The first rule of parenting is that things never go as they are planned.
I got an invitation to my son’s preschool art show, where he would be performing and also have some art displayed. I got really excited. The early childhood educator in me had some doubts, of course, and I think in the pit of my stomach I had uncertainty. But the mommy in me was excited and hopeful to see my little boy on stage singing for an audience. I know that putting kids on a big stage in front of lots of people is not the best way to build their social-emotional competence, but I also know it’s pretty darn cute. So what if there are children crying if I can see my son in his white space t-shirt that he painted himself?
Ev was excited, too. He started talking about it a couple weeks prior, practicing his songs at home and talking about the stage. I told myself if he was excited, then I was allowed to be excited.
The evening of the event, my husband and I found our seats, ready for the show. Another classroom from Ev’s preschool went first and as they were singing I noticed teachers from Ev’s classroom coming into the auditorium to grab parents whose children were getting upset. I smiled sympathetically and redirected my attention to the show, getting my camera ready to capture Ev’s big moment.
Ev’s classroom started making their way to the stage and I saw him walk out with a teacher. The children started finding their spots and a child started crying. My child. At first he just stood there and cried, seemingly looking for me or my husband. I got very uncomfortable. Not because I was bummed he wasn’t singing, but because he looked scared and I was getting sad and anxious for him. One of the administrators from the program walked out to grab Ev and I hopped up. I found my way to the back of the stage because all I wanted to do was find him and tell him it was going to be okay. As soon as I got to him, he grabbed on to me tight and I asked if he wanted to watch from our seats, which he did. We watched his classmates sing and by the last song that included all of the classrooms, Ev was ready to go back on stage.
Parenting is all about being flexible and adjusting to what happens. I have ideas of how I think things should go, but in reality it always goes differently. For me, as much as I wanted to see my son on stage, Ev’s feelings were more important. It didn’t matter that every other child in the class sang, my child didn’t want to. I was still super proud of him for trying, and for going back up at the end.