When Your Comfort is Less Important Than Someone Else’s

There are certain things that I absolutely do not like to do.  Singing in front of people ranks high on the list.  Especially if it involves hand motions or dancing.  And forget it if I’m not familiar with the song.

It’s amazing how circumstances can affect what you offer to do.

Last night I was the group leader for the 4th and 5th grader group at Vacation Bible School.  Being the last night of VBS, all the groups were getting up one at a time to perform the songs they had been practicing all week in music class.  I was not the group leader the other four nights.  Just the last night.  No problem, though, the group leaders weren’t joining their kids in the theatrics so it didn’t matter that I didn’t know the songs.

My group was the smallest.  With several kids missing, we were down to only four kids: 3 boys and a girl.  A very self-conscious girl.  A very self-conscious girl who was getting more and more anxious about singing in front of the group.

I feel your pain, sister, I thought.  I wouldn’t want to get up there either.

As the oldest group, we were last.  By the time the group before us was heading to the front, a thought came to me.  I didn’t like the thought, but it came and it was right and it was good.

“Would you feel more comfortable if I went up there and sang with you?” I asked.  “Then you wouldn’t be the only girl.  Nor the only person who feels silly.”

“Yes, that would be a lot better,” she said.  I began to share her anxiety.

I looked around the room and reminded myself that it didn’t matter if any of those people thought I looked silly.  The girl would feel less silly and that made it worth it.  I’m forty – she’s ten.  One of our egos is more important to protect than the other’s and it ain’t mine.

And so I joined my little group on the stage, having no clue what songs we were about to sing.  The song leader announced a song that I knew and I breathed a small sigh of relief.  And then my precious angels corrected her – that wasn’t the right song.  I vaguely knew the new one and hung in there well enough.

The second song was from the curriculum so the words and a video of some kids doing the motions were projected on the wall in front of us.  I can handle this, I thought. Almost done.

And then the song started.  My kids started giggling.  They love the song.  Why do they love the song?  Because it gives them a chance to act like they are in Kindergarten.  It was so ridiculously below their grade level that it cracked them up.

Next thing I knew, I was having to roar like a lion and act like a cute kitten and swing my elephant trunk and flap my bird wings and hoot like an owl and jump like a frog.  Three or four times through.  No wonder that girl wanted me up there with her.  No way she was going to attract any attention with a grown woman trying to keep up next to her!

To top it off, they then called all the kids up for the theme song.  The girl checked to make sure I was staying.  And then Hal rushed to join me.  And then the song started.  It was impossibly fast-paced with so many motions that I couldn’t possibly watch the motions and read the lyrics and sing.  So I ended up just holding the cardboard house that kept getting knocked over and hoping that if anyone was video-taping, they weren’t trained on the woman standing there red-faced in the sea of dancing youthful energy.

I think that’s the truest sign of maturity and age, when you willingly give up your dignity for the sake of others.

Addendum:  When I read this to my husband, he said that I was wrong, that the truest sign of maturity and age is when you recognize that you are not giving up your dignity at all.  And he is right.

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Underwear Escapades

The other morning, Hal approached me with a grin on his face.  And quite a number of stuffed animals in his Batman underwear.  They were all riding in the front, some poking up out of the top of his waistband while others poked out the leg holes.

I grinned at him, called him a very silly young man, and suggested that he go get ready for school.

My husband stopped by later to ask if I had seen.  Jane had apparently found this behavior odd.  After five years with the boy, I found her surprise itself to be odd.

After all, her two little brothers had recently decided to don every last pair of underwear they own.. at. the. same. time.  The layers of fabric on their bums had become so thick that they could barely walk and sitting was a particular challenge.

Yet they wobbled around the house like absurd, skinny sumo wrestlers, shrieking with the intoxicating joy of youthful abandon and the feeling that they had just unlocked some previously unheard-of silly activity.

Needless to say, they were affronted when, looking through a “Guinness Book of World Records” style book, they came across a grown man wearing a record-breaking number of underwear pairs.  “He stole our idea!” Daryl exclaimed.

Maybe this was what drove Hal to shove so many miniature stuffed animals into his pants.  Or maybe, considering the large Batman logo on the fly, my husband had it right.

“Maybe this is how Batman came up with the idea of his utility belt,” he said to our baffled daughter.  “He had been carrying all his tools around in his underwear, but a grappling hook is never a good thing to come loose in there.”