b ~ I know the voices dying with a dying fall

Once you get over the hurdle of the carpool schedule (this year
required a spreadsheet), the best part of being the chauffer to play
practice is the conversations you hear in the car. Some parents I know
have even confessed to turning up the music on the back speakers so
that the kids will talk louder. Me, I just go about my business,
taking everyone where they need to go; shuttling them safely from one
destination to the other. The great thing about drama kids, is that
they will almost always sing. They are not what one would term shy or
inhibited. M came home after driving several nights last week while
being serenaded, a big grin on his face. When I was driving, the girls
talked about the upcoming talent show and then they broke out into a
chorus of “Popular” from Wicked. I breathed a sigh of relief that
times had changed. In my day it would have been lyrics from Chorus
Line. I think all that singing about “T and A” in my little car would
have made me claustrophobic.

One of the little details I learned is that one of the girls had
recently injured herself. She explained to the other passengers that,
ironically enough, she had actually hurt herself falling up the
stairs. This was just the beginning, as someone else then chimed in
with the ways that they had gotten hurt during the play. And my heart
went out to them. In just a few short months these kids have worked so
hard to put together an original musical with brand new songs—written
just for them. For some the dance moves alone were enough to send them
packing to any sports team that would have them. Drama can be more
physically demanding than one would think. This play was especially
challenging, since several of the young actors had to be strapped into
a harness to learn how to fly. On the night of the actual performance,
I could hear several audience members suck in a collective breath
whenever anyone on stage started to leave the ground. Not so for the
parents watching. We began holding our breaths the moment our kids
took the stage. We know that it’s not easy putting yourself out there;
it takes a special kind of courage to perform. To be brave night after
night. To know that you could flop, to risk making the kinds of
mistakes that hundreds of people will bear witness to. But being in
front of an audience also provides you with an opportunity to put on a
costume and pretend; a chance to step out of your life to fully
inhabit another persona. And some of these kids do it so amazingly
well, sucking up the attention in the room as if they were a sponge
after a spill. They put their whole heart and soul into it, and it’s
hard not to be captivated. They don’t casually slip or trip when the
script calls for it, but they fall with a dying fall; convincing you
that what you see is real. That the world beyond the stage has
magically fallen away and all you are left with is this one true
thing.

As parents we might have cause to wonder if all of those hours playing
dress up as a young child have led to this. If those overplayed
reactions to your dinners that they didn’t like (throats clutched in
apparent agony) were laying the foundation for these future thespians.
For some teens it’s a calling, a chance to show their most passionate
selves. Yet putting yourself on display seems like asking for
heartache. And somehow I’ve always felt in my gut that I needed to
steer my son from that edge. I’m one of those moms who’ll throw up her
arms in defense, even if it looks like a speeding train is coming down
the track. I’ve often imagined myself on the cover of a tabloid
magazine picking up a car with my bare hands to free a trapped child.
Hey, with enough adrenaline, anything’s possible. And yet I’ve never
wanted to be stage parent, though maybe it’s just one of the roles
I’ve been asked to play (I did star in my own share of high school
musicals.) As much as T enjoys reading, writing and a myriad of Other
Things That Can Be Used for a Future Career with Financial Stability,
I see how he loves to perform. He is a clown in search of a circus. So
when duty calls, I put on my chauffer cap and take him and his friends
where they need to go. And on the night of the performance, after I
finally exhale, I’m the one clapping the loudest.

About andi

Writer, editor, wrangler of small boys and dogs.

One comment

  1. vtbee

    So beautifully said, Beth. T is lucky to have you!

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