After 13 years, 12 and 9 (respectively), I think that I know my children pretty well. If you asked me to describe their characters, likes and dislikes, future aspirations, I could reel off a pretty accurate summary. But as with everything, children like to keep us on our toes. Just when I think I've got them sussed, they go and do something to prove me wrong....
The Boy is placid, shy and fairly unassuming. He is also funny, kind and very helpful. What he isn't, is confident, outspoken and seeking the limelight. In fact he is the exact opposite. When The Boy came home from school a few weeks ago, announcing that the school play auditions had taken place, I didn't take much notice. In fact I had momentarily forgotten that a school play was even taking place. Partly because that's what happens when you have a third child but mainly because I knew he wouldn't want a speaking part.
A week later, he came out of school in his usual care-free manner; not excited and whooping like some of his peers. He was however, chatting rather animatedly to a school mate and clutching something that looked distinctly like a script. Yes, my boy had only gone and got himself a speaking part - with 40 lines no less (if you have a child in junior school, you will know just how important it is to document the exact number of lines)!
This news shocked me, thrilled me and terrified me all at the same time. My little boy, the one who struggles to even speak to an adult without blushing, right there on centre stage in front of 150 people? I honestly couldn't imagine it.
We spent hours running through the lines - The Tween, The Boy and I. Occasionally even The Teenager joined in. I think his sisters were secretly very proud of him; despite their best efforts, neither of them had ever had such big speaking parts in the junior school play. He was certainly well prepared and taking the job very seriously (probably one of the reasons why he was picked for the part).
The big day arrived. The Tween had asked if she could come along and I was just pleased to have someone beside me to take my mind off the nerves! I had subtly prepped her to encourage and congratulate him, no matter what his performance was like. I knew that this was pushing him out of his comfort zone and I didn't want anything to challenge his bravery.
Well I needn't have worried. He wasn't the best, or the funniest; he wasn't the one who got the loudest cheer, but he totally bowled me over. I saw a different boy up there on the stage: one who had responsibly learnt every line and delivered them with ease; one who had matured and grown in confidence, almost without me noticing.
Here's the thing: I think we often underestimate our children, making decisions for them based on past history; making assumptions about their personalities when they are still a work of art. I had drawn conclusions about my boy which were inaccurate and yes, he had proved me wrong again. Thankfully, this time it was a good wrong and one I was very proud of :)