My oldest son, Ryan has always been the most artistic one out of my bunch. From an early age, he was always drawing or painting pictures or the like. To this day, he has the amazing ability to look at an object or picture, and draw it exactly as the original appears. He currently aspires to one day do this professionally, but only time will tell.
Earlier this month, a new talent of his was revealed to all. In October, he had decided to try out for the play his high school was going to perform this fall, which was Alice in Wonderland. He made the cut, and was assigned the role of the Mock Turtle. (Yes, there is a turtle in the story, I didn’t remember it either when he told me his role). He was thrilled, and practiced daily for the next 6 or 7 weeks.
I had asked him if it was a speaking role, and he said yes, but made it sound as if it was just a line or two. I told him it didn’t matter; what mattered was that he was participating, trying something new and enjoying the experience.
I was pleasantly surprised as I watched the play on opening night. The costumes and acting were phenomenal. The majority of the students in the production were sophomores and freshman. For many, such as Ryan, it was their first time ever. Ryan not only had a speaking part, but at one point, he had the stage all to himself as he gave a speech. It was awesome! He appeared in several scenes in the play as well.
I’m writing about this not only because I’m proud of his accomplishment, but because it was also a series of lessons in letting go and trust. Every day after school for the last few weeks, he would stay after until approximately 5pm, sometimes later. This was a little out of my comfort zone to grant permission for this, but there comes a time when you have to say yes even when you really don’t want to. I was also uneasy when he would attend outings for peer bonding with the other cast members. We are a regional school system, and a lot of these kids didn’t attend the same elementary school as Ryan. Ryan has befriended quite a few kids from the other town, and it seems like he always is saying, “You don’t know so and so because they are from Harwinton. Can I go out with them?”
The true test was after the play ended and I found Ryan in the lobby amongst other cast members being greeted by the audience. After I had congratulated him and a few of his friends on an outstanding performance, he asked if he could go out with the cast to a local restaurant. My heart was in my throat. He would be out late with a group of kids I only knew a handful of (three or four), and I also didn’t know any of the parents that would be driving them. After giving him a half dozen rules and telling him to call me if he needed to, I finally said it was okay for him to go. I told him to call me once the plans had been made, and off he went.
Ryan didn’t have his cell phone with him that night, and he didn’t call once the plans had been made as he had been asked. It wasn’t until about 2 1/2 hours later that he called to say he would be home shortly. He was told he wouldn’t be allowed to go again if he didn’t take his cell phone (which must be on and fully charged), and we knew the plans in advance.
It was a night of valuable lessons for all. The whole experience made me realize there will be many more instances of “letting go” over the course of the next 4 years of high school. After all, what is high school if it isn’t a preparation for what is to come for the rest of your life? It is as much of a learning experience for the parents as it is for the students. Hopefully they will be lessons well learned.