Saturday, October 18, 2014

Proud To Be Your Mom

Parenting is so monotonous. The same thing day in and day and I hardly ever see the growth right before me. It is hard to raise children. I say the same things over and over. I am not really challenged intellectually (yet) by the two of you. We don't have interesting debates or discuss the future of education or technological innovations. But sometimes a moment happens which makes this whole parenting gig worth it.

"Caleb" is a new boy in your class. He has a late September birthday, so just recently turned 5. Which is fine. He is smart and cute and holding his own in kindergarten (from what I hear) but he is tiny and new experiences scare him. Especially in PE where both kindergartens (all 21 kids) are in the gym together running around / playing some strategic game like sharks and seals. Caleb hates PE. It is loud and chaotic and everyone always seems to be able do more than him. He has started to cry / get upset and at first the 2 PE teachers would address it or the 2 kindergarten aids. But one day 2 weeks ago, you saw Caleb hurt and upset and scared. You did not wait for a teacher. You did not ignore him because you know too well what it is like to be so overwhelmed and scared. Instead, you walked up to him, grabbed his hand and said "Come with me!" and you proceeded to show him how to play the game. He was still getting upset so you stopped faced him, placed your hands on his shoulders and said, "You can do this. Don't worry I will stay with you." Off the two of went to play the game and Caleb felt better. Now when Caleb starts to feel upset or nervous or scared, he looks for you. Each time you reassure him that he is going be ok and you grab his hand.

All on your own you have decided to be a friend. A mentor. You saw your own fears, you understood how he felt and what it was like to panic and you also knew what to say. Most importantly, you acted. Nora, you have demonstrated, at 5 years old, a deep empathetic character. I am continually inspired by you. I am so proud of the person you are. And I am happy to wake again with you day after day and remind you to tie your shoes and grab your lunch and wash your hair and make silly jokes and talk about  what we see and hear around us. But I am also so grateful to be watching this beautiful person growing up in front of me.

Nora, you are not an ostrich!

Sometimes I am surprised by what inspires you Nora. You begged me for weeks to let you watch "Rio" in the car. I couldn't imagine a movie about a parrot being that interesting. But somehow that little blue bird has inspired you to take more risks, live a little more fully and give you the courage to try nerve-inducing experiences. It all started last year in pre-K with Leadership circles, one of the many ways your school develops young leadership skills like public speaking. We found out that public speaking (in front of about 150 students, parents and teachers) is not your cup of tea. In fact, you were so uncomfortable and so dreaded these leadership circles that it caused anxiety / panic attacks. Screaming / crying, pure panic. We worked with you, your teachers gave you smaller parts, no talking parts, stage-hand only parts. Nothing worked. You were terrified of leadership circle. Your new kindergarten teachers were ready for this phobia. Everyone in the Lower School knows you hate performing in front of others. You just won't do it without hysterically crying. In your classroom in front of other 4 and 5 year olds, you are fine (most of the time). But you in front of large, unfamiliar crowd and you panic.

We still don't know how you will perform this year in Leadership circle. But thankfully, your first one isn't until January. But somehow this year you have been facing your fears one by one. Relay races in PE? No problem now. Speaking in front of the class? Not an issue. Then I received an email last Friday that made me almost fall off my chair: "Video of Nora as the Lead in the Class Play." There is no way Nora was in a play, let alone the lead. Now, don't get me wrong Nora, you love theater. You will easily sit for a 3 hour show and be enthralled but actually perform? I went upstairs to your classroom where one of your teachers played a video of you as the main character (Cass) in the kindergarten play. The class put it on in front of the 1st grade and administration! No fear, no crying. No hesitation. You used your "leadership voice" and projected the words clearly and loudly. You had even memorized all your lines that day! In fact you had volunteered to play the main role. It was all your idea.

What does this have to do with Rio? When Mrs. Amey and Mrs. Welliver asked you why you were no longer afraid of speaking in front of others, you responded by talking about Blu not being an ostrich. They later asked me if you watched a movie about a bird name Blu.... because you explained your feelings through this character so well. 

Some people think it is just developmental. That you are now ready to speak in front of other people. Maybe it is. But I think it is more. I think you saw yourself in Blu. You saw his fears as your own and his ability to conquer his fears and not be ostrich something so inspiring that it made you re-think the things you were too afraid to do too.

All I know for sure is Rio has taken it's place in your top ten all time favorite movies. Maybe close to #1 for me at least. When asked, you say: Chitty, Frozen, Lego Movie, Rio, Mary Poppins, Annie, Tangled and Brave. And in no other universe would these movies ever go together (well the Disney ones would), but somehow they say so much about who you are and perfectly match your personality that we adore so much. 

I am inspired by your strength and courage.