My son is 7 with this astounding vocabulary and sense of humor. He’s mentioned lately that at his dad’s house he gets a lot of pressure to play sports and do things that “just aren’t my thing”. Kealoha and I have tried to tell him that he doesn’t have to be a sports person; that there are (indeed) a lot of other options. (This could lead me down a dark blog road of the differences in our house vs. his dad’s house, but I won’t go there. Some things I can’t write about.) Anyway. So last night Kealoha and I decided to take Louis to Circle Theatre’s Woodstock Concert. Kealoha did the video for the program and we wanted Louis to see it, and to see another world beyond sports. One of the things I love about theater is that it’s all-inclusive. No matter what age or shape or background, you can find a home in theatre, and not just in performing but in any area from creating a set, to running the show, to designing how the show looks. Slight side-track.
Anyway. When we got there he immediately asked “Why is everyone here so old?” We told him that a lot of them probably were at Woodstock and remembered it. “Or maybe they don’t remember it,” I said, but kept this comment to myself “They were probably stoned.”
Louis was super excited, and tired, and just on the border of misbehaving. He was laughing in this old man voice, a 1930s type hard-nosed character he does, but if you don’t know that he’s doing this, you’d think that maybe he had a speech impediment. Kealoha went up to the booth and Louis and I sat down to watch the show. It started with a rocking guitar solo of the national anthem. Louis immediately started playing air guitar and he was pretty good.
The 1st song was a little loud for him and I asked him if he wanted to leave. He pulled me to him and screamed in my ear: “No! I’m being good!” and he was. He made me laugh through the performance. 7 year olds are not very good at hiding their thoughts on songs. He liked the rock-out songs, but struggled with the slow songs. I saw him making this weird hand motion during the song “You Make Me So Very Happy” and then I realized he was miming pulling out a pin on a grenade and tossing it at the stage. I promptly grabbed his hands and threatened him with mom-type-punishments.
On “Bad Moon Rising” he loved the song, but was really confused by the lyrics. “Is this song about a bad moon or the weather?” he hollered. “It’s a metaphor!” I said. “WHAT?” he screamed. “A METAPHOR!” Then I realized he was 7. “It’s just a song about telling people to be careful.” He still didn’t get it. “It’s a song about the WEATHER.”
Then the Janis Joplin music came on. He did good with half of the first song, but then he pulled out an imaginary machine gun. If we were watching like a Hunger Games American Idol type competition, that singer would have been permanently OUT.
The next Joplin song went over better with him. He was dancing in his seat. He sang a little bit with the band and audience on one song but got confused by some long solos. He liked the drum solo and then as it went on, he sort of rolled around in his seat as if someone were burning him. “That was awkward,” he said, after the drum solo ended. I said, “Babe, all drum solos are awkward.” And they are. Even when they’re good.
Then came “We Shall Overcome” and I got a little emotional. It’s the song, yes, but the singers too. Louis said “Why is everything so serious right now?” And I tried to say because it was a song about hope for things to change, but that change can take a long time. And I knew a lot of the performers on stage and could tell how time has changed them and then I just got all weepy.
Then it was intermission and it was too late for Louis to stay up for the second act. I took him home. (Side track again: the show is filled with toe-tapping numbers and that kind of joy that happens when a group of people get together and perform. Go see it tonight if you can.)
He said he liked the backstage tour and the music and wanted to know if one day he could be onstage or work backstage like Kealoha, and if he did do that, could he get a cupcake like the performers had in the Green Room. I said yes, he could.
I tried to make it a teachable moment. “You know, there are so many things you can do once you figure out what you’re interested in or talented in.”
“But I don’t know my talent, Ma.”
I said, “Honey. You’re only seven. You’ll figure it out. If it’s sports, great. If it’s performing, great. If it’s something else, that’s great too. We’ll figure it out.”
Then he farted and said: “When you gotta go…you gotta go.”
I just hope that whatever his talent IS, it’s not farting. But if it IS, then we’ll figure out a way to help him explore that. Ugh.