Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Second Time Around

Makes you think perhaps that love, like youth, is wasted on the young

Love's more comfortable the second time you fall
(Sammy Kahn, Jimmy Van Heusen)

Mr. Bustepher Jones and Mr. Mistoffelees
The theater is aquiver.  Moms and Dads crane their necks in the dark of the audience, cell phones at the ready.  The performers are so tightly wound, they practically vibrate with suppressed energy.  Thank goodness these are dancers, and all this potential will be unleashed in spins, and leaps, toe tapping and hip-hopping.  The moms and dads may be nervous, but not one child will forget a line, nor will anyone know if a move is choreographed....or ad-libbed.  No medals will be awarded...everyone will take bows....and whether a tiny tot stays on stage into the next scene...or makes her getaway to the safety of her parents, we will applaud and celebrate every moment because it has been FUN...

That's not always the case.  I am a grandma now, but Blake and I used to be the mom and dad of the kid on the stage, or at the podium, or on the court or the track or the mat....or the bench.  We held our breath, crossed our fingers, yelled at refs, bit our tongues, mouthed the words, clenched our fists, prayed, paced, and encouraged silently and out loud to hold on, keep going, and don't give up.  We rejoiced sometimes, were relieved others, and spent the rest of the time thinking of the right words to say to reassure or comfort the broken hearts or hurt feelings of our children when they felt they had failed.  Speeches and races, spelling bees and solos, free throws, at bats;  black holes of memory, dropped passes, false starts; all these bring to mind Adam Smith, if you can believe it.  "There's a lot of ruin in a nation," said he, and my application to child rearing is thus: kids are resilient. Failures will come and perspective...and a tougher hide...can only be gained by getting over it.  Kids hurt...and the moms and dads hurt more, because as parents we are forced to be adults.  

 Love is lovelier the second time around
Just as wonderful with both feet on the ground....

But... grandparents can give hugs and know they won't be rebuffed....grandparents don't have to analyze the aftermath, they can listen.  Grandmas and grandpas can simply enjoy the spirit of the endeavor, the energy and the heart and the will; we can appreciate the practice and effort....and not  bound by the skill or end result.  We aren't wiser...but we are older...and we see the parents of our grandchildren superimposed in the time/space continuum every pitch or performance. We know they survived the strain then and will live through both the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat...and the hours of bleacher butt in between.  

Meanwhile, Gabe will be investing in a first basemen's glove this spring and Aaron just played his trumpet during Junior High Performance night.  We laughed reliving Ann's exit from the county spelling bee after spelling 'raspberry' the fruit like 'razzberry' the noise.  Lee blacked out and forgot half a page of her solo at State Music contest.  Aaron showed remarkable equanimity while pitching last year, but his uncle Ben didn't bother to throw four balls; like Bob Gibson, he saved time and energy by just hitting the batter.

All the dances in CATS were delightful; shrinking the show to an hour and having adorable children, not underfed adults, dressed to the nines as felines, made it so much fun.  But  my eyes and camera were pretty well glued to the grand girls each time they took the stage.  Mr. Bustepher Jones twirled his giant spoon with √©lan, tripped and bounced right up before his fellow CATS could aid him.  Miss Abbie Harms, playing Mr. Jones, knew every word to every song and sang them all under her breath, at the very least, thereby proving that this particular apple hadn't fallen very far from her mama's tree.  Mr. Mistoffolees, radiated energy and joy in every move. Lizzie's smile never failed, even when her dance slippers led her astray during her song and she landed hard on her side.  She kept her place in her routine and made each subsequent pirouette and jump with confidence.  
  When the dawn comes
Tonight will be a memory too
And a new day will begin
(Andrew Lloyd Webber)


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