Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Stage Fright

Ok, so Will had his Christmas program at preschool on Sunday, and like the two programs from last year... he failed to attend. Actually, he did attend, he failed to participate. Actually.... he did participate for 3.5 seconds, then he panicked, then he crumpled, then he left. Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.

It never ceases to amaze me (and apparently everyone else that has met him) that Will can't perform on stage. As his classmate's mother told me yesterday, "he so loves to be the center of attention any other time." (Hmmm, wonder where he gets that?) Anyway, I quipped back, "Well, he just prefers to perform in smaller, more intimate venues." We both chuckled that "silly little kids" laugh and moved on, but it does leave me wondering... why can he perform any other time, just not on stage? And do I push it, or let it go?

He was nervous going in, but I kept using peer pressure to get him to hang in there. (Wait til that bites me in the ass in high school when he blames that preschool conversation for why he's using crack.) When I left him with his teacher, he seemed nervous but ready. When they paraded into the church for the performance, we were sitting toward the back and off to the side. (We learned that lesson during program number one last year when he saw us front and center and never even made it to the stage.) His head flew back and forth like he was a crash test dummy as he searched the crowd for us and we sat lower and lower in our seats like we were melting. Then, he spotted us.

He swiped at a tear or two while he stared at me, and I gave him the thumbs up and clapped and whispered "you're ok. Stay there." He tried. He really did. He swiped the tears, not making a sound. He set his mouth in a flat line and he stared at me. Cue the music. He swiped tears faster, his chin dimpled and quivered, and finally, his face crumpled into mush. To his credit, he didn't make a sound, and his teachers rescued him before he disrupted the song (or followed through with my fear that Willzilla would trample the two rows of non-giant children in front of him to escape like that horse in the parade in Iowa). He then walked calmly along the outside of the church until he got to our row and settled into my lap.

During his controlled collapse on stage, my mind was reeling. I watched the tears come faster as he fought to keep control and my every impulse was to push the crowd aside and get him down. This was a preschool music program, for God's sake, not a summit to create world peace. If it was that terrifying, I should save him. Then my rational side said no. Let him learn that this is ok. He's with his friends, it should be fun. And that argument won until Will and his two teachers (last year's and this year's working together to save my boy and the program itself) settled my internal debate. But it lingers....

There is another program in the spring and a graduation at the end of the year. Will he do it? Do I force him? Letting him out of it only reinforces his fear, but then again... he's four. Does it matter if he is too afraid to sing silly songs in front of a crowd of parents that only care about their children? When do you push and when do you let it go? And, seriously how is he ever going to thank me in his Oscar speech if he can't get up on the stage?!?!?!


Yo mama said...

To quote Will, I have no idea!

heidi said...

I say...he at least has to stand up and try it in spring! If he crys and needs to come off stage again, at least he tried!

jennifer said...

If you figure it out, let me know, since I still suffer from the stage fright. I had to speak on a conference call the other day and I could hear my own voice quivering. Yet,on my terms, I am loud and the center of attention.

Domestic Goddess (In Training) said...

I have to say, this post offered some great advice! I agree with Heidi, that we have to encourage him to try... and I agree with Jennifer that lots of people have that issue well into adulthood. And mostly, I agree with Miss Mandy (his teacher from last year) who said that she will escort him across the stage on graduation day. Thanks all!!!