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  • On Being Brave

    December 14, 2009

    Sunday night, the church we attend held its annual Christmas get-together where the children sing Christmas songs and have their picture taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus.  So we donned our gay apparel and off we went.

    Sean had been looking forward to going because he knew that Santa would be there and he wanted to make sure Santa knows that he wants a bow and arrow for Christmas.  He doesn’t really believe in Santa, but Sean is the kind of guy who likes to cover his bases.

    At the same time, he was not looking forward to going because he knew that he, along with his Sunday school class, was expected to get up and sing in front of everybody and he would rather eat broccoli with spinach sauce than do that.

    When they called Sean’s class up to the front to perform, he did not want to go.  Like a mule, he sat back on his heels and refused to go.

    Had it been just me, I would have said fine, no biggie and let it go at that. It didn’t seem very important to me and I know I hate being forced into doing something that makes me uncomfortable.  And if there is one thing that makes me uncomfortable it’s the thought of being forced to sing in front of a roomful of people.  And just below that is the thought that I should have to wrestle my child to the ground and then drag him by his ankles up front to sing for a room full of people.   Then there would be two terrified, not to mention angry, people up front which would put a damper on the whole tidings of comfort and joy theme. So then, my vote was to not make it an issue.

    But Antique Daddy saw it differently.  He felt it was important that Sean push through the fear and get up and sing with his group.  So he coaxed and cajoled and encouraged.  Sean looked to me for a rescue, but also high on the list of things that make me squirm is the thought of having a spousal argument in front of the entire church body, so I shrugged my shoulders to indicate to Sean that I was staying out of it and that this was between him and his daddy.

    Finally AD grabbed him by the hand and drug him up front offered to go with him.  So off they went to the front hand and hand.  Sean made his way to the stage while AD stood off to one side.

    As he stood among his peers, lip-syncing Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, I thought about how parenting is this constant challenge of trying to decide when to push and when to back off.  And how often no matter which way you go it feels like you’re getting it wrong.

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    When he got back to his seat, I pulled him into my lap and told him I thought he did a great job and that I was really proud of how brave he was.

    “I wasn’t brave!” he said in a huff, “I was really really scared!”  And then he nestled into me like a bird in a nest.

    “I know,” I whispered in his ear, “Being brave means being really really scared and doing it anyway.”

    31 Comments »

    1. RefreshMom says:

      I know what you mean about feeling like you get it wrong no matter which you choose.

      You’re a wise mommy though. Sean will have many other opportunities to be ‘brave;’ now he will know just what he’s doing and it will be so much easier the next time. And he’ll be proud of himself too.

      December 15th, 2009 at 12:12 am

    2. Steffj89 says:

      Oh how true that is about being scared and pushing through it. Isn’t that what we all want for our boys. Your insight is always such a blessing to me AM. Thank you for continuing to post.
      Blessings to you and your family this holiday season.
      Steff

      December 15th, 2009 at 12:15 am

    3. fern says:

      I remember telling my son those exact words when he was 5 yrs old–only it was about getting vaccinated.

      December 15th, 2009 at 12:42 am

    4. Stretch Mark Mama says:

      I had to go ‘up front’ a lot as a kid. It’s certainly made me more comfortable with public speaking — but to this day I can’t do it without trembling.

      December 15th, 2009 at 1:24 am

    5. Nan says:

      Wow, brave boy! I am glad he did it, and you’re right. Being brave doesn’t mean being unafraid… It means pushing through in spite of the fear. Well done Sean!

      December 15th, 2009 at 4:58 am

    6. Donna W says:

      You have such a way with words.

      December 15th, 2009 at 6:45 am

    7. Brigitte says:

      My daughter, I think, was secretly relieved that bronchitis/ear/sinus infection kept her out of the church pageant. I was secretly relieved I didn’t have to wrestle with the same issue! 😮

      December 15th, 2009 at 8:30 am

    8. snarflemarfle says:

      Beautiful!

      December 15th, 2009 at 8:34 am

    9. Kathy says:

      Thank you for a lesson on encouraging our children without “rescuing them” from the things that challenge them. I think AD has a good point, and you were wise to submit to his judgment. Sean will remember THAT lesson as well. Keep teaching us with your wit, wisdom, and even your worries.

      Blessings on your family this Christmas.

      December 15th, 2009 at 8:52 am

    10. Shelly W. says:

      Oh my. I love that last line. I’m going to remember it forever.

      December 15th, 2009 at 9:06 am

    11. jobie says:

      I soooo needed that last line of your blog – especially today! I think I will make it my status on Facebook at some point!! Thank you for writing it!

      December 15th, 2009 at 10:14 am

    12. Bill McNutt says:

      I remember that as a child. It was always my Dad who had to push me to confront my fears and push through them. I wish they’d done more of that. My life would have been very different if I’d had more testacular fortitude when I was younger. I didn’t “man up” until embarrassingly late in life.

