Well, Folks, I have a new hero.
Last night at her preschool "graduation" my five-year-old daughter astounded me with a feat of bravery I have seldom seen out of grown men, let alone a small child.
Gracie is a force of nature. She is so full of life, personality and maturity it is often easy for me to forget, not only that she's five, but that she is also painfully shy. I don't mean "shy" like you try to talk to her and she looks the other way or doesn't talk back. I mean "shy" like hiding in my bedroom for the first half of Thanksgiving dinner because people other than her most immediate family were here... never mind that they were all relatives she has seen many times.
She requires warning and practice to get through an evening with Grandpa Doug and Uncle Monte simply because she doesn't see them on a daily basis. "I'll try" she says about coming out of the bedroom before the first hour of the visit has passed. When she does come out, she spends the next half hour glued to my side. By the end of the evening, she'll talk.
When she was really young, strangers would make her literally tremble and sob with fear.
There is no traumatic event to explain this behavior, it's just the way she was made.
She informed her teacher she would not be singing in the Preschool Christmas performance two weeks before it was scheduled to occur. She agreed to design the program, however. (Which turned out really cool, incidentally.)
All this is to explain what an amazing and impressive thing it was for her to walk with her classmates at her graduation last night.
She held back tears, though she looked as though she was about to explode. She sang and did sign language while she rocked side to side to comfort herself.
She was not coerced, bribed or threatened to do this. I was sitting in the second row where she could clearly see me. She knew she could bolt from the stage and curl up in my lap with her head in my chest without reproach...
But she didn't.
"And the Oscar goes to...!" She is smiling here because it is required when singing "When You're Happy And You Know It."
She powered through and made us all want to cry at the sight of such courage in the face of the biggest fear of her young little life.
When she was excused to come sit with her family, she sat down like a lady, though with a great deal of relief, she did not collapse into a weepy heap.
AND, when asked to re-join her teacher... BY HERSELF... at the front of the room, she looked at me, paused only a moment, then walked back up there in front of of everyone and LEAD THE PRAYER before refreshments!
To say I am proud of her would be a gross understatement. Knowing what torture being the center of attention has been for her, that was her equivalent of summiting Everest.
I strive to have that much courage when I grow up.