Friday, June 14, 2013

Preschool "Graduation"

Elizabeth's first year of preschool ended in May. The local high school had a child-development class that offered preschool three days a week, for an hour and a half. The teacher taught the students, and then the students would create lesson plans and run the preschool. It was the perfect introduction for Elizabeth to school. And it was free!

She loved school. She loved her teacher, Mr. Williams, and all her "high schoolers" (especially the pretty blond girls. Kids are shallow like that.) Every school day when we'd pick her up, she'd jump into the mini-van and her siblings would demand to see what awesome craft she'd made that day. The curriculum was basically playtime, crafts, and snacks, which was fine by me. 

For graduation, the families were invited to come to the high school auditorium where the preschoolers would be doing a presentation. They'd been practicing for weeks and every day after school, Mr. Williams would tell me what a little star Elizabeth was—how much she loved being on stage. And then I'd hear another parent told that her son needed to listen to directions better and I'd feel so smug. Of course she's a star. She's my daughter.

The day of the "graduation" ceremony, we dropped Elizabeth off at the usual preschool entrance then went to the auditorium. 

Here we are waiting for it to begin.

Some of us were happy . . .

Some of us, not so much.

And then the curtain came up and this is what we saw.

All the kids waved their little props and did their little actions to the songs, while Elizabeth hung her head and wouldn't move.

After the first song, I went up to the stage and tried to help calm her stage fright, but I think I just made it worse. The teacher didn't know what to do, and it was only when one of her high schoolers volunteered to stand with her, that she went back on stage.

The cheese, apparently, does not stand alone.

Don't look at me.
She wouldn't even look up to get her certificate.

And how did she act as soon as the curtain went down?

Like this:

Ah, Elizabeth. We love you. Stage fright and all. 

And lest you think this is not my typical Emily-bares-her-soul post, I had a really hard time watching Elizabeth act like that on stage. I was embarrassed  I kept looking around. All the little "awws" and "poor things" from the people around me just heightened it. And my embarrassment was only compounded by my ignorance of how to deal with it. Part of me wanted to run up and tell her she could come off the stage. But part of me said, no, you can't rescue her from every hard thing she'll ever face. And of course there was the part of me that was beating myself up for feeling embarrassed in the first place. Anda tiny part of me was really miffed that the little boy who'd goofed off during rehearsals had been the star of the show.

On the walk home, I kept asking Elizabeth why she'd been so afraid. All I could get was that there were just too many people in the audience. Not like rehearsals, I suppose. I told her over and over how proud we were and that we understood she was afraid and that it was okay. I just hoped she didn't catch on to any of the other emotions I was struggling to sort out.  

But you know? This was her day. And after the performance part, which she obviously didn't enjoy, she was laughing and eating refreshments, and taking pictures with her high schoolers, and could care less. And despite my repeated questioning, she seemed completely oblivious that anything less then ideal had happened. And that's something I truly admire.