There is only so much kids' soccer a guy can watch. I mean, I love this game, but we have sat through a lot of soccer the last three years. So when Gina suggested putting the boys in the Kids Who Care musical theatre program, I voted twice with an emphatic YES! As I've written before, I love theatre and wanted Sam and Nate to experience it at some level. Just to be clear, Gina and I are not those parents who want our boys to be famous or overachievers or even better than the next kid. More than anything, we want them to be kind, respectful, and confident in their own abilities. So, my motive was not to manufacture the next child star, but rather for them to learn to love and appreciate the great feeling that comes when we selflessly share our talents with others. I used to get this feeling as a performer, knowing that beyond the approval and atta-boys, it felt good to know I was brightening someone else's day by sharing what God had blessed me with. With a name like "Kids Who Care," this seemed like a good place to nurture that trait in my children.
Each week I would drop the boys off at the theatre, and each week we would talk about the games and songs and dances in the car on the way home. They would talk about their friends and recount some of the activities they would do in class. I would ask them questions from the newsletter that came home each week, and I was always entertained by their responses.
When it came time for the big production of Deep in the Heart, I was not sure what to expect. Just a couple of weeks earlier, I had just watched their Kindergarten program at school, and it was uninspired to say the very least (but the kids were still pretty darn cute). The parents were clearly more interested in capturing the moment with their phones than the kids were about participating in it. I knew there were some older actors in the KWC show who were serious about performing, so it had to be of higher quality than the Kindergarten program but I still had no idea what to expect.
The rehearsals leading up to the show brought back a lot of memories from my days of being involved in theatre productions. The fine-tuning by the director, the reminders, the starts and stops. I had forgotten this aspect of performing. Of course, anyone who knows will tell you this is necessary and is the only way to get performers to do their best. We all need people to push us and give suggestions for things to do better, all the while encouraging us that we have what it takes to be more than just good enough.
The night of the performance surpassed all of my expectations and left me in absolute amazement of what just happened. The performers were fantastic, and the production seemed to just fly by. The boys did a great job with the songs they were in, and I still have the picture branded into my memory of them on stage in their cowboy gear. The songs, the dialogue, the dances, the message ... they were funny, poignant, personal, and more than anything, all about Texas. It was a great night.
I know I have gone on and on about this, but it really was a fantastic experience for Sam and Nate. I don't think they are old enough to truly appreciate the blessing that comes with being involved in something that people care enough about to go the extra mile to make amazing. To perform with purpose and passion, and to be vulnerable enough to share it with others. They remember the songs and dances and fun, but we (the parents) will remember that they got to be part of something great and wonderful. As was written in the program, Kids Who Care is a "culture that expects extraordinary things to happen, and then goes about the business of making it true." We are glad to have been part of this culture, and we hope to be involved again.