people with nothing else to do in their life followers of my previous bloggie incarnations will remember that I have talked in the past about The Girl being bullied at school in France. I'm not going to go into details suffice to say that she was subjected to a 6 month campaign of verbal and physical agression and humiliation from a group of girls who were supposed to be her 'best friends'. It turned my outgoing, confident, bright child into a nervous wreck, full of self-doubt and with a very poor image of herself.
When we moved back to the UK she was very, very careful about who she made friends with, starting off with one girl she felt she could trust. I wasn't happy about this 'one friend' policy but in the end she chose the right girl and she remains fiercely loyal to her, only last week taking on one of the nastiest girls in school who was insulting her friend. She may not be particularly streetwise but she has a rapier wit that floors even the toughest adversary.
But that's not what I want to write about. She's always loved singing and has a good voice, although I could never persuade her that she did, so about 6 months ago I suggested that she might like to have singing lessons. I thought it might help her confidence. If you can lay yourself bare by singing to someone, I think you can do just about anything. She refused point blank. I left it for a while but the seed was planted. A short while later she asked if I would look into it. I was recommended a singing teacher by a friend and the moment I contacted her I knew she was just what The Girl needed. She was young and bubbly and she favoured pop songs and songs from the musicals over scales and arpeggios. Even better, she was in the process of doing a Masters in music psychology, her chosen subject, 'the use of singing to build confidence'. How perfect was that?
We arrived for her first lesson with The Girl looking pale and nervous. I didn't stay but left them to it. The Girl and her teacher hit it off straight away. Over the six months she's been taking lessons I've seen her confidence return, her belief in herself grow and her circle of friends increase. She's now firmly part of a group of really lovely girls who I know will always stand up for her if she needs it. She will even, on occasion, sing for me.
A few weeks ago she arrived back with a note in her music book about a concert her teacher was putting on in town in aid of Breast Cancer Research. She's been asked to sing a solo. She refused point blank. We talked about it but she was adamant that she would not sing on her own. She happily joined the small choir (along with me - "that's too weird, Mum") that her teacher has put together but a solo, na-ah, now way, not in your lifetime.
Sunday was our first rehearsal. We ran through the numbers that the choir is doing, Mamma Mia, Lean on Me, I Feel Good, then it was time for the soloists to stay behind to practice their songs. The Girl asked if we could stay to listen.
At the end, just as we were about to go, her teacher asked her if there was any way she could persuade her to sing 'Castle in the Clouds' from Les Miserables. I stopped in my tracks waiting to hear what she would say. Instead of the point blank refusal I was expecting, she hesitated. "I'll sing it with you..." her teacher promised. To my absolute amazement she agreed. My daughter, the one who didn't even believe she could sing 6 months ago, was going to sing on her own (more or less) to a room full of people she didn't know.
The Girl asked me to go out into the kitchen of the hall we were rehearsing in. I felt quite sick. Half of me wanted her to do it to prove to herself she could, the other wanted to grab her and run, just in a case it all went horribly wrong. There were some amazing singers in the room and I hated the thought of her feeling she had made a fool of herself.
I waited in the kitchen door where I could just about see her. I could see her knees shaking. Her teacher played the introduction and took a deep breath as if she was going to sing along. Of course she didn't! After a slightly wobbly start I could feel The Girl relax into her voice. Her confidence grew and by the end of the song she was belting it out like a Diva. It was one of the proudest moments of my life to see my daughter confront her fear head on and succeed. I'm not ashamed to say I blubbed like a baby in the kitchen doorway - and all the way to the supermarket afterwards. She got a huge cheer from the people in the room, none of whom knew her story but had an inkling that something wonderful had just happened. Behind her back, her teacher, who does know her story, not that The Girl knows she does, gave me a beaming smile and a thumbs up.
Her teacher has told her that she'll leave a space for her in the program to sing at the concert if she wants to Will she? I don't know but she's asked me to postpone a weekend away to her grandparents so she can get in an extra singing lesson. Whatever she decides, I don't care. Just to see the transformation in her is enough. I am one very, very proud mother.