard on Barb, it was hard on me as her mom, because in all truthfulness, I don’t know if I did the right thing by stepping out and giving her those 45 minutes alone. I know I have to let little Barb spread her wings in life, I just don’t know at what measures…and maybe that’s something that is going to take a bit of trial and error. I suppose we will learn as a family and find out together.
Thanks for allowing me to vent. I woke up with a pit in my stomach and I needed a place to release it. As always, thank-you for reading, and if you don’t mind giving me a click on the brown banner below on your way out, I so, so appreciate it. xo- Smash