You came to my class last year, a few days after the first day of school. You were petrified and in tears. You barely spoke to me that week and only had the confidence to do so when with your best friend.
You awkwardly danced through our play practices. You stared pleadingly at me when asked to come up in front of the class or answer a question. You glued yourself to a chair when there was any type of physical activity that permitted you to think about how you might be perceived.
You are in my class for the second consecutive year now. You have been chattier with me and other kids. You still don’t participate in the physical aspects of our enrichment programs. (You won’t stretch, you won’t jump. You will, however, retreat to a corner). You still don’t like to come up in front of the class, but you inch slowly and do so. You often whisper when answering a question.
You wouldn’t – you couldn’t – possibly want a speaking part in our play. You would, as a result, be the only student without one.
You told your speech therapist you wanted a part. You told me you wanted a part. You had me feeling skeptical. You realized it would involve speaking into a microphone, on a stage, in front of a lot of people. You nodded, unconvincingly, when I asked if you really wanted to do it.
You were assigned the role of introducing the play. You practiced and practiced and memorized your lines. You walked to the front on cue when we rehearsed. You spoke your part without pauses and without clarity. You rushed. You concerned me and made me question my decision.
You listened when I told you you had to be louder, slower, clearer. You practiced and practiced. You improved. You spoke louder, slower, clearer. You didn’t let your voice rise like a question. You asserted yourself. You gave me goosebumps.
You started to accept yourself in your own skin. You let your shyness inhibit you less. You began to believe in yourself.
You amaze me. You.