Where Joy Resides

November 3, 2013 at 8:12 pm (Community, Faith, Kids) (, , )

My oldest child is in another professional play. She’s having a good season, it must be said. She had just finished one play when she started rehearsals for the next gig. Like seriously, the very next day. And she’s been spending HOURS downtown at rehearsal. My life, for the next two months, is chaffeusing. (I made that word up, I’m very proud of it, and I like how it sounds way more than what it means). In fact, our communal schedule is so bananas, we gave her a phone. And yes, the fact that I am now the kind of parent who gives a ten-year-old (almost eleven) a phone is horrifying. In fairness, it’s not hers to keep, it’s just so that when I drop her off in front of the theater, double-parked in heavy traffic with the blinkers on, my throat hoarse from cursing the other drivers on the way downtown, she can run out and text me from the fourth floor, “Hey Mommy” – she still calls me ‘mommy,’ the darling, darling girl – “I made it. I’m safe. I’ll see you at 9.” Actually, her first morning with the phone she texted me three times, saying “Mommy, I love you so so so much.” Frankly, I don’t know why we didn’t give her one ages ago. I need the affirmation.

Cover girl

Cover girl

Anyway. Yesterday the director and the children’s director and the stage managers were kind enough to meet with the clueless parents to try to explain the mysteries of producing a show. I had 82 questions about how to read the call sheet, explaining who is expected at rehearsal when. If Riley isn’t cast there again, I’m sure it will be my fault. “The kid is great, but that mom is pretty dim – I have serious concerns about the gene pool…” I appreciated the director’s honesty as he explained that while he hopes that the kids have a good experience, it isn’t his paramount goal…that putting on the very best production they can is of primary importance. And then he thanked us. HE thanked US…for letting them have our kids, and for driving, and for shifting schedules and all the rest. He has a two-year-old, he said, so he isn’t there yet, but he recognizes how difficult the demands of the show will be. It was a nice gesture, but here’s what I would have said if I hadn’t been on my best behavior.

“Are you effing kidding me? Listen, your kid is two, so you’re stuck playing with Little People and watching Backyardigans and running around trying to make sure she doesn’t kill herself, so you don’t know this yet, but let me tell you something. Watching your kid discover what she loves is one of the most magnificent experiences a parent can have. Seeing her be good at that thing is sublime. And if she has success at that thing that she loves and is good at? That is one of the most profound joys you can have, I think. At least it is for me.

My daughter has come home from rehearsal every day glowing. Seriously, she is glowing, like an alien or an angel. Her happiness wells up from her toes and explodes out of her mouth in happy chatter all the way home. She is delirious to go to rehearsal and disappointed when she doesn’t. And this magic is not just stagecraft. She’s so happy and confident, she’s doing things she’s never done before, like scoring goals in soccer, and walking home by herself from the store. She even likes school a little bit now, which hasn’t been the case since kindergarten. So thank you. Thank YOU. Thank you for the opportunity, and for recognizing the pure gold from which my daughter’s heart is fashioned. You have excellent taste, and I promise, she’s way smarter than I am.”

Pearl S. Buck said that “Growth itself contains the germ of happiness.” I think sometimes in this parenting business we fail to see that. Family life is challenging and growing pains hurt, duh. The minutia of day-to-day life can be pretty soul-sucking. So I am so freaking grateful for this tsunami of joy that has entered our household. I’m gonna dive in and enjoy the ride.

“And, the true realism, always and everywhere, is that of the poets: to find out where joy resides, and give it a voice far beyond singing. For to miss the joy is to miss all. In the joy of the actors lies the sense of any action.”
Robert Louis Stevenson


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On Trick or Treating and Growing Up

October 24, 2012 at 10:46 pm (Kids) (, , , , )

My nine year old won’t be able to trick or treat for Halloween this year, but before we cry sugary tears for her, here’s the reason. She has rehearsal for the professional play she’s in. I would have given my eyeteeth, if I knew what those were, to be in a professional play when I was nine. Heck, I’d give ’em to be in one now that I’m 40. She took the news on the chin. “It’s a sacrifice you have to make in order to have this amazing opportunity,” I said. “I know,” she said, willing the tears in her eyes not to fall. “It’s only one year,” I said. “There will be other Halloweens,” I said. “I know,” she said, with a subtext of “Stop talking, Mom, before I lose it.”

While I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the loss of candy, I do feel for her. It’s a grown-up thing she’s having to do, giving up one fantastic thing, in order to do another. And I realized something in this, my tenth year of parenting, kids don’t fly the nest all at once. It’s incremental…they leave by degrees.

When I dropped my little drama queen off for her first rehearsal, she took a big step towards adulthood. It was scary for her to shoulder her backpack and walk into the rehearsal room by herself. Her big brown eyes pleaded with me, both to go with her, and to stay back, to tell her what to do and to give her space to figure it out on her own. As I settled for a super-cheesey double thumbs-up, she gritted her jaw in a way familiar to anyone who knows her grandfather, and marched in. I watched her in awe. Awe. And then I cried a little bit. And then I went home and told Sam about it and he cried a little bit too.

And I feel sad for her about giving up Halloween, although I guess she can console herself with the fact that she gets to wear a costume a bunch more times than just once for trick or treating.

Monkey girl

Monkey girl

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Words to Live By

July 16, 2011 at 2:18 am (Community, Kids) (, , )

My oldest finished theater camp today.  She was Violet Beauregard from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for her scene study, a marine biologist traveling to Atlantis for her Creative Drama class and a loopy hippy for Improv.  She was wondrous, as were all the other children who began the final presentation today shouting this at the top of their lungs:

“‘I can’t’ is NOT in my vocabulary!

I take RISKS!

I CONQUER my fears!

I am not afraid to LEAD!”

Man, can you believe that there are people who think arts education is dispensable?

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