"Cheryl, you should really encourage your children to not be so shy."
Yes, this sentence was actually said to me while we were at our Family Life Retreat this past weekend.
Of course, it was all said in jest...right after Sydney had performed one of her skits up on stage, in front of everyone, when no one else under 5 had the nerve, smiling and fist-pumping and bowing in all her glory.
You see, I have girls who are quite comfortable in their shells. The words Shrinking Violet, or Shy Child, or Scaredy-Cat will never be used do describe McKenna, Delaney, or Scout.
McKenna and Delaney have always been in-the-spotlight kind of people. Not that they are necessarily, "Look at me! Look at what I can do!" girls, but they love to get involved in activities and they aren't going to let a little bit of fear get in their way of doing what they want to do. (McKenna has spoken in front of the entire church, is on the dance team at school, loves to present projects at school. Delaney has played softball since she was 4 and was a pitcher for years, she sang her first solo at church when she was 5, and is one of like four sixth=graders that are in the middle school's drama production this Spring.)
But it doesn't just have to do with being comfortable in crowds or in front of people. It also extends to a comfort in speaking their minds; of not being afraid to speak up for themselves. If McKenna disagrees with a group of her peers, she is not afraid to tell them. If a boyfriend thinks she should "think" a certain way, she shuts him up real quick about it. (Believe me, I've seen this and it was quite scary! lol)
With every character trait, of course, there are down=sides. Being this way can certainly be negative on some level. I will never have the child who the teacher calls "quiet and unassuming." Other kids can call you a "know=it-all" when you're simply being confident (Delaney prides herself in being well-liked, so she was quite upset to learn that there is one girl in one of her classes "who hates me because she thinks I'm a snoot."). And, if you're not careful, being a strong young woman can make you mature a little too quickly (I am known to say to McKenna, "You can think about college later. You're only young once!")
So, I'm actually quite proud of my girls' characters. Both McKenna and Delaney are sweet and smart girls; they are social and have lots of friends. And...yes...they know how to stand on their own! They will make decisions based on their own passions and opinions and convictions. And I think that's a really good thing!
I guess it all comes back to the talks I have given to them over the years, starting really when they could barely talk themselves. I have said, "You can do anything you put your mind to!", "Go for it!" and "Be a leader, not a follower" (my very FAVORITE!) more times than I can remember.
So....that all brings us back to Daughter Number 3.
Is there any way that she would let these talks go in one ear and out the other?
Is there any way that with two older, strong, in-the=spotlight-sisters, she would choose to be my quiet and shy and in-the-background daughter?
You've got to be kidding, right?
For evidence that I believe Sydney will be another Strong and Confident Wray, I give you a little story and some photographic proof from Skit Night at our church camp this past weekend.
I knew that Sydney might want to do something on stage for Skit Night, so I packed her leotard, tights, ballet shoes, and tutu in her suitcase just in case. I figured I'd ask her if she'd like to dance for everyone and if she wanted to, that was cool. If not, no big deal.
When I told her about skit nigh and her ballet clothes, she told me she wasn't going to do a dance.
"I already know what I'm gonna do," she told me. "I'm gonna do karate jumps."
I tried my best not to laugh out loud. Karate jumps? Does my child take karate lesson? Where would she have ever gotten that idea?
But, she was determined to do it and I told her that I think that would be great and I couldn't wait to see her do it.
Once Delaney got wind that Sydney was performing, she put her on the talent list and she was the first person up on stage. While Sydney waited patiently on stage (no fear on her face, just a big ole smile!), our emcee announced that "our first act will be a performance by martial arts expert Sydney Wray." To the tune of "Rock Star" by Hannah Montana (of course!), she did the cutest little performance. Kicked and jumped and did her hand motions and made that karate sound "hi-yaaa." She even asked one of the teenage boys to come on stage and she promptly knocked him out.
It was precious; she got big cheers; and then she bowed for everyone (I wish I had that picture!).
(then, after the karate "demonstration," she was the only one of the preschoolers who would get up and sing the song they had all practiced together. Yep, there she is. Singing all by herself to the crowd! lol)
And that's when I had someone come up to me, laughing, and say, "Cheryl, you should really encourage your children to not be so shy."