I tried not to project my fears on him. I’m shy; he’s shy. At a gut level, the level of shared experience, I understand that he struggles to answer strangers’ questions. We’re similar in big crowds; we hide on the fringes. The thought of speaking with several eyes gazing our way makes us both very familiar with our toes.
When I picked him up from school, I nervously asked how it went, fully expecting that he said nothing, maybe held out the toy, but let the air hang with the absence of his own voice. But my son dissolved my notion rather matter-of-factly. He shook his head up and down. Of course, he showed off his plane.
“But did you say anything?” I asked, almost accusingly.
“Yes!” he answered with wide eyes. “My teacher told me to turn around and talk. I did, and I told them I brought my Dusty plane.”
His pleased grin overwhelmed my tear ducts. Yes, at the ridiculousness of my toddler talking, with his back facing them, to a group of other toddlers, I felt a familiar deep surge of adoration.
My son was brave.
There’s an ache in me that is desperate for him to know how good, powerful, important and true his voice, his story is. I want him to know his worth. I want him to see himself the way I see him.
As I’ve watched my son struggle with shyness, I’ve realized more about my own struggles. I try to push myself to brave boldness more often, wanting to model what I hope for him, wanting to rest in the joy and peace of believing in the importance of my voice, in the wholeness of my worth.
Strangely enough, my desire to embolden my son, to teach him to speak up, has really been teaching me.
What lessons do you learn from parenting?