My precious little six and three quarters year-old girl is a shy one around grown-ups. With her friends, if she thinks you aren’t watching, she will talk for hours, but not with adults. While she is beginning to show signs of warming up to people more quickly, usually it has taken at least a full year before she will speak to a new person – and longer before she will do it comfortably. Something in her shuts down with a new adult, or even with someone she has known for a while. It just all depends.
For her first ballet recital, she moved for one section of music, which I think was walking in a circle. The remainder of the time, she stood still. Her ballet teacher has been AMAZING working with her.
After three years of ballet, Eden loves Mrs. Tish at Limitless Dance, and will say a few words to her here and there.
On her first day of our homeschool community, I tried to get a picture with the tutor.
It was painful to watch how shy she was. In class, she wouldn’t talk. For presentation time, she would bring something and stand in front of the room. Asking yes/no questions, her teacher would get a few nods here and there. And that was it. After three years in our program, she finally will whisper to the class. I am forever grateful for tutors who have given her space to do this on her own terms and not pushed her too hard. As her mother, I might just not have done that.
But recently, something has boosted her confidence in ways I never could have imagined.
She has been part of a children’s music class with her grandmother for many years – pretty much since she was born. While it was clear she loved music, she was still quiet. She still didn’t like to sing in front of others.
Almost one year ago, after an orchestra petting zoo, she began taking Suzuki violin lessons. Being tiny in size, she requires a 1/16th size violin. For perspective, it is smaller than most toy violins, including her little brother’s. She took to the instrument with a joy I have rarely seen displayed towards something so new to her.
The only sign of her shyness with her violin most days is that she asks me to sit up front by her during group lessons. Our fabulous teacher is so gracious to allow me to do so. She has played boldly for her homeschool class, and this past week, she played for over 50 people in large group (horrible mother was so excited she didn’t get a picture). She has also done a recital for a group of people she had never even met.
You can see the pride beaming in her eyes. When the violin slides out from under her arm and up onto her shoulder, it’s as if her mind is glued to nothing other than her fingers, her bowing, and her teacher. She disappears somewhere inside of herself, and the confidence she plays with far outweighs any behavior I have seen her show only six months into something new.
Over and over again, I have tried to push and provide her with the self-confidence she needs to jump out of her shell, but she wouldn’t have it. Any of it.
When the bow moves across the strings of her violin, it is as it is speaking for her.
If her violin could talk for her, I think it would say, “Just like this instrument, I am fearfully and wonderfully made. First, you must take the time to get to know me – to show me you can care for me and you love me. Then, if you move the bow just right, I will sing a beautiful song. Don’t discount me because I am silent when left alone. I am made for relationships with others, and that is when my song will be heard the loudest and sound the most beautiful. All the pieces must be in place – bow on the right string, wrist straight, fingers on the right place on the strings, and feet shoulder width apart. These things take time to learn correctly, and even still there are setbacks. When a more challenging piece comes along, I may shrink back. But don’t worry, I will grow into it over time. Treat me gently. Tune me when my strings no longer play the right notes, and love me even when I make a mistake and play the wrong note or use the wrong finger or string. Trust that my music will become more beautiful over time as I grow in size and skill. Be patient with me.”
So here I sit, indebted to Suzuki Violin and the amazing Ms. Massey. You have given my girl a voice, a beautiful voice! It’s one she will use to speak to anyone who will listen, even when words fail her. Oh how I love this!
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