Sometimes our children surprise us, these beings that once were akin to writhing amoebas, nothing but instinct and reflex.
Those early days of their lives were so infused with emotion that I remember them vividly. The tiny mouth working in sleep, a chirping sound in the night that I knew would grow to an insistent howl, perfect little feet with a toenail for each toe, soft dimpled skin, sweet scent of newness.
They grow slowly but steadily. It can sneak up on you, if you aren’t paying attention.
My son is sixteen years old. He drives a car, shaves (on occasion), has hair in places only men have hair. He is tall and strong and beautiful with youth.
He has always been creative: imaginative play and then music, dance and drama. This year, he joined the school play: Twelve Angry Jurors. At first disappointed at getting a small part, he soon ended up with the additional responsibility of stage manager. He had to make prop lists, set up the stage, attend every rehearsal, make sure water ran from the tap (they had a real working sink on stage) and that the rotating fan was plugged in.
The cast and crew put in countless hours and, on the night of the performance, the air sharp with nerves and anticipation, these young people put on a show that left me completely gobsmacked. Were kids that talented when I was in school? Well, I know I wasn’t. From the first moment, the audience was in rapt attention, pulled from scene to scene, moved to laughter and tears, forgetting for two hours that these were the babies they once swaddled, the children whose knees they bandaged.
My heart swelled and sang (off-key because I’m tone-deaf) with pride in the accomplishment of not only my son, but every one of them, from the actor with the largest part to the smallest, from the people who coordinated the sound-effects to the lighting.
I know what you’re thinking. I’m biased because my kid was involved. Well, of course. But not long after that performance, the school was rewarded with several nominations for awards. The Cappies are like the Oscars for local high school theatre. The play was nominated for:
- Lead Actor in a Play
- Critics’ Favourite Play
As the awards night approached, I was informed that my son needed a suit, his first. My children grow so fast, I’ve been reluctant to buy them expensive clothes for fear they’d outgrow the togs before they had a chance to put them on their backs. However, I have noticed that, since last year, his pants have stopped turning into floods every September first, so I relented.
We went to the mall and got him a single-breasted black suit with a teal blue dress shirt and tie. A man’s suit.
The Cappies gala in Ottawa is held each spring at the National Arts Centre and is treated like a mini-Oscar night. There are photographers, a red carpet, a reception area, announcers, interviewers.
Just before the evening of awards was set to start, the feeling in the building was electric and exciting, abuzz with adolescent enthusiasm.
The lights dimmed and the ceremony began. Every award announcement was met with exuberant screams from that play’s cast, crew and spirited parents.
My son’s production of Twelve Angry Jurors did not win for sets or sound. It did not win for critics’ favourite play. But the boy who played Juror #3, the young man who had moved the audience to tears, won the award for Lead Actor in a Play. The place erupted into thunderous cheers and whistles. The young man took the stage, he thanked fellow cast members, their drama teacher, his beautiful girlfriend (aw!). He received his award and a thousand-dollar scholarship toward his post-secondary education.
We were elated, my husband and I. So proud of this group of young men and women who gave their time to learn lines, block scenes, practice and practice. Not to mention the drama teacher who pulled off this award-winning feat with a school that has close to half the student body of other schools that were in the running.
Afterward, I hugged my son, straightened the collar of his new suit, and told him I was proud of him and his friends.
“Thanks, Mom,” he said.
A few days later, we were out driving somewhere, just me and him, and he said, “You know what, Mom? I’m still so happy for Brett.”
“Me too,” I said.
“I’d rather that Brett won for lead actor than all of us won for best play.”
“Because he got that thousand-dollar scholarship. And he was so happy.”
The happiness of his friend meant more to my son than winning an award.
Now that’s something I can be proud of.