It was their first workshop at the Science Centre, and for my girl,
her first independent class since leaving School (stressed, fearful, and weakened), over two years ago.
not run by me,
not run by a friend (with me there), and
not run by a teacher (with me there).
It hit her just as we were driving to the Centre.
"So can you stay?" she asked (as she'd asked when I booked them in).
"I'm not sure, sweetheart," I said (as I'd said when I'd booked her in). "There may not be space for me in the room."
"What will you do?"
"Well, if I can't watch, I thought I might go to a coffee shop," I said.
"Oh… I don't know… (pause for worry to sink in)…I'm not sure. I don't think I want to do it."
"I think you'll have a really good time, sweetie. It sounds like a great workshop. And if you want…I could stay just outside, if you like. I brought a book."
"But what if I need you in the class? What if I don't know what to do?"
"Well…You could ask the workshop people for help?"
Which is when my beautiful boy said:
"I'll be there. You can ask me. I can help you."
My girl held onto that, for a while. (And I quietly let go of my coffee shop thought, which had only been a thought, after all.)
We got their name tags at reception. I asked, "Can I watch?" and they said, "It's a really small room. There's probably not enough space." My son's friends had come for the workshop too, so he wandered off, through the Centre, with them. My girl stuck close to me. Then, suddenly, it was time to line up. Kids started to file into the workshop room, great confident loads of them.
There she was, little fish, caught in the stream. She turned. Headed back; looked up at me.
"I don't think I want to do this any more."
Her brother paused. He could have gone in with his buddies, but he waited.
I said to my girl, "I really think you'll have a wonderful time." I smiled.
I said to my boy, "Would you get a seat with her, make sure you're sitting together?"
"Yes," he said. He seemed suddenly bigger then. Big brother. Mission Possible.
And so she turned, again, and went in.
The door to the workshop was open for just a minute or two more. Enough time for my girl to bolt out, like the dudes do in Star Wars, with the doors closing vertically, barely a second to spare, doing that awesome forward roll as the laser bullets shoot past.
But she stayed!
And the rest of the workshop, for me, looked like this:
She stayed, and when she came out, slime in hand—with all that doing done, and learning learned?
"I made a friend!" she said.
Of course you did, I thought. How proud I feel! I thought. How big this step was.
And how simple it seems on the other side. Like when you ski down that slope. Eat that slimy new thing. Jump off that rock. Play your first concert.
You think, Oh, that wasn't bad at all!
After all, you've got your slime. Your brother stuck by you. Your mother waited outside as she promised. You made a friend. You are proud of you.
taken as they opened the doors after 90 minutes…
my girl and boy completely, happily,