“Actually, I have an idea,” P said slowly. We were driving home and she was deep in thought. “I don’t want to be a teacher when I grow up. I want to be an actor!”
In retrospect, maybe I should have seen it coming. Because you see, I was a drama kid. And a drama adult. I actually majored in drama, and spent two years pounding the pavement in LA as a wannabe actor. For a good decade of my life, I lived and breathed the theatre.
But … I didn’t really see it coming. See, P is different. She’s not … she’s not like me really. She likes LEGO. A lot. She follows each page of instructions carefully, building several hundred piece, intricate sets. She’s built houses, swimming pools, castles, police stations, ski lifts. Then, when she’s done … she sets her LEGOs on a table for display purposes and moves on.
That’s like the opposite of me as a kid. I was ALL about the pretend play. I had imaginary friends and went to an imaginary boarding school and turned just about anything into a doll so I could tell elaborate stories. I remember playing with my dad’s screwdrivers and having the small ones be the babies and the large ones be the mommy and daddy. I was born an actor and I never missed a chance to perform.
P is shy. She sits quietly. She spent years of Music Together classes just staring at all the other children as they sang and danced and ate the egg shakers.
But there were some glimpses that an inner drama kid existed in her. The way she smiled so hard when she had a dance performance at school. How she’s always loved music.
So when I went to her school auction a couple months ago and found a great deal on a musical theatre summer camp no one had bid on, I figured, why not.
The first day was hard. She threw a temper tantrum at home because she couldn’t remember her lines. Then she woke up the next morning and said she didn’t want to go back. But we gently prodded her, and she came back the second day with a big grin saying she was good. We practiced her solo, “Feed the birds,” over the next couple days.
And soon it was Friday, the day of her performance. She could barely contain her joy on stage. She remembered all the words to her song. And as soon as it was over, she begged me to do the drama teacher’s fall show.
I guess she is a little like me after all.
And honestly? It’s a little weird. Especially knowing the disappointment and heartache it brought me. I texted a friend of mine, someone who was in my acting class in college about P, and he laughed.
“The garden path to hell is paved with summer arts programming,” he texted me back.
Even though I loved theatre, maybe especially because I loved theatre, I am hesitant for her to walk this path. I want to keep her from the inevitable rejections that are part and parcel of being an actor.
But then I think about everything I gained from the theatre. Almost all of my friends. My self-confidence. My ability with public speaking. My project management skills. And my solid mom book reading skills.
And I think maybe it’ll be ok for her to be a drama kid.