Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Conquering Shyness - Grace's Play

    I love summer.  I do not love summer because of the heat, I hate hot weather.  I love summer because it means no routine.  I do not have an alarm clock to get up to.  I can spend quality time with my kids.  During the summer we do fun things, and many of them are actually educational.  We learn about something and then we take a field trip to see it.  Summer is nice, summer is relaxing.... this summer is NOT!
    It all began in April when a nice boy that Grace knows invited her to come with him and his mom and brother to see a children's production of Cinderella at the Stirling Festival Theatre.  Gracie came home flushed with excitement waving a sheet of paper around.  "I want to audition!" she squealed.  "Mom, Dad, can I audition?", "Yes" we said.  After all of that was out of the way she went on to tell us how great of a time she had, and how much she had enjoyed the show.  Everyday after that she would ask me, "Have you called the Stirling Festival Theatre yet?".  Let me just tell you that "Are we THERE YET?" pales in comparison to several times a day "Have you called yet?"  Everyday "Yes, I called, they will call when the audition time are set."  That was then followed by a variation of the first "Have THEY called yet?"  There are no words to describe how very delighted I was to receive an email from the director telling me that they were now booking auditions.   
    I know that I have shared this before, but it I think I should share it again.  I am amazed how far my little girl has come.  For the first 6 years of school she barely said a word to anyone.  She was a very anxious child, always.  When we had our car accident when she was three, she was trapped in a car for hours in the freezing cold surrounded by strangers trying to save her big brother's life.  Strangers had to cut her out of the car after several hours, and only after Gabe had been rushed away by ambulance. It was then a week before she saw her parents again, and a week after Gabe's funeral that she really saw us again.  It was almost as if all of this proved to her that she should be afraid of the world.  I spent my time trying to gently nudge her out of her comfort zone, trying to prove to her that the world is really a nice place, not so scary.  The worst part of all of this was that she was a extravert trapped in an introvert's body.  It was almost like a prison for her.  You could see in her eyes that she would so desperately like to be the centre of attention, but that introvert kept telling her she needed to be afraid.
    A few years ago I found out that our local arts council was sponsoring a theatre camp.  This camp was being run by a young man who had been trained in theatre.  I thought that this was perfect for her.  She was afraid.  She so desperately wanted to go, but was so anxious.  In the end I signed her up, and told her that if she didn't like it after the first lesson, she would not have to go back.  I reminded her how important it is to do things that scare us, because then we learn how to live without fear.  When we entered the room we were greeted by this young curly haired man with a huge infectious smile, and I knew that we had done that right thing for Grace.  She came home from that first lesson in love with theatre, and we all fell in love with Tim Porter, the young curly haired man who helped to bring our butterfly out of her cocoon.   She transformed herself that first class.  She went from not being able to make herself talk to Tim, to at the end doing a small solo singing part.
    That first class gave Grace the knowledge that she could do what she loved, and that it was o.k..  She mastered her shyness, well enough that she could allow that extravert to come out and play occasionally.  It was shortly after that she asked if she could audition for YTV's "The Next Star"
 (Canada's children's American Idol).  My answer, "YES!".  We left our house at 4 a.m. to get a place in line for the auditions.  We waited with thousands of other children and their parents outside in the cold. She had been practicing her audition piece for weeks, and was ready.  She went down that escalator all alone, looking like she was going to vomit, to audition for the show.  I stood watching my little girl go down that escalator, barely able to see her for my tears.  I was so proud of what she had conquered.  After that there was no stopping her.  She auditioned for her school talent show, and made it.  She from there was asked to sing the national anthem for our community's Canada Day, and she was amazing!  Grace has kicked that cocoon to the curb, and is trying to embrace her new wings.
    When Grace asked if she could audition, how could we not say yes.  I knew that if she made it I would be sacrificing our summer to her, but it was a sacrifice I was willing to make, and would make up to the other kids.  I not so secretly hoped that she would choke at her audition.  She would have an excellent experience, but at the same point she could learn from it, and grow from it.  Unfortunately for me, and extremely fortunately for her, she made it.  Not only did she make it, but she received the part that she auditioned for!  I now stuff the three other kids into the van to drive Grace to Stirling, and then to go and pick her up.  We spend two hours a day in the car.  So far the three kids have been for the most part gracious about our trips.  I have bribed them with treats along the way.  To me it is worth the sacrifice (I may have to pay for some counseling for the other three later).
    Every day Grace comes home so excited about her new friends, her play and the nice director.  We are inching ever closer to her performance.  Everyone is asking us to get them tickets for the shows.  Everyone is proud of Grace and excited to watch her unfurl her wings.  I don't know if this is Grace's path forever, but it is a wonder path for right now, and if she continues on this path, I think that she will shine.

    My summer does not look anything like I envisioned it when the snow was melting and I looked dreamily to the future.  My summer has routine.  I am still trying to decide how to better use what little time I have in the day.  It's worth the sacrifice.  We will all have more summers.  This is an opportunity that is too important for Grace to miss.  We are so excited to watch her up there on the stage, although I am pretty sure that I will barely be able to see her for tears.

    If you would like to find out more about the Stirling Festival Theatre, or would like to purchase your own tickets to see our little rising star, you might be interested in this link...

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