SHY, three seemingly innocuous letters that together can become very powerful with the ability to hold you back and stop you growing into a strong, confident person. I’m speaking from personal experience here as in various stages in my life this has been me. I talked in another post about Jade and people’s, (normally strangers) reactions to her not being forthcoming when they spoke to her. “Oh, are you shy?” It drove me nuts. I didn’t want to make a big fuss about it in front of her but also didn’t want to leave it hanging. I’d explain that she didn’t know them and maybe different if and when she felt more comfortable.
I get a lot of parents when booking me for parties saying things like, “My son’s very shy, he won’t want to help you,” or “My daughter might start crying if you ask her to help / if she has to stand up in front of everyone.” I get that, I understand that every child is different. For every child that’s happy parading in front of everyone playing the joker there’s another who might feel sick just at the thought of standing at the front. Whilst I love being the entertainer for every child I see, it’s the ones that are reticent and unsure that give me the most satisfaction.
Below is a recent Facebook post from one of my parties the weekend just gone. I think it pretty much sums up how fortunate I am to be in a position where I can try and connect with children on a level that can result in something magical happening. Yes, I am aware how saccharine charged that sounds. Listen, I get emotional at things like this so give me a break. I can also be level headed so it all evens out in the end.
“Toby’s 4th birthday this morning summed up perfectly why I love what I do so much. When his mum originally booked she explained that he was very shy so I told her that the most important thing for me was that Toby felt comfortable at his own party.
If that meant that he was sitting on his mum or dad’s lap the whole time then that was absolutely fine. I would never dream of pushing a child to help or join in if they don’t want to.
When I spoke to her last week she told me that if I spoke to him he would probably burst out crying and if I asked him to help with a trick he would definitely burst out crying and run away. I said that if it was ok, I’ll see how he is and take it from there. I didn’t want to not even give him a chance. I’ll be honest though, I was a little nervous about his party.
When I arrived this morning he was hiding behind him mum so I just came in and started setting up. He had an older brother (7) who I spoke to. After about ten minutes I noticed he was looking at me so just gently waved. He ran away and hid. A few minutes later I was with his mum looking at the cake and he came up and said, “It’s a rainbow cake.” That felt like my invitation to make contact. I asked him if it was his birthday cake and we started talking about it.
I then asked him about his Paw Patrol trousers and we talked about the Paw Patrol characters and Thomas the Tank Engine (his fave). By the time the party started he was happily running around with his friends.
He sat right at the front and when it was time for the birthday trick I looked at him, smiled, gave him the sign (2 thumbs up) and he came running up with a big grin on his face. He not only stayed and helped but laughed, was completely engaged and was an absolute star. He came up again for a trick with his dad before lunch.
At the break his Grand parents came to see me separately to thank me and voice their astonishment that he did what he did. I only met him today but felt so proud of him for finding the confidence and strength to come and stand in front of everyone with a strange man next to him.
After lunch he came up again for the Mr Banana Head race game where he wore a big birthday cake hat then danced up and down during the game with a massive grin on his face. That same grin was on my face as I left. His Grandma was speaking to me afterwards and said she found the party totally joyous. I explained that all I want from my parties is for everyone to have the best time possible for the whole time they are there. Maybe that’s what she picked up on.
All I know is that a little boy who was scared of getting involved, being in front of people etc found the courage to do so and maybe today will give him the strength to do so again in the future. Maybe I’m being a bit dramatic here but it’s how I feel. I was honoured to see him today and the difference with him from when I arrived to when I left was massive.
Happy birthday Toby, you were a star. By the way, did I say that I love my job. Yes I did and I do. #totallyblessed”
Until next time everyone. Thanks for reading and if you’d like to read more from a slightly odd man just sign up at the top of the page.