Performance anxiety

For every parent who’s sat through too many school concerts, read about performance anxiety in Opinion Journal.

When my children were in pre-school, even kindergarten and first grade, I was still in the first glorious blush of motherhood. Thus, when parents were invited to witness movement class with Miss Elizabeth or singing class with Miss Nancy, I was there–in the front row. So what if my son, Matthew, couldn’t skip to his Lou? So what if Karen’s singing had only one thing to recommend it: near inaudibility? The kids were thrilled to be in the spotlight and thrilled that their parents were there to watch them bathe in its glow. But you can lose your virginity only once. OK, maybe three times. There came a day when I could barely stand to look at the listings in the school calendar. Talk about performance anxiety.

I cherish my memories of the musical of “Peter Rabbit” when my daughter was in fifth grade. She played Mrs. Rabbit. And I try to cope my inability to forget the band concert scheduled six weeks after the fourth and fifth graders got their instruments.

About Joanne


  1. The piece by Ms. Kaufman in Friday’s Journal was matched by two stories in an Orange County California publication called “Coast Kids: Parenting OC Style” It’s tossed on driveways throughout the region and mostly contains advertising for the indulged little folk of the area. No, that’s not right. It’s for their parents.
    One story in the “Summer” issue is about working on eating disorders that grow out of body image dilemmas that grow out of trying to squeeze into jeans made for female stick figures. The other was what to do with a child who can’t play sports in a culture that burns incense to games. Both articles were aimed at the parents’ reconciliation with their children’s problem. Yes the parents felt the kids had a problem. It’s all about parents you see, even in Ms. Kaufman’s world. Because when parents like the Kaufmans spend $30,000 a year — don’t believe me check Nightengale’s web side — to send a child to private school in NY; well there is something at work besides the “needs” of children and Ms. Kaufman’s “daze” is pernicious.
    In the current “Education Next” published by Hoover Institute there’s a review authored in part by Nina Rees, of some studies about PreK, suggesting that kids need to start the school stuff earlier in order to have a chance in life. Bear in mind that the pedagogues at work currently have managed to provide dropout rates, as the little ones reach 12th grade, hovering above 50%. No wonder there’s a growing number of parents thinking about educating their kids at home.
    Unfortunately, readers of Opinion Journal won’t see the “Salt and Pepper” cartoon in the Monday paper. It shows two women, one with a small child at her side, talking. The caption reads, “We currently have him in advanced placement preschool.” That cartoon captures Ms. Kaufman’s and so many other’s predicament as they scurry to front load their kids with every activity and experience imaginable, but seem to ignore the most important: spending time with their kids. Proverbs instructs parents to “raise up a child in the way he should go.” On June 17th — that’s a Sunday — at 9 AM, the daughter of a friend will be graduated from University of California at Irvine in ceremonies at the Bren Center on campus.
    For the rest of us it is The 2nd Sunday after Trinity and the Gospel is from Luke: chapter 14, verse 16. That’s the parable about the invitation to the guests who are too busy to eat at the host’s table. So the invitation is extended to the blind, the lame. You get the picture.
    Better we tend to “the Permanent Things” more regularly.