December 16: Fighting stage fright


Are you afraid of public speaking? Do you still get jitters if you have to address a large crowd???? Were you like this as a child? Big Bro is such a child. I would actually say that his shyness and fear of being in front of big crowds is a bit over-the-top.

Let me give you some examples.

  • When he turned two, his daycare had a cake for him and two other children. His grandparents were there for the festivities. During his birthday song he completely lost it and could not bear to sit through the song without burying his head in his “teacher’s” embrace while sitting on her lap.
  • At Halloween his daycare would have a costume parade and he could not Participate in the parade without crying; when seeing me or hubby he would just burst out of line and run to us
  • Similar experience with Halloween and also Chinese new year parade at daycare just last year
  • various activities or events at daycare when his “class” would sing songs to the parents – he would know all the words and be fine at practice, but as soon as the day came in front of the parents, he would just fall to pieces
  • at pre-school graduation he was to embarrassed to walk across the room for his rolled up diploma. The teacher had to walk it over to him.
  • At birthday parties with activities like basketball lessons or bowling, it either takes him a long time to warm up to the event or he simply does not participate at all.

 

 

Last year at his new daycare, he volunteered to be the starring role for a short holiday story. He practiced real hard and knew his lines and knew the acting he had to do and his teachers were so psyched about those practices. I still supported him wondering if he finally turned a corner and could be brave enough to follow through. Heart pounding, I arrived early and hid behind a separation in the room, completely out of sight in the stage area. The class came out. Big Bro took position. And then they just sat there for like 15 minutes or so until the parents arrived and the seats started to fill up. The poor little guy had to sit there with his heart pounding watch the audience build. Finally they started the program, with Big Bro in center stage – a position that he volunteered for…… His lips were being licked, his shoulders started to rise and head slump to the side like was trying to hide, and then he eventually broke down saying “I don’t want to do this anymore”. Laughter. Confusion. A stand-in jumps in where Big Bro left off. My heart sank. But I was expecting it. A part of me felt guilty for not stepping in to let the teachers know more forcefully. But I let him do it. I let him volunteer. And I let him fail. I was hopeful, but it turned out the way I knew it probably would. I went to him and told him how proud I was of him – how he worked hard at practicing and how he knew the play. How I knew that it must have been scary for him and how it’s OK to be scared. How I used to be scared too when I had those kinds of things when I was a kid. And I held him in my lap. And he watched the rest of the performance on my lap. And I held him and I was dying inside feeling like I needed to cry and wishing I could do more for him. And wishing it wasn’t so awkward when he ran off. Why do parents in the audience laugh at such things???????

Anyway, back to today. I already informed his teacher that there might be a problem with today’s performance. All 3 kindergarten classes came tougher on a tiered stage to sing 20 excruciating minutes of delightful holiday songs. His class’ line came out. He was already twisting his arms and neck. Oh no this doesn’t look good. It took another 3 minutes to get the rest of the kids up there. He immediately started to cry, bury his face in his sleeves, head down and trying to hide.

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But…. he stayed in position. They started the program quickly thank goodness. He did not at any point in time utter a word of song. He instead continued to cry in position. I sat there Frozen. Wanting to do something but also not wanting…. Wanting to see if he could pull it together. He wasn’t running off stage!!!!! He stayed in position!!!! He eventually stopped crying!!!!!! He didn’t sing, but he stayed up there with his classmates!!!!! He stood there with his head looking forward, just looking a bit zoned out and looking at the audience. Whenever he looked at me I gave him a huge smile and thumbs up and tried to mouth the words “you’re DOING it!!!!!!!!”.

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Let me tell you it was hard listening to the parents (“did he have a rough morning at home or something?”) but I was beaming for him. I met him immediately off of the side of the stage and again told him how proud of him I was, how he did a great job of staying up there, and how he did a great job of “pulling it together.”

He really has come a long way. And so have I. I am stronger for him and holding back trying to save him from these kinds of situations.

And look at his beaming face afterwards

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And look at his self portrait, brown hair with hints of red, mouth wide open and singing. 🙂

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I love him so much it hurts. And this story had to be told in full over and above the other things that happened today.

Have a great weekend Mamas!!!! Hold your little ones tight!!!!
Until next week –
– Mama K

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Comments

  1. I absolutely love the way you supported your budding thespian. I read a book last night to my 5 year old that I think your boy may benefit from. There is a series of book called the Mr. Men books and the companion series is Little Miss (both series are great for boys and girls). These books address feelings and personality traits in a humorous and empathic way. I own all of them and have read them to my kids over the years. The author is Roger Hargreaves. Last night, I read Little Miss Shy. The main character is painfully shy and this affliction prevents her from participating in events she yearns to do. At one point, she is invited to a party and so badly wants to go but she can’t bring herself to go across the street to attend. It brings her great sorrow. Two characters aid her with her dilemma. One is very outgoing and brings her out and the other is very much like her and helps her with perspective. Your Big Bro may enjoy hearing such scenarios with other characters that help him relate. My Kindergartener can’t get enough.

    • THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for this feedback!!!! I am going to go on Amazon today and purchase. What I’ve been hearing and also reading about children’s development is HOW IMPORTANT it is to develop strong emotional connections with kids and a HUGE way to do it is to be in tune with how they feel; feelings and emotions are complex especially for the younger kiddos so to the extent that we talk and talk and talk about these feelings and emotions with our kiddos, the stronger our emotional connections become with the kids and the more self-confident and self-aware our kids are of themselves.

      OMG I am so excited for these books. I’m seriously going onto Amazon right now and buying up the lot.

      • I am thrilled to have offered some helpful guidance. I hope you all enjoy the books as much as we have. Be sure to let me know if the books are a hit.

  2. Linda J. Costanzo says:

    I continue to need a tampon for my heart for Big Bro. He really tries hard.

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