Monday, March 17, 2014

Stage Fright

Anna June's teacher sent me a text this afternoon. She asked if I could come pick AJ up early, as she was very upset.

Evidently, at talent show practice, AJ got a major case of stage fright and started crying before the music even came on.

I never even truly encouraged her to sign up for the talent show, but she wanted to do it. She couldn't decide which talent to showcase, but she decided she would do a dance, which she would choreograph herself. Again, not my idea. She chose a blessedly short song, and we rehearsed a few times. She selected a costume. She attended school rehearsals. We sent her music, properly labeled, to be downloaded to the official talent show laptop.

The worst that could happen, I thought, was that she would go on stage and be adorable for 2 minutes, get applause for the effort, and then it would be over.

Instead, she freaked out and dropped out.

She said she was so upset because she thought I would be mad at her for quitting. (Astutely, she claims she knew her dad would understand.) I told her I had nothing invested in this. Now I don't have to go, which is good since my schedule is nuts this week. I told her the point was to have fun, and if it wasn't fun for her, I did not want her to do it.

But I don't like quitting. It doesn't fit with what I am trying to teach my child (although I seem to quit things all the time). Resilience and effort and courage are what I want to demonstrate for her, and see her adopt.

It is universally accepted that the dance lessons I took were quite good for me. I would have loved a talent show. But AJ has had a completely different childhood than I had, though life is being lived in more or less the same place.

She is only six. I don't want her to feel like she has to drag her introverted self up to the stage and dance when she has nearly no formal training, and would not listen to my suggestions at all when it did come time to practice. The endeavor was doomed from the start. But I hate the idea of an un-honored commitment.

Mrs. Greene, the teacher who accepted AJ's tearful resignation, met me at the car when I came to pick her up and said gently, "Maybe next year."

In the back seat, AJ said, "Maybe never."

And that's OK, too.


Anonymous said...

(break my heart.......) Well. It is clear that she WANTS to do things like this....but she wont , if her little sad experiences prevail. She is at an age where she could really start benefitting from REAL lessons--what ever that may be. But she is also old enough to understand that being good at something takes lessons and lots of practice. And that her classmates and age mates are doing those lessons AND the practice, too. I guess that she'll indicate when she is ready for something like that-----just so she understands that other kids are doing this , and are getting good. ANd my offer stands to pop for any lessons she is interested in. ( I wish for the millionth time that I lived down there to be able to help in the ferrying around stuff......)Sigh. She is so sweet.

Laura Gallitz said...

We will talk with her more about doing lessons - she wants to take all kinds of things, but she doesn't want to put in the work. She liked swimming and I think she misses it, but you can't do that on the stage (and I think that's one reason she liked it). I honestly don't think that she didn't believe she wasn't good enough - she just got freaked out that hundreds of pairs of eyes would be watching her.

Money is not an issue - time is. She gets over tired very quickly and we all feel the effects. I have told her that she can do ONE thing (dance, baseball, soccer, swimming, violin, piano, Girl Scouts, whatever) and she has yet to pick something. We're enjoying our free Saturday mornings right now. She is already rarely home as it is. I want her to have opportunities but only if she wants them.

You are of course welcome to move here at any time.

The main issue was that I had to leave work AGAIN because she was having a bad day. She wasn't sick. She wasn't in any danger. She just was upset. I think she understands now that I can't just up and leave - I brought her to the office with me so she could see me in action - phone ringing, visitors coming in, urgent emails to be answered. While I do enjoy a certain degree of flexibility, we can't always stop to go dry tears. I know it was serious to her or her teacher wouldn't have called, but we have to work something out to where she can tough it out for a couple more hours. If it had been an actual emergency, there are plenty of folks who could have stepped in, but no one has actually ever died of embarrassment.