I held my son’s hand as we emerged from the theatre and walked toward our car. We had just spent a couple of hours watching a children’s theatre production of a Japanese folktale performed in broad anime style with lots of bold, slapstick moments and a happy ending. However, it wouldn’t have mattered to me one bit what the play had been. The point was to be there, just me and my son, for a special afternoon.
I had a baby seven months ago and my son has embraced being a big brother as if he was born to the role. I love watching my two kids learn to love each other as they get to know each other better and better each day. But my days are spent splitting my attention between two very different sets of needs. All too often, I send my 5 year old off to play Legos or set him up with a playdate so that I can take care of the myriad needs of an infant. I realized that, while I get many hours of one on one time with the baby while my son is at school, I don’t get a lot of time to focus only on him. I know that I need to give him more undivided attention for all the reasons any psychologist would list. More than that, I miss being one on one with him. He’s a good companion and a bright, funny boy. I like being able to listen to him without also listening for the baby.
I decided that the solution was to plan a special event just for the two of us. A date, if you will. I chose a play because live theatre is my first great love in life. I started my adult life as a (struggling) actress and have never drifted too far from theatre even after I gave up performing. I know there is a special magic to seeing actors perform live and, at 5 years old, my son is ready to learn to love that. Theatre is a piece of myself that I can give him and my hope is that we can always share that.
That’s why I had tears in my eyes when the lights went down and the action on the stage began. I sat in a theatre surrounded by the familiar scents of sawdust and paint, and I watched my boy sit, rapt, beside me and take part in the age-old ritual of watching actors spin a tale for him. We held hands in the dark and shared the magic together.
After the play we ate cheeseburgers and fries and talked about what we saw. I wanted to wallow in the moment, embed it into my skin like a tattoo. I couldn’t imagine a better way to get close to my son after all these hectic months. It was sheer joy to sit with him and talk about the play, the day, and anything else that popped into his mind.
Before we went home, I thanked him for being my date. When he asked if we could see another play together sometime, I said yes. Yes, indeed.
Photo credit: photo stock