I still remember like it was yesterday. I was in kindergarten, sitting in music class, when my music teacher came up to me and asked if I would sing a solo at the school Christmas concert. In total shock, I quickly said, “Oh, no… no thank you!”
I was so scared, shy and timid. I know that’s shocking, coming from the girl who talks in front of thousands of people for a living now, but I had zero interest singing in front of my entire school.
After coming home from school that evening, I remember recapping my day at school with my mom. I’m sure I told her about who I sat with at lunch, what I learned that day, and then I just happened to mention that my music teacher asked me to sing a solo in the school Christmas show, but that I’d said no. Oh boy, that was all I needed to say… “YOU SAID NO?!”
I can still see my mom’s face. I had no idea she’d react that way. Yes, I was always singing and performing around the house, but not in front of the whole school. But maybe all I needed was a little push, a little enhanced motivation? My mom told me that I was going to do that solo, and literally walked me to school the next day and into the music room, telling my teacher that I’d do it. I’d sing that solo. Gulp! It felt a little like sink or swim: you’re going off the diving board, Sara!
Fast forward a bit. I sang the solo, and it went great. I was super scared, nervous, all the feels — but something else happened. It broke my fear of being in front of people and performing. My mom knew I needed that little push — well, that big push — and I’m so grateful she did.
I used this lesson with my daughter this year. She’s always performing around the house, acting, singing, making us laugh, but had zero interest in performing in front of people. However, something in my “mommy gut” told me that she’s a performer at heart, so I signed her up for theater camp for five weeks.
The first day of camp, she hated it. She begged me not to take her back. “Puhhhleezz mom, all the kids know each other already. I’m too nervous. I don’t like being in front of people.”
It would’ve been really easy for me to say, “OK, honey, you can quit,” but I really believe we need to push our kids out of their comfort zones a little more. And honestly, at her age of 8 years old, she’s just too young to make that decision for herself to quit. I have to help move her along as a parent.
So I told her that we’d give it two days. After that, we’d see how she feels and then we’d decide what to do with the camp. Well, after day two she loved it! She made friends, went on stage without being afraid, and grew so much. I am so stinkin’ proud of her.
How many times in other things, though, did I not push my kids? Probably a lot. My oldest daughter still rags on me for letting her quit piano! Maybe I should’ve pushed her harder, too. It’s something I think about a little bit more these days. Maybe we all should. It’s OK to push your kids out of their comfort zones. In my experience, they’ll thank you for it later.