16 May 2011

Defying Expectations

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.


  1. Anonymous16.5.11

    They are all different and fun and exhausting and marvelous aren't they?! I think when Daniel and I win the lottery our first vacation destination is going to be The House Of Penii, just to enjoy the activities and help with the laundry. (Don't worry Delia, you'll be on the agenda too!)

  2. Yes, I am up very late but days without the blog are very frustrating. Yes Megan, you were right when you told me I had to learn to text because it was the only way I would be able to communicate with my grandchildren and it has been a joy to do that. Three and I had a text going on Saturday and it was very sweet. I am very proud of his latest venture into unknown worlds. Two is a tough act to follow but perhaps Three is now blazing his own trail. Right on Three! AND congrats Mom and Dad. XXOO

  3. Congrats to Three!

    (humming) I'm gonna wash that man right out of my hair . . .

    If only we could do that with anxiety.

  4. So happy for Three, Meg. I match him up with our Three sometimes-- not because of the athleticism, but for the anxiety and difficulty fitting in with the peer groups at school. And, quite honestly, the things HE does to make the fitting in part more difficult. FRUSTRATING.

    It's easy to categorize them, and such a great surprise when the break out of that so emphatically! Like WE know everything... NOT. Let us know if he continues with this stage career-- we'd love to come see him perform [and Two also].

  5. Oh how cool! Go Three (and devoted mom and dad)!

    PS wanna know how wildly unprepared I am for parenting? I read the beginning of the post and thought Jesus, do moms have to go to the play all three damn nights? Like THAT is the major sacrifice of parenthod. ::headdesk::

  6. In reverse order:
    @Lora: Well, some parents go all three nights, but I go for opening and closing, and send other family members in the middle. And frankly, baseball is more excruciating (sorry, Janet and Carrie).

    @Chrysanthe: Yes, the fitting in. When I picked Three up from his cast party, his nose was running. He told me he'd been dared to snort salt up it. Great. I told him I hoped he hadn't done that IN FRONT OF ANY OF HIS TEACHERS, and then I took the opportunity to talk about cocaine. Yay for teaching moments!

    Two is next in the student play. If I knew when it was, I'd tell you. But I've been relying on Two for that informaiton. 'Nuff said.

    @Carrie: They did a great job with that scene! And, yes, I wish we could wash away everything that hurts them...

    @Norma: I hope you slept late! And I'm glad you texted him. I don't know if he'll continue with the acting, but I hope so, if only for one more year. Middle school is a challenge, and it's nice to be part of something so significant.

    @Julie: Go buy a ticket! We won't even make you do the laundry. And if you time it right, there will be lots of baseball for Daniel to watch!

  7. @Carrie - Now I will be singing that song all day. Fortunately, I like that song. We did the show in High School.

    @Lora - I don't think my parents came every night. in fact, I really doubt it.

    Yay Three! I'm glad he got through it. That's a lot of work.

  8. Nice job, Three! I'm so glad that he enjoyed it. They ask for such a big commitment at that school. So I'm thrilled that it is still fun and rewarding for him. It's a great activity for him.

    @June - They most certainly did not come every night!


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