September 2, 2018
It was her first job after college. An audition, an offer, and a move to a teeny, tiny town in the middle of nowhere, Virginia. A tobacco town of pre-Civil-War mansions and a renovated tobacco warehouse that now housed an art gallery, a theatre, and rehearsal spaces. She was excited. Momma was excited. New challenges to meet. New people to befriend. New stages to dance upon.
As Choreographer, she set her first show in Virginia, and learned many lessons about what was expected in an adult job and an adult world. It was still theatre; it was still make-believe. But the well-to-do, well-traveled audiences were well-versed in professional-quality productions from theatres all over the country. So she had to measure up. And measure up, she did.
As the momma of a wanna-be performer, the two of us had decided years earlier that I would always be truthful about her work, her dancing, her efforts. None of that drippy “Oh, Hoonnneeeyyyyy, you were wonderful!!!” drivel that comes from most loving well-intentioned parents. I knew theatre. I knew dancing. I knew quality. And I would always be honest with her.
The choreography was creative; the dancers were practiced and showy. Momma was proud and the kid felt her first step in regional theatre was in the right direction.
Show number two brought a different set of challenges. It seemed the actual director was being pulled in too many directions, so he began to leave more and more of the staging in the hands of this young dancer who had never thought she would be trying to direct at this time in her life. After many phone calls and many encouraging words from Momma, she finally stepped up, did a truly good job, and brought down the house with a dancing duet. The young man was a strong, physical dancer and her equal in ability and talent, which far exceeded the dancing skills of the rest of the cast. Singers? Oh, yes! Actors? Oh, yes! But, dancers? The Abs and Joe could out-step, out-kick, out-groove the rest, hands (or feet) down! The only two on stage during “Minnie, The Moocher”, they literally stopped the show.
With only a couple of choices for an after-theatre dinner, her roommate and I walked the three blocks to wait for Abigail. The “Bistro” was full, and roomie and I were at a small table in the back of the restaurant. There was a quietly energetic buzz in the room; everyone there had been at the theatre that night, and everyone had had a good time.
As the door opened a few minutes later, I saw my sweet child step through the door and speak to the hostess. The room suddenly became silent.
The absence of sound made me look around the room. All eyes were focused on my daughter at the doorway. And then the room began to applaud. Everyone who had been in that theatre that night was applauding my sweet child.
She had danced her heart out. The audience had seen; had felt; had appreciated her efforts. And now, even an hour later, they were still moved.
Please forgive the ramblings of this proud momma, and please understand that I am fully aware that what my daughter does involves an audience and applause. But I am also fully aware that most of our children, like most of us, work un-applauded and toil un-rewarded through most of the days of their lives. So never forget to be their applause for the efforts that might seem un-important. Those efforts – on all levels – are important. It’s the “doing” of them that is important. Important to all who love that child, that teen, that parent or grand-parent. Be thankful in all things…all efforts…all abilities. Be thankful. Make the choice to be thankful.