I wrote a story about Nichole singing in Relief Society when she was three years old. There are things I notice about the story looking back.
Overall I’m just so pleased with how I handled it as a parent.
First of all – she knew the song already. There was singing in our home. Or at least in primary, haha.
Second, I helped her practice the song so I was confident she knew it and she would be prepared.
Third, when she didn’t want to practice anymore and said “I already know it!” I backed off and that was enough.
Fourth, before church I asked her if she wanted to stand on the ground or the chair to see all the mommies to sing. She chose the chair. Giving her the choice empowered her to feel like she had some control in the situation. It also let her know an hour or two before what was going to happen – that she was singing today in front of some people and that she had some control. But it also shifted the control from I will or I will not sing to where will I stand when I sing. I don’t think she had any reservations, but when we are facing a hard or vulnerable or scary thing, no matter what the situation, we all like to feel like we have a little control or choice in the matter.
Fifth, we talked briefly through what would happen and went to Sacrament meeting. Doing a quick walk through of how it’s going to play out gives kids such an advantage. They aren’t surprised or side swiped later. They have a picture in their minds of what’s going to happen. They’re going to make the picture anyway, so the closer it is to what actually happens, the fewer surprises and the more anticipation and smooth execution. Giving that little walk through is from the kids perspective. You’ll go to nursery like normal. Then in the middle of nursery mom will come get you. We will go in together and I will stand by you and you will stand on the chair like you want to. Then you’ll sing the song. Then we’ll go back to nursery so you don’t miss the bubbles at the end.
Sixth, when I picked Nichole up from nursery it was snack time and she was worried she wouldn’t get to finish her snack. The nursery leader said she would save it for her, so she decided to come with me. Writing the story with the word “decided” is extremely powerful in my book. If I had just pulled her out of there, me worrying and thinking about the waiting women and teacher, her mind would have been on her snack and not getting to finish it. It’s hard to sing if you are worried about your snack and I could see a tiny meltdown and refusal to sing happen. If that’s what happened – ok – it’s Relief Society. It’s 4 minutes of their lives. No big deal. But it’s totally (mostly) preventable by addressing her real concern that she wouldn’t get to finish her snack and routine.
Seventh, when she got up there she froze a little. But just asked – how did that go again? Once she started, it was fine. Starting is so hard for everyone. Just start. Fumble. Start again. It’ll be ok. And if it’s not it’s 4 minutes of your life. No worries.
Eighth, I love that she was excited when we left the room. Three year olds are little humans and it’s amazing that they already feel excited when they do something brave.
Ninth, I love that we had a tiny talk about how it’s scary to do things in front of people and how good it feels to do something brave.
This whole analysis of this tiny story seems a bit detailed. Who’s going to read this with any interest except maybe Nichole herself? But it’s completely fascinating to me how many different tiny awarenesses and skills you have to have as a parent. It takes not just patience to let kids finish their snack or tell you their concern or stand there trying to remember how it goes or whatever. It’s not just patience, it’s humility – it’s not getting wrapped up in what other people around you are thinking. It’s not getting wrapped up in your part of this tiny performance. It’s humility to honor the wishes and courage of a tiny person still in nursery.
“Ialready know it.”
– Okay, we’ll stop then.
“I want to stand on the chair.”
– Awesome, you can see better
“I’m not done with my snack.”
– Okay, how about we save it for you.