It is almost impossible to wrangle a busy class of second graders into a quiet line late in the afternoon these days for an assembly–even an assembly as exciting as “Dizzy’s All-American Reading Show” assembly. As the kids were milling about, I almost missed my smallest boy hiding in the corner by the cupboard, tears rolling down his face.
Oh no…we are going to be late. What is the matter THIS time?
I didn’t have a whole lot of patience left with this situation. My little guy was often tearful, and often without much reason. I approached him and tried to find out why he was upset.
“Are we going to the gym to see a clown?” Yes, we are. “Is it the pirate clown?” Well…yes, sometimes she is a pirate clown. And then his verdict…
“I do not like clowns!”
Oh boy. Fortunately I didn’t need to worry long. While I was hurriedly reminding him that Dizzy was our very own special clown in our community and that we loved her very much, two of my other boys came over and took him by the hand.
“Don’t worry…we’ll sit with you!” I took that as a good sign and we headed out the door, my tearful little guy giving me alternating terrified glances and the stink eye all along the way.
As we got seated and I settled in a chair on the side of the gym, I whispered to a colleague about my little guy’s fears. I wasn’t sure he was going to make it through the assembly, as I watched him sitting all folded up, almost with his head beneath his knees. He seemed to be measuring the distance between his seat and the door as the show suddenly started with a bang.
He plugged his ears and the tears ran once again. His two buddies put their arms around him, and soon at least they were laughing at Dizzy’s antics and jokes. As the show continued, my little guy began to relax just a little, but he still looked very, very unhappy.
Before long, Dizzy started looking for volunteers. When she told the kids that she was looking for kids sitting still and straight, my little fellow straightened up for a split second, then ducked down again. Several kids dashed up to the front for a fun interactive skit. He watched, still guarded, but a little bit more intrigued.
By the third time Dizzy needed volunteers, my little guy’s hand was raised right along with his buddies. “He thinks is safe to raise his hand,” I whispered to the teacher next to me. Dizzy was way over on the far side of the gym picking students to come forward.
As Dizzy continued to search for volunteers, his outstretched hand wavered a little bit. In a couple of moments, she was almost right in front of his section of kids. He looked her right in the eye. He kept his hand in the air.
He was chosen.
I stared in disbelief as he shot me a very apprehensive glance but popped up from his place and headed to join the children at the front. Dizzy explained her plan and started handing out props. My little guy soon had a hat plopped on his head, Dizzy even squeezing it and pulling it down over his ears. He kept staring at her, and followed her every direction.
Before long he was working his can opener prop furiously, hat on his head, and a shy but steady smile on his face. As the audience roared with laughter and surprise, his dimples started to pop. And by the time the skit was over, he put his arm across his middle and took a deep formal bow with the other children. As he ran back to his seat, he shot me one last glance that seemed to say,
“Did you SEE me? Did you see me DO THAT?”
My shy little guy has grown by leaps and bounds this year, but nothing showed his triumph more clearly than the day he kept his hand up even though he was scared–and ended up a shining star!