Jack and I took a little trip to Austin this week. We had a couple hours to explore the capital and the Texas Museum before going to Kevin’s State competition for his one act play. At the museum Jack had returning memories of being on field trips as he watched kids his age misbehaving and causing the teachers to be “uptight and ornery”. He put on a smug grin and said, “glad I don’t have to be part of that any more.”
We wandered into the House of Representatives at the state capital, and it was in session so we sat and listened. Mostly we watched because if we listened too carefully we’d find ourselves in a deep sleep. Jack learned about our government in school this year, so it was appropriate timing for him to experience a little of it in action. After half an hour of this drab entertainment, we left, and he said to me as we descended a magnificent set of curving stairs, “well, now I know I don’t want to be a politician.” (Thank God for that!)
At one point in our wanderings we found ourselves hot and thirsty and surrounded by office buildings. I said, “in urban America there’s a starbucks on every corner and we can’t hit one now”. Jack said, let me have your phone. He turned on siri, and she answered his request with a map to the nearest starbucks, hidden three blocks away! We followed the map on my phone like we were on a treasure hunt. He was so impressed with himself. He sat and drank his strawberry crème with a satisfied smirk. I sucked down an iced coffee knowing it was going to be a long night.
There were eight schools in Texas, in our 5A division who qualified for the state competition. They performed on University of Texas’ Bass auditorium where broadway shows come to perform. It was a packed house! We sat in on five of the performances. Kevin’s team gave the best performance I’ve seen them do so far, so that was enough for me. However, I really believe they have outstanding talent and put together a well meshed teamwork with stunning outcomes, so I believed they had a good chance to win. Ok, I couldn’t imagine how they wouldn’t win because it was such a powerful performance.
The quality of work and talent was consistent among the other shows. Unfortunately, another school performed the same play as our school. This offered some interesting opportunities to see how they made different choices, but also made it difficult to be objective and not compare. They were good, and different, so it was interesting. But, I’m mom, I’m biased, and I left the theater sure that evening that our kids had out performed the other school. Sure of it.
I was wrong. The judges liked the other group better and they took first place in the competition. We came in fifth. Kevin received an honorable mention for his performance, which is great being a freshman! The feedback was that our violent scenes weren’t violent enough. And there were rumors that their lead actor is a paid movie actor. Our kids were crushed and to use Kevin’s word, “deflated”. They went to Denny’s at 2a.m. and ended up in bed at 4 after being up since 5 the morning before. One tired boy, both physically and emotionally, arrived at our home the next afternoon.
Jack and I discussed the two plays extensively as we traveled home. He was quite thoughtful and observant of the differences. It was a good education for him in art. (just gotta love homeschooling this kid) He’s looking forward to joining a summer theater camp at our local children’s theater this August. He’ll love that! Discussing the plays with Kevin was too emotionally charged for him. He’s swimming in disappointment that they lost to the same play, (which hurts worse), and they are also feeling the loss of the play as they come to accept they won’t ever perform it together again. Closing night woes. In all, I am sure this morning a more sober minded Kevin will come down the stairs and begin reading the script for next year’s play that I have already put on the counter.
Kevin said it will make him feel better to write letters to the judges and not send them. I think that’s a good idea. He said he will destroy them, but I asked to keep them in my Kevin box, tucked into the beautiful program of the show with his medal as a book mark. He looked at me like I was crazy. Some day he might want to feel what he feels right now, and see how much he has grown up since then. Mostly I am so impressed that he dismisses the award he receives because for him this whole experience was about the team. If the team didn’t place, then he didn’t want any recognition. I like a good team player. Who said sports is the only way to learn how to work with a team? And if theater is going to be a part of his life, rejection is the spouse he will love and hate, but live with it none the less. Theater was the best fun I ever had in my life, (except now riding horses is overriding that experience) and I know Kevin is learning what magic can occur when the lights in the house go out, the curtain comes up and a story comes to life. (I’m really happy that part of me lives on in my children.)