Parenting is a tricky and funny thing.
Placed in this role, the majority of us recognize our unique responsibility. The responsibility, of service to these little humans. The opportunity, to teach them right from wrong, model what is morally correct and yes, dust them off when the world attempts to break them down.
What I continue to learn, however, is that parenting is so much bigger than this. It is the little things, the small moments, the choices we may make on the fly that may impact them the most.
This was my lesson over the past few weeks.
My youngest was fortunate enough to be cast as a member of the Oakdale High School production of the Wizard of Oz. It was an opportunity which presented itself just shortly after she had completed a production with YES Kids, a Stanislaus County Office of Education theater program.
The commitment with YES had truly worn our family down. We’re very happily a swim, dance, MMA family. We don’t do each of these simultaneously but we do make the most of the days, weeks, and weekends with both activities and family outings.
The Oz opportunity seemed perfect. Everything once again all in the 95361, easy breezy right?
Well ... yes and no.
The three month commitment of daily rehearsals for our third grader did find me questioning my sanity at times. What I know is all parent readers have been in this very place. Whether it be juggling multiple soccer players, a dancer, pianist and a football quarterback or just remembering we have no food for dinner, there are times we think we’re nuts.
These after all are ‘extracurriculars,’ they are not required and often times we’re paying for our children to live these ‘opportunities.’ The beauty however comes in the lesson. Every so often, as parents we have time enough to pause in a moment of silence and see how the ‘insanity’ has benefitted our child; that’s what I choose to speak to here.
Having a third grader cast in a high school production, was a special treat (for her). It was also a reminder, as well as a lesson that regardless of age, gender or background they are all still just kids.
But last week, as I placed my baby in her costume, kissed her on the forehead and left her for her final dress rehearsal I was overcome with emotion.
That moment and all the moments before it were so much bigger than a simple school play. These children were allowed an opportunity to work with others they may not have ever met otherwise. They were allowed an opportunity to gather together and bring to life a classic for their classmates, family, friends and community.
Just typing these words I’m overcome with emotion. The emotion is not prompted by MY child’s accomplishment but rather the accomplishment of the entire cast and crew of the Wizard of Oz. The work and dedication these students put into something which was so well received by its audience.
As the mom, I was able to watch it transform from script, to scene, to life quite literally, yet it’s still so much bigger than that.
There is also the privilege of watching a good number of these young people pull together, exercise compassion and respect for one another. Oh, yes, I won’t sugar coat it, there’s always the ones who have yet to learn their lesson in grace, upstage the others and have yet to learn a lesson or two. Of course there are also the divas and high strung, we learn from them too.
And again ... it’s so much bigger than that.
As I think back to the emotion I felt a handful of times last week, I remember a few things.
I remember my daughter’s class engulfing her in hugs, filled with joy after the school show. I remember hearing her name from a dozen little voices as they congratulated her. I remember the high school students who took her under their wing, making her feel a part of something. I remember the Cowardly Lion and Scarecrow genuinely hugging her, as she faced a weak moment.
These are the things the audience never sees. These are the things that helped me see it was so much bigger than getting to act in a school play.
Three months later, we have a new, somewhat transformed little girl living in our home. So here’s where I take advantage of my unique position to offer a heartfelt thank you.
Thank you to the cast who helped our family grow. Thank you to the parents, grandparents and siblings of these students for enduring what the theater life holds for each of us. Thank you to this community for taking the time to not only just attend but appreciate all that these kids accomplished