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.
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.”