My kids constantly amaze me. When I started homeschooling Big Girl 9 1/2 years ago (!!), some people wondered about how she’d learn to socialize when she wasn’t in school all day with other kids. Meanwhile, we plugged on, got involved with homeschooling groups, got her into sports, theater & church groups and put her sister into many of the same activities, plus dance.
My Dancing Princess
Today, much to my surprise, I have a rising ninth grader and rising sixth grader. It’s hard for me to believe sometimes how grown-up my girls are getting! And they have bloomed into unique and wonderful young ladies.
Today, Big Girl is at her first day of drama camp – but a different group than last year. Yet she knows a lot of the kids there, who also dance with Little Girl.
We arrived at the camp location (a small community theater about 25 minutes from our home) and signed her in for the day. Entering the theater (without me, I might add), she sat down in a big group of girls and just started chatting it up, talking about mutual friends and all sorts of things.
As I looked at her in the middle of this scene – with a group of four or five girls watching her and listening while she talked animatedly – I thought, “Whose kid is this!?” I think this partly because, really, she’s not a kid any more, but a beautiful young woman and partly because she is this amazing and outgoing, confident and cheerful girl. She seems fearless to me, and she jumps with gusto into situations that make me just cringe and want to hide in my introverted Hobbit-hole-shaped shell.
All this goes to prove, really, is that a lack of social skills isn’t dependent on your schooling situation as much as it is on your personality. Introverts will be the way they are – and extroverts, as well – no matter where they go to school. Since I have one child of each variety, I have some pretty good proof of that. Well, that and the fact that after 13 years of public school, a college degree, a Dale Carnegie speaking class (and even a GA session in another round of it), and various leadership roles in church activities, I am still an introvert who’d rather be home with my books and a nice, warm cup of coffee than hanging out in a large group of people without the benefit of having my entire family there to support me so I won’t die of fright.
Oh, did I say die? I’ve improved a lot since the days when I’d hide behind my mother rather than say hello to a friend from school when I see them in the store. I’m all the way up to waving at people, and even sometimes talking to them. But it almost always still takes an effort for me.
But my girls…back to them.
I’m amazed to see who they are growing into. Big Girl has always liked being around people, but her confidence has grown so much. When she was first born, I feared she would lack confidence in herself – that she’d be unsure, like me. But she isn’t! She shines, she is so much more confident that I ever thought she’d be. I tell her sometimes that she’s the girl I always dreamed of being: smart, funny, confident, outgoing, popular, athletic. I often watch her with her friends and just gape in amazement.
Little Girl, though she’s introverted like me, has gained more confidence in her (almost) 11 years than I did in my first 22. I give a lot of the credit to her dance teachers, who have helped her realize her talents and let her shine in her dance numbers. In addition to dancing (she just finished her sixth year of dancing at the same studio), she also started singing in the children’s choir at our parish where the choir director started giving her small solos. These solos started with a line or two sung from the safety of the choir, but culminated this Easter with her singing part of the Responsorial Psalm, alternating verses with another girl. Though nervous, she worked hard to learn her part and stepped up to that mic and nailed it! Even though the public parts of sharing her talents make her nervous, she has learned to work through those nerves, pull herself together, and give a great performance. (Often, her motivation to do so is to share the talents God gave her and give Him glory through her actions.)
I’m so proud of the people my children are growing into, and I thank God every day for the blessing of being able to raise them.