This weekend, my little Punkin Boy gave a talk in church for the first time. Yes, he is 4 years old, and yes, that's probably weird in any culture other than the one I belong to. It's just what we do. With most people, I think it helps them become better public speakers over the years, so generally, it's a good thing.
TM and I went to watch him. For those who are unaware, during the second hour of our Sunday meetings, the kids ages 3 to 7 gather for "Sharing Time" and for another hour in individual classes. (The older kids do classes first.) Talks happen during "Sharing Time."
I was really nervous for him. I still remember my first talk when I was 4. I had prepared a really good talk (I thought) on the story of Jonah. I wrote it all out and was ready (though a little scared) to give it when the time came. But I guess I was a little too timid. My voice apparently didn't carry to the back of the room, and some kids commented on it. The nice lady who was in charge thought my talk was so good (so the story goes) that she felt everyone should hear it. But since my voice was too quiet, she took my notes out of my hand and read them again.
I was so humiliated I wanted to die-- not just then, but every time anyone has ever asked me to give a talk in church since then. I have had to rudely run away or hang up on people once or twice without explaining because I felt that I must throw up right now. How embarrassing. You'd think I'd get over it, especially after all these years and all those speech classes. But no.
I sat there at the back of the room, clutching my husband's hand and trying to smile instead of panic on behalf of my baby. I realized that nowadays there are microphones at the podium so that nobody has to go through what I did. (Of course it was all about me.) And Punkin Boy stepped right up to the microphone and started to read out his talk (on Ephesians Ch. 6) just as bold as you please.
But then it hit me: someone had turned off the microphone earlier and hadn't turned it back on! I panicked. I trembled in my seat. I wanted to cry or yell at someone, "Don't do this to my baby!" I was terrified and could just about see the whole scenario repeating itself. Then one of the "nice ladies in charge" got up-- my life flashed before my eyes-- and turned the microphone back on.
Whew! Punkin Boy had another couple sentences to go and hadn't noticed a thing. He finished reading, nodded to the audience, and went back to his seat smiling proudly. I could hardly keep back the tears. "Good job, baby," I whispered, and he ran to me and climbed on my lap for a hug. Crisis averted. Happy times.