Imagine waking up one morning, putting on a suit and tie (How many 10-year-old boys like that?), taking a seat inside a bullet-proof black SUV, arriving at a mammoth imposing structure amid controlled chaos, walking among tall bulky men in black suits packing guns in their holsters and stoic military personnel. You are the only child among hundreds of strangers, save for a precious few family.
Double doors swing open to a gray, damp day. There before this 10-year-old boy are hundreds of thousands of people. They are yelling, cheering, booing, and waving signs. Their faces and the words on the signs are indistinguishable. Cameras from all over the world zero in on him, some close enough to see the strands of his hair. A deep-voiced MC booms announcements and introductions. It’s dawning on him that he’s not just witnessing history, he’s a part of that history. And he probably knows—or will soon learn—that history often isn’t kind.
Wouldn’t you be a little out of your element? Wouldn’t you refrain from looking out over that throng? Wouldn’t you just hunker down around your family and try to blend into the staging like a chameleon?
Like this boy, I’m an introvert. At age 55 you’d think I’d have outgrown it. Nope. I don’t like to be the center of attention of more than 20 people. I hate public speaking. The idea of even one camera focused on me freaks me out! Heck, I got nerved up doing a phone interview with a young neighborhood newspaper reporter for an article on my novel. I worry about how the article will turn out and what people will think of me. I’m even a little nervous about my book-signings, but most likely I’ll relax and enjoy them and the people I’ll interact with.
That 10-year-old boy relaxed just a smidgen once he adjusted to the overwhelming spectacle. He played peek-a-boo with his baby nephew as cameras rolled and clicked. He smiled a genuine smile and waved as he walked along a parade route. And, being a boy, he seemed particularly pleased with a dozen gargantuan tractors that lumbered slowly past him.
The name of that 10-year is not needed here. As so many people have pleaded, let that kid be a kid and leave him alone. Let him grow up in as much peace and encouragement as possible so he can determine who he wants to be. And accept the fact that he may always be an introvert.