Overcoming stage fright

It was hard picturing Fatima Zahra stand up on the stage at her school program. For one, I was worried she would forget the verses of the Surah (Qur’anic chapter) she was reading. But not because of me. FZ is a perfectionist. And if she stumbled over her words, she would be in a bad mood and dwell on it the rest of the day. And maybe even the next day.

But my heart was full of pride as I saw my first born chatting excitedly with her school friends when we arrived at the school. It was a Quran program at school and FZ had been chosen to recite a surah at the program. She would be reciting Surah Ghashiya, a 26-verse surah she had memorized. I couldn’t be prouder of her. She even practiced the lines before time, and the day of the program, when I asked her if she wanted to go over the lines again, just in case, she was adamant that she knew all the words. Alright, alright, I said.

I had been surprised that the fact she would be reciting a surah from memory in front of people didn’t bother her. That was, until, a day before the program. She came up to me and was nervous.

“Mama, I’m going to be scared reading in front of all those people.”

“I know it seems difficult, but just relax and try your hardest. Inshallah you’ll do great.”

When we got to the school, FZ was cool and calm. I was happy that maybe her jitters had disappeared. Soon the girls were called by the teacher to line up and get ready for the program.

Now I could see worry on FZ’s face. She wouldn’t even look at me. One by one girls came up to recite and they did really well. The parents clapped loudly after every recitation. Then the teacher called up FZ and I beamed as I saw her get up and go on the stage.

She grabbed the mic and quietly started reading. In fact she was so quiet, the teacher had to turn up the volume on the microphone. But she kept on reciting. I noticed her right foot tapping the stage, and I couldn’t help but smile. But she kept on reciting. I was recording her reading and as soon as she was done I went back to my seat. FZ climbed off the stage and ran to me, giving me a great big hug. I fought back tears as I held my now big girl and told her how proud I was. She read the whole thing and didn’t forget a word.

Parents are wired with this innate desire to see their kids succeed at everything. That’s why some parents are guilty of actually doing everything for their kids so they don’t have to fail. Ironically this behavior is just setting them up for failure. When kids struggle at certain tasks, they value the outcome more. They learn the value of perseverance. They get a huge boost in their self-confidence and self-esteem.

I would’ve been proud of my daughter no matter how she performed at the program. The fact that she got up on stage, faced total strangers and recited something from memory, is success for me. It means she has confidence and guts. It means I did something right, and that is humbling.

I am so grateful to God for these milestones that are slowly uncovering the young girl with so much potential. To my beautiful, charming, intelligent Fatima Zahra – I love you and am very proud of the strength you have. I pray God gives you success in your life, every step of the way. And when He does, I’ll be right here cheering you along from the sidelines.

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