Papa I’m a Shy Girl

The Next Family

By: Joey Uva

Yesterday was my daughter’s preschool graduation.  I decided to work from home part day so I could get gifts and flowers for all six of the teachers at the preschool.   My partner Trevor would be home in the afternoon and then we’d be off to the graduation with gifts and flowers in hand.  I was very excited and Grace has been talking about all the songs she was learning for quite some time.

Trevor and I arrived at the preschool about an hour early.  There were fourteen little chairs with the graduates’ names on them all in a row and directly across about forty white chairs for all the parents and families.  The children would sing songs and walk up and get their preschool diploma.  No other parents or families had arrived, so we handed out the gifts and flowers and decided we’d leave for a coffee and come back in about thirty minutes.

We arrived back at the preschool and found our seats in the front row where some other early arrivals had claimed their seats as well.   Trevor and I sat patiently waiting for Grace to arrive; she is normally with the “mamas” on Tuesday.  As Trevor and I sat there, four and five year-old graduates arrived all dressed up with the girls in beautiful dresses and the boys in proper boy attire; one of the boys was dressed just like his dad, all business pants and shirt -so cute!  I finally see Grace; she looks perfectly beautiful in what she calls her mermaid dress. One of her teachers was walking her to the classroom where they were about to begin.

After waiting about ten minutes, the children come out one-by-one with star-shaped sunglasses on, all except for Grace.  She tends to be shy, and seeing the missing sunglasses was a clear indication that her shyness had kicked in.  First item on the agenda: the Pledge of Allegiance.  Everyone stood up and recited from memory of years gone by while the children did their very best to stay on track and enunciate all the words correctly.  It was time for the first song; all the children began to sing, some louder than others and some very softly.  Grace was barely singing, she looked around to see if she could find her mom who was standing towards the back, then she looked at me, back to her mom with a wave gesture, then back to me -she was nervous.  Five songs later and Grace was still not really singing and her beautiful face looking a little more frightened by having to stand up in front of all these people.  Finally, the songs were over. I thought, “Whew, she made it” but then it was time to call each child by name to walk up and get their preschool diploma from their teacher.  Of course, Grace was going to be the last person called and as each child had his or her name called, Grace began to look more worried.  Two children away and Grace would be called, she began to tear up, she looked for mama, and then she looked at me.  Finally, before her name was called she broke down, looked at me and said “Papa, I want to come to you!”… my heart broke.  I waved for her to come over, got out of my seat and we walked to each other, we were both now in front of everyone.  I knelt down, put my arms around her, she cried and said “Papa, I am a shy girl!”  My reply: “I know pumpkin, I love you!”  In that moment, for me, everyone disappeared, nobody in front of us, nobody behind us, next to us or beside us, my daughter and I completely with each other in her time of need.

Grace, Trevor, and I will be in the car, singing and singing and singing.  We have songs we sing together and songs where we must sing certain parts because Grace has assigned us each a part.  We have little dance sessions in the living room with reckless abandon. But put her in front of a group of people to sing or dance and she becomes a shy girl.  I was a very shy child, I understand.

Yes, the “shy girl” on the far right is my child; she’s beautiful and I love her.  I will remember that moment for the rest of my life.

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