Yes, it is!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

So Proud of My Girl!

This morning started out smooth until it right before it was time to leave for church.  Jackie was supposed to perform with the children's choir but suddenly, Jackie was getting cold feet.  She started crying and saying that she hated to be on stage.  Then she started to almost sob.  She said her left hand was not working good enough for the hand motions during the production.  But after our conversation after the production, I now think it was more than that.
Several months ago, the children's choir started working on a little play to perform church.  It is called "Sermon on the Mound."  Jackie was given a CD to help her learn the music at home, too.  Every Sunday, I took her to choir practice and Awana.  Jackie seemed to enjoy going. I was very happy to get Jackie involved in music at church.  I realized during Jackie's toddler years that she had a potential talent in voice.  Even at age 2, she was able to sing Jesus Loves Me, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and the ABC song pretty much in tune.  I was impressed.  And sometimes embarrassed even when she would suddenly belt out a song in the middle of the store aisle.  And loudly.  I encouraged Jackie to sing and she eventually started picking songs from the car stereo.  I was anxious for Jackie to become old enough to join a choir somewhere. 
During these past couple of months, Jackie enjoyed learning the new songs and I even watched her doing some of the hand motions. I didn't think anything of it until a couple of weeks ago when Jackie just casually told me that her choir teacher didn't make her do the hand motions and that she didn't have to if she didn't want to.  Hmm.  I immediately shot off an email to one of the choir teachers to tell them of my and Jackie's conversation. I also let this person know that I want the teachers to encourage Jackie to participate fully and to do the hand motions.  I did not want her to be treated any differently than the other children.  Jackie's left hand may not be 100% functional but that was no reason to let Jackie get away with not participating.  For a fleeting moment, I even thought that perhaps the teachers encouraged Jackie to not use her hands since her movements would not be as perfect as the other kids.  But that was just irrational thinking.  I just get worried about those things because of Jackie's mild (very mild) limitations.  I mean, it seems everyone wants "perfect" children to have the good parts.  I got an email back from that particular teacher saying that she would encourage Jackie to do the hand motions. Good.
Nothing further was said and Jackie seemed okay about participating in this production.  Until this morning when Jackie started crying.  Part of me just wanted to scoop Jackie under my wing and protect her from all those "perfect" children and just stay home with her.  But the other part said "NO, we are going to conquer this thing."  I had a gentle talk with Jackie, with tears streaming down her face and myself on the verge of tears for my baby.  I told her that I understand that she is aware that her left hand doesn't work as well like other kids.  I told her that I am not going to allow her to use this as an excuse to not accomplish things.  I told her that she has to keep trying hard and not to give up trying to get better.  Practice will just make things get better.  And that also applies to that left hand.  I reminded her that she has a beautiful singing voice and that I want her to be able to show off her talent as she gets older.  And I really want to watch her sing on stage this morning. She didn't want anybody to notice how her hand doesn't work well.  I told her that she was going to be on the stage with other kids and that her hand won't be as noticeable with the other kids around her.  But if she doesn't do the hand motions, then she will definitely be noticed.  I continued to encourage Jackie as we drove to church.  I got her to the choir room and left her there hoping that she wouldn't start to cry again and have to be ushered into the sanctuary to me.  I went and got a seat and waited.  Finally, the choir started to file onto the stage.  Jackie looked okay and I was relieved. 
My eyes were focused on Jackie during almost the entire production.  I was so impressed that Jackie participated and did the hand motions.  She got behind on some parts but she was doing it.  She may not have been perfect but she was doing it.  I was so proud of her.  My heart was beaming with pride for my beautiful little girl that I was nearly in tears.  She was not letting her left hand hold her back. 
After the production was over, Jackie came running to join me where her dad and I were sitting in the sanctuary.  After announcements and recognition of the high school and college graduates, I took Jackie back up to the stage for group pictures.  Unfortunately, I forgot my camera at home so I will have depend on getting copies from another parent. 
As we were leaving church, Jackie made a comment that she didn't get to be anything.  I had a feeling what it was about.  I could tell by the way Jackie looked during one of the little songs when her 4 little friends, who were chosen for special parts (dandelions), performed their little number.  I could tell that Jackie wanted to be a dandelion, too.  It hurt me to see my little girl feeling left out.  But those little girls are all close friends as well as all their moms.  So, it was just an easy thing for those girls to perform together.  They're cute, they're popular, their parents are well liked.  That's the name of the game, unfortunately, in so many places.  So, what do I say to Jackie?  Well, I just told her that not everyone was able to get a part but perhaps one day she might be able to do something more. If not there, then somewhere else.  I have a feeling that her feeling left out might be one reason Jackie didn't practice hand motions during choir practice.  She was probably using her weak hand as an excuse to try to justify her feelings.  I don't like that my little girl was very possibly feeling left out and hurt that she wasn't chosen to be anything other than a choir member.  But, that is just life and life is just not fair most of the time.  But I hope that I can instill in Jackie the importance of not letting her weakness hold her back from ANYTHING.  A lot of things will be more of a challenge for her than for another typical child but I believe my beautiful daughter is capable of great accomplishments in life.  She is intelligent, she is talented, and she can be quite funny.  And I hope others will get to know that part of her, too.
It really warmed my heart when several of the older people from the congregation came up to Jackie and complimented her.  They told her that she did a great job, she looked really good on stage, she looked pretty up there, etc.  It meant so much to me that these people loved on Jackie that way. And I know it had to make Jackie feel more special.  She is that and much more to me.  She is my pride and joy. 

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