My kids are all painfully shy. It seems to be a genetic thing. It actually physically pains me when I watch their faces as watch other kids do the things that they would love to do, but are to afraid to do. I have given the pep talk so many times that I should just record it, and play it. "I know you're afraid, but isn't better to try something fun. It's important to do things that scare us, it makes us strong." In the end we make baby steps. It's hard for me to watch, but even harder for them to live.
All of our kids have taken part in soccer. It's fun, it's inexpensive, and it is a small time commitment. The problem is their shyness. They desperately wanted to take part, but were too afraid to leave our side. Inevitably one of us would have to go on the field with them (I picked Daddy to go). So there we were feeling like idiots holding the kid's hands while they kicked the balls. As time progressed it went from holding hands, to running beside, to running a distance away, to playing on their own. I would like to share that this progress did not take place in one season, oh no. Rowan just started being able to play on his own the year before last. Christopher would illicit giggles from the other parents as he coached with Rowan attached to his leg. The important thing is not our embarrassment, but that they gained the strength to go it alone.
Out of our five kids, Elly is our bravest. She is by no means an extrovert, but she takes more social risks than the other kids ever did. She will sometimes talk to people if she's holding my hand when they talk to her. The other kids would not, could not. Our Elly is brave. I know that sounds like a silly thing to say, but the other four kids were so introverted. Elly is our last and I think that she not only got their outgrown clothes, but their outgrown strength.
Last night Elly played soccer for the first time. She was the smallest on her team (also unusual for our giant children). Her little red shirt came down to her knees. She was so excited to be like the "big kids" and play soccer. She had on her little shin guards, her little wind pants, she was ready to play. At first when they called her name she couldn't make herself go. I took her by the hand and we walked over. "Here we go again" I thought to myself. They all got into a big circle. When the ball came to them, they were supposed to call out their name, and kick the ball to someone else. We have played this game every year for the last 13 years. Inevitably I would say their name for them. When the ball came to Elly, she called out her name, not loudly, but she said it, then she kicked the ball. I of coarse could barely see her for tears ( man I'm a basket case). It was a HUGE step for her.
Eventually my brave little girl, let her big sister Grace substitute for me. She ran holding Grace's hand at first. Eventually she let go. She ran on her own, always looking back to keep Gracie in her sight line, but she ran on her own. When the coach asked who would like to be goalie, Elly put up her hand. Elly played in goal... by herself! She even kicked the ball out of the net! By the end of the game she had kicked the ball 14 times (this was tallied by Grace with great pride). That is 14 more times than the big kids did in their first 3 years. I remember bribing the big kids in their games, "Mommy will buy you a toy if you kick the ball". I saved a lot of money on bribery toys.
Elly would not be here if we had not had such great tragedy. She is our gift. I'm not sure if a child has ever been more loved and wanted. Everyone dotes on her. So far she is benefitting from having older siblings who look out for her, and older parents that have used the older kids as guinea pigs. She is not just the apple of her mommy and daddy's eye, she is the apple of the brother and sisters's eyes, and her Nana and Popa's eye. Our little Elly will do great things, especially if soccer is any indication of the things to come.