"I decided to pass, Mom.", my boy said to me this morning, during our morning pre-get-out-of-bed period, before the little sister got up to create some drama for the day.
He had come home the other day mentioning that he was picked by his teacher to talk about what integrity was, and to do this with his friend Sally in front of his school. I was pumped for him, what mother wouldn't be? I told him he should be proud of the fact that his teacher selected him, and that she obviously thought he could perform well.
He was given a couple days to think about it, and I had tried to instill some confidence in him that he could do it. I guess I failed. He'd let the butterflies get the better of him and gave the task to another friend.
"Oh. When is the assembly?"
"It's later today in 5th period. I felt too nervous, though, and Mrs. Smith said it was okay."
"Well, I think you could have done it, you're so good at speaking, and you're a natural."
"But Mom, this would have been in front of the WHOLE SCHOOL. I could have handled it if it was just primary. But I would have had to say it in front of the primary, intermediate AND SENIORS! Mrs. Smith said it was fine; she said she was so nervous when she first started as a teacher she could barely face her first day in class. So I feel okay about it."
I suppose speaking in front of over 800 people would be intimidating. Even if he imagined they were all in their underwear. That made him laugh. How could he concentrate on his speech about integrity if he pictured everyone in their skivvies?
I had resisted the urge to do the mom pressure tactic, to push him to "seize the opportunity to shine."Something that is just inbred, I suppose. I remember being under the gun myself when I was just a little older than my boy, preparing my first speech with cue cards. The old tape recorder was turned on, and I was recorded by my mom, and my dad, as they coached me to remember each and every word, to speak with expression and enthusiasm. They knew I could do it too, but it doesn't mean that I wasn't shitting nickels the whole time I was performing.
But my boy's not comfortable with it this time. So I am fine with it.
It's not an earth-shattering opportunity. He would have shone like the beacon that he is. I'll just remain quietly proud of him. He'll gain more confidence. There will be other moments.
Public speaking. It's probably a number one fear on most every list out there. Don't know what it is about that.
Why do we fear this? Why do we let our insecurities get the better of us? I'm probably the most guilty of that myself.
My own worst enemy.
Call it analysis paralysis. Afraid of failure.
So I did something a little earlier this year.
Y'all know that I'm going to BlogHer. Well, they have this thing called a community keynote. They'll choose from several hundreds of submissions and offer the chance to some bloggers to share their favourite posts. In front of, what, over 1,000 people?
I told my boy that I had made a couple of submissions. (Did not share that I was shitting nickels while I hit "send").
And that if Mommy were really, really lucky, she might even get chosen (super long shot, I know, but I was trying to make a lesson out of this). To be asked to speak in front of 1,000 people. Actually, to have ASKED to speak in front of 1,000, of my own volition.
And that if it happened, I would do it. I would also probably cry.
He was awestruck. And he's confident that I'll be picked (he's so sweet that way).
I don't know about that.
But there's a part of me that's hoping that I just might feel the need to wear special skivvies in six weeks' time.
You know, to catch those nickels.
(Bought the CD. Can you say "Rock Opera". LOVE it.)