      Bill

      December 15th, 2009 at 10:18 am

    13. edj says:

      This year, Abel volunteered himself AND HIS TWIN SIS to read some verses in French at our bilingual service! She won’t soon let him forget it. 😉

      December 15th, 2009 at 10:37 am

    14. Tom says:

      Right on the button.

      December 15th, 2009 at 11:41 am

    15. zoom says:

      I can relate to Sean. As a child I was terrified of being in front of a crowd. And to have to sing… well that made my stomach bunch up in knots and my knees go all rubber.

      My parents pushed and encouraged, and in a way made me keep getting up in front of people.

      In later life , in one of my various careers, I conducted seminars in front of groups of up to 300 people. Helping your child to face and overcome his discomfort, fears and trepidations is a wonderful gift.

      I still don’t sing, unless I want to get a big chuckle out of my audience.

      December 15th, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    16. Melissa says:

      Such a busy time of year, from Halloween on, I haven’t had much time to catch up on blogs. I hadn’t touched base with yours in awhile.
      I did today.
      Your last sentence does not just apply to children. This time it applied and spoke directly to me, and while I won’t go into the details, let me just tell you. You made a difference today. Happy Holidays.

      December 15th, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    17. Kathy says:

      I use the same definition of bravery.

      Something that might help him next time, if you can pull it off: go into the church or the hall well before the actual performance, when its empty except for him and you. Stand where he will be standing for the real performance, and let him practice there a couple of times. It’ll get him used to what the room looks and feels like from that spot.

      December 15th, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    18. Julie says:

      As a musician, fear of performing (violin) is always a factor, but it soon passes. However, Fear of Singing is an Entirely Different Matter. My ear training professor enjoyed torturing me by making me Sing In Front Of The Class. But I survived two years of it (and got an A because of the effort. And that I could sing in tune.) Now I get to pass on the fun by making my own students sing. LOL!

      I’m sure that doesn’t help Sean, but it was fun to share.

      December 15th, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    19. Cyndi says:

      Thanx for sharing the struggles – same here, but I’m not so eloquent 😉 Also, can you share how you blurred the other kids in the photo? I need to get some photo editing, I guess 😉 Happy week!

      * * *
      I used Picasa which, a free photo editing program by Google. It’s super easy to use and does all the basic stuff. I used the soft focus feature to blur out the other children.

      December 15th, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    20. happy geek says:

      “I thought about how parenting is this constant challenge of trying to decide when to push and when to back off. And how often no matter which way you go it feels like you’re getting it wrong.”
      Uh huh. And Amen.

      Although pushing my children to star in something is not something I have to struggle over. “Sing quietly so we can hear everyone” is more my motto.
      Also “keep your hands out of your pants” but that’s another story for another day.

      December 15th, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    21. Allison says:

      Wow, I was just talking with my husband about this same thing. When do you push them out of their comfort zone, and when do you hold them close? So hard to decide if a given situation is stretching them or causing emotional scars…..

      December 15th, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    22. Linda says:

      I often wished for a great big tome with every little question indexed with appropriate answer in an easy to use format. Unfortunately, I never did find one of those and consequently got it wrong far too many times. But they are all grown up and amazing adults. I have found that God’s grace covers a multitude of …..well you know.

      December 15th, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    23. Carrie says:

      I think that’s half the reason why we have Daddies in our babies lives – I would possibly never push or punish my son, but my husband does a great job being firm. 🙂

      December 15th, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    24. rrmama says:

      You are such a wonderful mom AM!!

      December 15th, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    25. Stacey says:

      I loved reading this post, not only did we get a slice your lives, but I think we all learned– or re-learned a lesson.
      To keep still and only shrug your shoulders– that was powerful to read–
      I love how the two of you work as a team to parent the best way you can!
      That last line needs to be a T-shirt or bumper sticker– 🙂

      December 15th, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    26. Jenna says:

      Well said.

      December 16th, 2009 at 1:29 am

    27. Birdie says:

      Oh, so true.

      December 16th, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    28. Angela Nazworth says:

      Very sweet and true…I giggled at the part where he had something to ask of Santa even tho he doesn’t believe in him…my daughter likes to cover her bases as well…although she’s the type who likes to sing in front of a large audience…she volunteered to sing a solo at my mom’s church on Sunday

      December 16th, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    29. mary says:

      And then…..they get older….and they still have to work at walking the fine line of brave/scared….17yoDD called me after school in tears because she volunteered to read her report in front of the class and she did not do well and got poor marks. Alligator tears even at 17!!!

      December 16th, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    30. Iota says:

      You need to practise the being brave and being scared thing as a child, because you have to do so much of it when you get to be a parent and you need the experience.

      December 19th, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    31. Jenni D. says:

      “I thought about how parenting is this constant challenge of trying to decide when to push and when to back off.” Man. Truer words were never written.

      December 20th, 2009 at 11:32 pm

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