It was a typically busy weekend, but not with the usual activities. There were no baseball games to attend, and hardly any schlepping of teenagers to far-flung locales. Instead, there was The Play. As in, three nights of Boy Three's school production of "South Pacific."
Each year, the middle school theatre department presents an elaborate musical. About one hundred singing, tap-dancing, set-moving students work together for months, under the direction of three very dedicated teachers, to create a stunning showcase. Every time I sit in the darkened all-purpose room, I am astounded by the talent of the young performers.
Two was in every production during his years in attendance. He began in the ensemble for "Grease," had a small speaking part in "42nd Street," and progressed to the dramatic role of Maurice, Belle's father, in "Beauty and the Beast." He knew fairly early on that he wanted to pursue acting, and we've supported that endeavor. But Three's involvement came as a bit of a surprise.
From the time he was very little, Three has always been our athlete. He showed an early propensity for sports of all kinds, and we've logged years of time standing on sidelines and sitting in bleachers. It's been thrilling, and agonizing, because, for every ounce of talent, Three has an equal amount of anxiety. This has manifested itself over the years as "injuries," which prevent him from attending practice, or playing in games. It also sometimes renders him incapable of accepting direction from his coaches, or guidance from his parents, because he twists it in his mind until it becomes paralyzing criticism.
It took many years for us to accept that Three would have to participate in sports on his own terms. I think part of the problem was recognizing that he had a real gift, and feeling like he was squandering it. But mostly, I think we assigned him a role, and expected him to perform. We saw that he had talent, he wanted to play, so we ran with that. Every parent wants to see their child succeed, and I suppose this is the thing we thought he would do best.
So it was a pleasant surprise when he came home and told me he had auditioned for the musical. He knew that it meant a wholesale commitment on his part for three months of almost daily rehearsals. He understood that it would interfere with baseball, and take time away from hanging with his friends. He did it anyway.He made new friends, with kids older and younger, and from different social groups. He learned that he has a good singing voice, and isn't a bad dancer. He had fun.
The Captain and I sat in the audience on opening night and marveled at our boy. In some ways, he's been our most challenging child. Outwardly, he doesn't display any of the issues that affect One or Four, but he shares some of their characteristics. He's a jock, but his best friends are kind of nerdy. He's self-centered, but has a real soft-spot for animals. He continues to confound us, but we like the new thespian-shaped piece in the puzzle. We're proud of him for taking a risk, and we can't wait to see what he'll try next.