My Son: From Shy Young Preschooler to Confident 12-Year-Old
My husband and I couldn’t believe the day had come.
It was the evening of Monday, June 13, 2022, and we were sitting in Park Street Church excitedly awaiting the start of the event. The venue was very familiar to us as we had attended many Park Street School events here over the years. But this time was different. Our oldest son, Ben, would have his last time on the stage as a PSS student – it was his sixth-grade graduation ceremony after attending the school for ten years.
While sitting in the pews amongst proud family members and faculty, I couldn’t help but think back to the first time Ben had stood on this stage for a PSS event. It was when he was four years old and his preschool class was going to sing as part of an all-school concert.
He and his classmates had worked hard to learn their song and, the night of the event, they each dressed in a tie-dye t-shirt they had made at school. Despite rehearsals, Ben was nervous leading up to the event as he didn’t know what to expect … and his first sight of the large crowd that evening didn’t help. His teachers knew Ben was shy and got apprehensive in new situations, so I’m sure they weren’t too surprised when he ultimately let them know he didn’t want to go up on stage. Being quick on her feet, one of his teachers waved me over and suggested to Ben that I could go with him and hold his hand through the song. Ben reluctantly agreed and we did just that – he stood with his class at the end of the first row of the stands and I crouched next to him. He stood still during the entire song grasping my hand and anxiously looking out into the audience. While I don’t think he opened his mouth once, we were proud that he was able to conquer a fear that evening with the support and encouragement of his teachers (and a little help from me!). Over the coming years, Ben had many more opportunities to spend time on this stage and it would gradually become much more familiar and comfortable to him.
Flash forward to graduation day, and Ben was set to take the stage again – this time wearing his white cap and gown. And, not only would there be a ceremony led by the faculty, but each student would share with the audience highlights about their PSS experience and the impact the school has had on them.
Ben was the first in his class to do this and, when the time came, he confidently stepped forward on stage and proceeded to eloquently share his story – he nailed it! He spoke about his favorite memories at PSS, his lessons learned, and how the school supported him to be his own unique self. I was in awe, especially as I thought about the significant juxtaposition between Ben’s first time on the Park Street Church stage and his last. He had started at PSS as a shy young child and grew into a confident 12-year-old boy at the end of his elementary school years. He was leaving the school with a strong educational foundation and an understanding of what it means to be a person of character. There wasn’t one big event during Ben’s years at the school that made this happen – rather, it was the smaller (and countless!) experiences that consistently happened each day throughout his schooling. PSS creates a unique environment where each child is nurtured, challenged, supported, and encouraged to become the best version of themselves.
That evening, I had never been so happy with our decision to have our two boys attend PSS – and I remember smiling as I looked over at my younger son Max (then in third grade) sitting next to me as I knew he was in the midst of his own incredible journey at the school.
–By Emily Sieger, mom to Ben (PSS Class of 2022) and Max (PSS Class of 2025)