Picture this: A Daddy walks his two little girls (almost 4 and almost 2) up to the front of our church for a kid's song. The kids all get to go up to the front and take a musical instrument -- or let's face it, some of them are just "noise-makers!" -- and "help" the worship team with a song. The 2 year old has a great time, but the 4 year old has other plans. She sits there pouting, arms crossed, lips in the perfect "a-birdie's-going-to-poop-on-your-lip" form. Then she suddenly looks to the back of the church and sees her Mommy. She knew her Mommy was there the whole time, but suddenly she just snaps and runs down the aisle screaming and crying at the top of her lungs, her arms reaching out to her Mommy, tears streaming down her cheeks.
Now picture this: A Mommy and Daddy bring their almost 4 year old girl to VBS at their church for the very first time. On the last night, the Mommy gets to sneak a peak at the group assembly where all the kids (ages 3 - grade 6) gather to sing songs. She sees her little girl way up at the front standing on the pew with all the other kids. She watches her daughter as she sings heartily to Jesus, waving her hands as she participates in the actions, and even as she leans over and laughs with a little girl that she only met 4 days ago.
Of course I'm talking about Joelle -- in both scenarios. And get this -- they happened a mere 2 weeks apart from each other.
Joelle has always suffered with SSS -- "super-shy-syndrome"...yes, I just made that up myself in case you were wondering. It takes her a L-O-O-O-O-O-O-N-G time to warm up to people. Even people she sees on a fairly regular basis. And she absolutely HATES being the center of attention. If someone she doesn't know all that well -- and sometimes even someone that she does know -- asks her a question, she'll duck her head, do the famous "pouting lips" and stare at the ground. Or she'll hug my leg and hide behind me. It can even be a simple comment like "Joelle, I love the pretty flower clips in your hair." Even that can be too much for her. She likes to be in a comfortable environment with only a handful of people around her with no attention on her. I suppose she's a lot like her mother in that way.
So I was wondering how she would do with this new VBS experience. Sure, it was in her own familiar church and yes I pulled some strings to get her into her Grandpa's class (I wasn't trying to play favoritism, I was just acting in everybody's best interest!!), but I was still wondering how she would really do. And yes, it did take her a little while to get into it the first night -- but she never once came out crying or asking for her mommy. And even when I was going around the church last night as the designated photographer and she saw me poke my head into her classroom at one point she just looked up at me, smiled and gave a hearty "Hi Mommy!" and went right back to her activites. She didn't jump up and want me to hold her or stay with her. She just went right back to doing her thing with her friends. I left the room without incident.
I was so incredibly proud of my little girl. While I was watching her sing her heart out in that big group of kids (most of whom she didn't know), I choked up a little bit. And not because I was sad that she didn't need me there with her. Quite the opposite. I was HAPPY that she didn't need me there with her. Happy that she was capable to overcome some of her shy-ness and make new friends and participate full-heartedly in the fun activities. Happy that she learned a little bit of independence. Happy that she could leave Mommy and Daddy behind and venture into a new world with a brave smile on her face.