Recently we attended a performance of kindergarten to third grade children who had attended an acting camp for a week. There were about a hundred family and friends waiting expectantly in the high school auditorium.
Just as the performance was about to begin, a 3 year-old boy sitting next to me, on his father’s lap, began crying, “It’s too loud. I want to leave. It’s too loud!” His father, trying to soothe him said, “There’s nothing to be afraid of. You’ll like the show. Your sister’s going to be in it.” The little boy became more and more frantic and tried to pull out of his father’s grasp. “It’s too loud! It’s just too loud!”
At that moment, the head of the acting program, a slim, athletic woman dressed in leotards, came off the stage and approached the little boy. “Is this too loud?” she asked, in a voice just above a whisper. The little boy nodded. The director whispered even softer, “Is this too loud?” The little boy shook his head. “This voice is okay, then?” she asked in a whisper. He nodded, transfixed by her smiling, calm face.
“Would you like to come and help me?” she whispered. The little boy nodded, took the director’s hand, and walked with her up on the stage. He then played the piano with her, started laughing, and was the absolute hit of the pre-show. Then he happily came back to his seat, and laughed and smiled throughout the entire performance.
All the little boy needed to calm down and handle his fear was validation. His feelings and observations were respected and fear and trauma were averted.
I sat in awe as this whole process unfolded. The director was just masterful — gentle, sweet and so effective. If only all our parents could have been this way… Thanks