It was first-class stage fright — a nightmare of sorts.
At any moment, I might wake up and find that I was wearing my PJs to school, a dream that has haunted me all my life.
But what I was facing on a recent California visit to my twin grandkids’ elementary school presentation was equally as scary. Almost 100 first- through third-grade students were giving me the “gray-haired stare.”
To me, it was the “gray-haired scare.”
The children had been instructed by the lead teacher — a bit gray-haired herself — to focus on the grandparents at the front of the stage. (These were the same grandparents whom only moments before had been relaxing at the back of the auditorium.)
My job, the teacher had announced, was to give a spontaneous statement about my grandchildren, Hunter and Hailey, on Grandparents’ Day. Like the oatmeal we’d had for breakfast, my mind had turned to mush.
Without a second for me to pluck any gray hairs from my head, the kids eyed me searchingly. Suddenly, I was back in first grade, all the classmates and my stern gray-haired teacher looking on as I stood before the over-sized Dick and Jane book propped at the front of the room.
“Lucille,” the schoolmarm would say each reading day, “pick a page from the storybook and read to the class.” My choice was always the same — Dick and Jane shouting, “Help! Help! Help!”
Fast forward to me as a grandparent, and not much has changed.
“Help! Help!” I screamed at my brain on jet-lag, pleading with it to not desert me. Unlike the butterflies that refused to fly in formation, it had fled the scene.
So, I mumbled a few words about Hailey’s creativeness and Hunter’s ability to breakdance. But it wasn’t all that I wanted to say.
A very special part of being their grandma is saying good-night prayers together, tucking them into bed and knowing their last thoughts before they close their eyes are about Jesus.
I wish I’d have said that at the Grandparents’ Day assembly. But at least I can say it now.
After all, I can’t see your “gray-haired stare.”