There is a certain terror to being a parent. You want to protect your kids from all the pains and embarrassments and dangers of being a person at the same time that you know you absolutely cannot. You wish you could bear the weight of their heartaches rather than making them go through it themselves at the same time that you know that weight is what makes them grow into the person they are meant to become. You want to hold them back from risk at the same time that you accept that it is only through risk that they have accomplishment.
This afternoon I got a call from Jack’s teacher. Because he was staying after school for drama club, she said, she wanted to make sure he had a ride home.
That was the first I’d heard of drama club, but I was stoked because I love theater and I love acting and I love drama kids and I was super excited that Jack decided he wanted to do drama club as an extracurricular activity instead of his semi-disastrous foray into the Science Olympiad last year.
His teacher had told me the club would be over at 4:15, so I showed up then, but he was nowhere to be seen. I hung out for a while, reading papers on the bulletin boards. On one such bulletin board was a notice about auditions for the fall play and how they were TODAY and they were being held from 3 to 6 and how if you were going to audition, you needed to have a 1-2 minute memorized monologue prepared and I realized that this is where Jack was and I started to worry a little bit because, monologue? He hasn’t prepared a monologue. Oh shit.
I wandered down to the stage and opened a door that led to a hall backstage and heard Jack’s voice say, “Hi, Mom.”
He was sitting quietly by himself eating his lunch leftovers. After I had a little panic that he’d been ousted to the hallway, I realized that food wasn’t allowed in the auditorium and he was just taking a break. So I said hi and asked him if he’d auditioned yet and then I asked him what monologue he was doing and he was all, “One I made up myself,” and that terror that I talked about up above, that fear of risk, reared up inside me as I thought about all the other kids auditioning who had been preparing for the past two weeks.
Jack and I waited until the next audition was done, then he stood up and went into the auditorium and talked quietly to the teachers running the audition. There were probably about fifty kids sitting in groups around on the floor watching the stage. I could tell he was telling the teachers that his mom was here and could he audition soon. It was clear that they were adding him in even though he hadn’t signed up in advance, which was lovely of them.
During all this, my body got ice cold. My chest began to hollow out. I was sure he was in over his head. I had no idea what was going to happen when his name was called.
I didn’t have to wait long. They called his name and he went on stage. I was standing far away against the wall, so I couldn’t really hear what he was saying, but he introduced himself and then performed his monologue which he told me later was about “my character and his brother’s mysterious death.” He spoke smoothly, he emoted through body movement, he was very melancholy, and he was fucking beautiful on that stage.
I am so proud of that kid. He is fearless. He made a decision that he wanted to try out and then he performed a monologue that he wrote himself in front of an audience like it was no big thing. I don’t know what the results of the audition will be, but what I do know is that Jack is a total badass.
There is a certain state of amazement that comes with being a parent. When you get to watch your kid be brave, when you see him take a risk, when you see him look his nerves in the face and walk straight past them, well, that is something special. That’s when you pretend that those aren’t tears in your eyes. That is when you feel a joy and a pride and a love that is bigger than anything imaginable. Sometimes it’s a small thing that brings on that amazement.
Sometimes all it takes is 1-2 minutes.