Today was a nerve-wracking day for myself and DH (who wasn’t even here).
It was the day of the end-of-term talent show. Called ‘2JW’s Got Talent’, it was a more elaborate version of the end-of-term concerts we’re all used to attending – with judges.
DH and I were terrified.
We’d known about it for a week, and were aware the children had been practising their routines (magic, miming, jokes, lip singing, football skills, etc) in groups at school. Son1 had partnered with a friend, but then they’d broken up, and rather than join another group, Son1 had decided he’d go solo.
“Really?” we enquired, astounded that our shy son (who’s had to be encouraged to speak up in class) would even consider a solo performance. When he told us he was doing a dance, our astonishment grew.
The night before, I tried to find out from him if he really was going to bust some moves to one of his favourite songs, Meet the Girls of Norway (!), in front of at least 25 mums and dads with cameras, several teachers and all his class mates.
He got off the sofa, gave his body a shake, then – with arms and legs splaying everywhere – did a crazy four-second dance, which ended with him throwing himself on the floor.
Let’s just say, this didn’t put my nerves at ease, and as I drove to school today, I felt like I was going to an audition myself.
But, you know what, I’d totally underestimated his ‘talent’ – and I don’t mean the dancing (although actually the dance was great, even half-choreographed, with girl backing dancers). I mean the ability to get up in front of a crowd and perform, without feeling embarrassed or struck dumb with stage fright – and that goes for all the children.
There were, of course, the natural performers – in particular, the girl in a flouncy, tiered dress with fluttery eyelashes, lip singing to a song from Frozen and loving her moment of fame. And there were several boys who enjoyed their comedy act so much I thought we’d still be sat there at dinnertime listening to jokes (the teacher must have thought so too, as I noticed her desperately signaling to them to wind it up).
But, even the shyer children came across as confident youngsters. And that I realised, is one of the big benefits of education today – the belief and courage being instilled in these kids that they can express themselves, give presentations and think outside of the box. (In a few years’ time, the school has them attending mock UN conventions, and pitching entrepreneurial ideas in business clothes.)
“Were you nervous?” I asked Son1 this evening (just the thought of public speaking makes me shudder). “A bit,” he replied, “but then the teacher suggested I could have girls-of-Norway backing dancers.”
And that did the trick. Smart move.