The play is alright for a middle school production of Peter Pan. The kid playing Hook is going all out and has crafted a little accent that is a surprisingly accurate depiction of what an evil one-handed hook-wielding pirate might sound like. Mr. Smee could use some character development, but they can’t all be winners, can they?
Wendy and Peter are pretty dang adorable, and there’s this one lost boy who is played by a tiny girl who looks like she’s a little lost boy that was abandoned in a carriage long ago.
Man, these kids are committing.
I may not enjoy children in general, but I’m a huge fan of children’s theatre, especially if the kids sell it. Seeing a kid with little to no acting experience get up on a stage and act their little heart out is one of my favourite things.
Of course, watching children’s theatre is always a gamble because sometimes all you get is a big stinker. The kids can’t remember their lines, or they decide to improvise but don’t have any good jokes up their sleeve, and then it’s up to you, the adult audience, to fake-laugh so as not to inflict a lasting humiliation on the little dud.
However, I’ve been mostly lucky with the productions my kids have been a part of, and they put their all into their plays and concerts.
And inevitably, when I see young humans putting themselves out there and becoming someone else in the name of theatre, I find myself sitting alone in a gymnasium auditorium, quietly crying for the love of the arts.
I don’t want to tear up when my daughter’s jazz band plays an amazing rendition of Secret Agent Man during their winter concert, but I always do. The music reverberates into my soul, and I am left with a rapidly beating heart and soggy eyes — covertly wiping away my tears of absolute wonder and joy.
So, here I am, dabbing at these old, waterlogged peepers once intermission is called during this middle school performance of Peter Pan when out of the corner of my eye, I notice a familiar face.
I wave, hoping my eyes don’t look too bloodshot from all the crying because I don’t want this person to think I’m one of those parents who have to take a few shots or smoke a joint before attending a school function. Even though I may, in fact, be one of those parents.
Just kidding, I’m not. Or maybe I am. You know what? It doesn’t actually matter.
In seconds a co-worker of mine is sitting beside me.
“Hey, I wasn’t expecting to see you here,” I say to Kylie, a warehouse worker at my event rental job.
“Oh yeah, my niece is in the play, so we’re here watching. They are all so cute, aren’t they,” Kylie says excitedly. “Which one is yours?”
I pause for much too long, thinking about how to explain that none of the kids on the stage are mine.
“Actually, my kid is doing the lights,” I reply with perhaps more pride than the task warrants.
“What?” Kylie asks, not understanding.
“Um, you know how the stage lights sometimes flicker when exciting parts happen, and they dim for scene changes — that’s all, Lars!”
“Ahhhh…very cool.” I appreciate her trying to sound enthusiastic.
“My daughter is also in the pit band, doing all of the background music,” I add, thinking I probably should have led with that information.
“Oh wow! The band is amazing, I remember my middle school band, and we didn’t sound anything like they do!”
I begin tearing up.
Thankfully, the lights flash, indicating that intermission is nearly done. Good job, Lars.
Kylie and I say our goodbyes, and I resume watching the second half of Peter Pan.
As the kids and I drive home that evening, I tell them about the encounter with my co-worker, musing about how her reaction to them not actually being in the play was sort of amusing.
Lars, without missing a beat, says, “It would have been way funnier if you had looked her straight in the eye when she asked which kid was yours and said, ‘Oh, I don’t have kids.’”
The pure deadpan genius of that response is impressive, and it’s at that moment realizing this hilarious response never even crossed my mind; I knew my kid was finally funnier than me.
I don’t know if I should be proud or bitterly resentful that the day has finally come.
What I do know is that all the child rearing years of me refusing to censor my inappropriate sense of humour has finally paid off.
This post was previously published on Lindsay Rae Brown’s blog.
From The Good Men Project on Medium
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