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Go Ask Mom

Julia Sims: Stage fright

Posted April 25, 2016
Updated April 26, 2016

Julia Sims with son Will

Growing up, my piano recitals were notorious for being the must-miss event of the year.


My parents still cringe when talking about it. When I would get on stage, I would almost always freeze and I always played the songs in the wrong key. At one point I think, my brother actually boycotted the recitals.

It appeared that family tradition would span generations. Will generally has a distaste for any kind of stage performance. Whether it be at school or at church, he wears the same pouty face, barely moves his lips and shoots daggers with his eyes at the audience ( I think they’re actually aimed at Mike and me).

Two years ago, we just stopped doing the Christmas pageant at church. It wasn’t merry, it was misery. I jokingly referred to Will’s performance as the “bad shepard.”

So, imagine my surprise when Will and his buddy told me they were going to be in the church musical. What???? (I thought for sure some alien-type species had invaded my son’s body.) Everything seemed to be going along just fine, until it wasn’t.

I got an email from the children’s director thanking Will in advance for leading the choir in a response piece. I mentioned it to Will and showed him his lines she’d sent.

Holy smokes, I thought the boy was going to pass out: His eyes got as big as saucers, his face as red as a beet. And then he said it “I don’t want to do it.” Only it sounded like: “I. DON’T. WANT. TO. DO. IT. "

So, I explained you just can't quit once you make a commitment. I told him his friends were depending on him.

Well, on Sunday, Mike and I sat in on the rehearsal. The program director gently suggested Will come to the front of the stage and say his lines into the microphone. He did it with one hand in his pocket, the other repeatedly wiping one side of his face. I think Mike and I both wanted to grab him and run out of the sanctuary.

Once the program started, all the children were really into it. They had energy and smiles! And then there was Will. The pout and the stink eye fully present.

Then, something wonderful happened. He stepped up to the microphone and with a loud, clear and strong voice, he did it! Knocked it out of the park! I thought Mike and I would jump out of the pew and shout "hallelujah!" Instead, we both just sat there stunned. Happily stunned, eyes filled with tears.

The program director and youth director had given him courage and confidence. And I will be forever grateful for that. Will was as proud of himself as he was relieved.

That night I called my dad to tell him what happened. He let out a huge laugh and said "I remember a little girl and her piano ..."

Julia is the mom of one and a reporter for WRAL-TV. She writes monthly for Go Ask Mom.

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  • Amomoftwo Apr 26, 2016

    Loved this story! So thankful for children's directors and youth leaders who see untapped potential in our children. My oldest was given the lead in the children's Christmas program when we had only been church members for 2 months! Never been on stage and we were flipping out...but not only did she do a great job, she developed some great friendships that have followed her through her life!