Monday, May 23, 2011

Mother's Pride

Those loyal 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.

21 comments:

Steve said...

Wow. What a fantastic transformation! Good for her! :-)

Sarah said...

What fantastic progress! Brilliant news that your daughter is doing so much better and overcoming the bad stuff.

Trish @ Mum's Gone to... said...

What an inspiring story! I'm delighted for both of you. Fingers crossed she will do her solo for the concert but even if she doesn't, this is a huge step.

hausfrau said...

Aaah! I love it when a mummy plan comes together: well done to both of you!

Macy said...

Congratulations to daughter and teacher!
The next step is to forget the bullies entirely and forever. Bullies deserve no less.

the fly in the web said...

What a wonderful teacher!
And you must be so proud of your daughter...with every reason.

Wylye Girl said...

Steve, it has been. She's barely recognisable as the child she was when we left France

Sarah, many thank yous. I feel we have really turned a corner now

Wylye Girl said...

Trish, she knows now that whatever she does, it will never be as terrifying as the first time. I don't care whether or not she sings her solo, this first big step is enough for me. Thanks for your kind words

hausfrau, it has come together better than I ever thought possible

Wylye Girl said...

Macy, I couldn't agree more

Fly, she is a wonderful teacher. I feel lucky to have found her for The Girl's sake

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello:
[A repeat as the previous comment seems to have been swallowed whole]

This is a most moving and, yet, heart warming story. How awful it is that your daughter should have been subjected to such merciless bullying in her younger years. And, how wonderful that you both found a vehicle through which she could regain her 'voice' once more.

We are sure that you care not a jot if she sings solo in the concert and nor would we. For, it is the way in which she has now overcome her fears and can now stand her own ground that matters.

Wylye Girl said...

Hattats, you've hit the nail smartly and directly on the head. Thanks for your words

spudballoo said...

WHOOOO WHOOOO! I'm waving pom poms and applauding wildly...what a fabulous girl you have...and so lucky to have a mother like you. I'm a passionate believer in the power of music to heal and bring together, to build confidence, to act as a leveller. And I totally agree that if you can sing in public you can do anything, anything that you want in life.

I read music and was/am a passionate singer. No matter how glum/weary/ordinary I feel singing picks me up. Any town I move to, any place I go...a choir is a group of instant, brilliant friends. You have done your daughter such a service by giving her the gift of singing!

And I say that as someone terribly bullied at school.

I adored this post, I was with you in the kitchen blubbing. x

Curry Queen said...

That's a huge hurdle she has conquered! She'll never feel the same kind of fear again - well done!

auntiegwen said...

What a fantastic story, that's cheered me up no end, big congratulations all round, to you , to her and to the lovely teacher xxx

Wylye Girl said...

Spudballoo, hello and welcome and thanks so much for the kind words and cheering. I totally agree with you about singing. I don't know if you read back a few posts to the one about my Rock Choir singing at Wembley. It is so uplifting. We've just had rehearsals tonight and finished with 'Get Happy'. How can you not?

Wylye Girl said...

CQ, that's just what I said to her. Every time from now on will never be as scary as this.

Auntiegwen, I fill up just thinking about it. Glad it cheered you up xxx

Dumdad said...

What an uplifting, lovely blogpost: daughter is singing wonderfully and proud mum is singing her praises. Good duet!

Wylye Girl said...

Thanks Dumdad, what a lovely way to put it

About Last Weekend said...

This is a fantastic story and I am soaking up all the details of how your daugher is handling a new school and how you have encouraged little by little to become so confident. I have had similar issues with my nine-year old and she is headed to a new school with smaller class sizes. Tallulah really loves singing and writes songs all day long. But is terrified when she gets up on stage (but won't admit it.) She does it, but freezes. I have long thought about getting her a private tutor and this will galvanise me to get cracking!

Perpetua said...

Wylye Girl, this is a fantastic story! No wonder you are proud and what a wonderful way to restore your daughter's battered self-confidence. Singing is good for us in so many ways, physical, psychological and emotional. Hope the concert is a roaring success.

Wylye Girl said...

Perpetua, singing is indeed, good for the soul. We should all sing.... sing.. SING and the world would be happier place

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