Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A True Joy: Watching A Child Overcome A Fear

Over President's Day weekend, the family laced up ice skates and hit the rink.  Only one family member stood upright the entire time and that would be (drumroll please)!

 Connor transformed from a boy in 2015 into Knute Rockne, famed Notre Dame football coach in the 1920s, for the Hoosier History Wax Museum at school.

It's a mystery to me.  The fact that I have four sons, with the same biological parents, who exhibit such different personalities.  I could go on about the ways their personalities diverge, but this weekend I thought about their fear/anxiety levels.  

I have some sons who exhibit a total lack of fear.  They are the boys who can be found leaping from the top of the bunkbeds and scaling the pinnacle point of the playground.

Then I have other sons who comfortably fall into the "risk averse" category.  They shy away from activities that have even an iota potential of bodily harm or damage.  Although these are the sons I can most relate, they are also the sons missing out on amazing experiences and memories.  They are the sons who opt out of the roller coaster ride, but also the sons who likely will NOT end up in casts.

Connor is one of the fearful sons.  A fact that baffles many, as he is confident and successful in so many aspects of his life.  For the last several months, he's expressed a strong dislike and fear of public speaking.  And so when his class began the Hoosier History Wax Museum project that includes a 3-5 minute speech, he trembled.

Friday night, Connor's teacher emailed me.  Connor said he couldn't give his speech.  He blamed nerves.  The teacher was empathetic, but firm.  Connor was to give the speech on Monday.

Our weekend could be summed in this way: preparing Connor for his speech.  Every spare minute and late into the evenings, he practiced.  He practiced clad in pajamas, while watching his brother's basketball game, and while seated around the dinner table.  He practiced so much that I memorized the speech.

Monday morning rolled around.  I dropped him off at school.   The entire day, I sat and wondered about Connor's speech.  Did his nerves get the best of him?  Was he able to belt out the words without a moment of hesitation?

His teacher emailed me in the afternoon.  She said Connor delivered the speech without a hint of nerves.  I gleefully soaked in her words.

I was happy that Connor presented a good speech.  But more importantly, I was proud that he tackled and overcame a fear.  I realized one of the true joys as a parent is seeing a child really work at something and be successful, and this can only be seen when they face a challenge head-on.

Connor insists the speech team is not in his future.  It's probably not.  But, I'm thinking he'll approach the next school speech with a little less hesitation.  He earned it.

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