Sunday, January 17, 2016


It's so easy for a lot of us to get caught up in the idea that we're not good enough. For that job we want. For that person we want. For lots of things.

If you're person who's never doubted yourself or been mired in the muck of depression, I am truly happy for you. And more than a little bit envious. One of the many dreams I have for my kid is that she will be confident and happy in her own skin.

I've watched two of the last productions she's currently in with Young Actors Theatre. She's been in a few and it's always fun to watch her, though I'll admit they're sometimes a bit more complicated than I can easily follow.

It's not just me. When Hannah Ogden performs, Alex Ogden is always called on to provide translation services to her aunts and grandparents. When Alison found out that Miss Amy was out of town and would miss her latest production, she was sad, lamenting: "But this is finally one she could follow!"

I laughed. A., because it's true and B., because I'd said the same thing after the first time out.

The play is based very loosely on Snow White and it's performed really well by all the kids in it. As usual, a few of the cast offer up testimonials as part of the storyline. The testimonials are submitted by the kids while the script was being developed. The director selects a few of them and work them into the script. Or she works the script around the testimonials.

Alison's testimonial was one of the ones selected this time around. One girl talked about how she'd been at the popular table until the popular girls turned on her; a boy said he'd recently learned his father had other children outside his family; another boy said he'd been so scared to perform when he started acting he'd nearly cried himself to sleep.

Those were the part one of the testimonials. In two other segments, the players told how they'd felt about the issue and then concluded with how they'd come to terms with it.

Ali's testimonial Part 1: "When I was growing up, I had the image of the perfect little girl engraved in my head: pink and sparkly and clean. I'm not like that."

I'm proud to say that I was never the mom who forced Barbies or certain color schemes on Alison. She wore dresses, but she climbed trees in them. It's true I lamented her former dislike of bathing. But when she was 7 or so and Febrezed herself instead of showering while I was on a work trip, I was more than a little proud of her ingenuity.  Not that I didn't have a conversation with the Captain about what could slide and what shouldn't.

I have had more than a few moments of doubt about whether I should have pushed her to be more girly over the years. Especially as she struggled to find her place when puberty set in.

Ali's testimonial Part 2: "I felt I would be torn my whole life and never be allowed to be happy. Or as I am."

This was hard to hear. Sure, she's in those adolescent, horrible years, but my biggest dream for her is to be happy. The hardest part of parenting, I think, is knowing you can't ensure that for your kids.

Ali's testimonial Part 3: "I'm a tomboy, not a princess. I am who I am. And that's enough."

How cool is that?  I hope she really believes it, and that she believes it consistently.  Every testimonial ended with the idea that being true to yourself is enough. Whatever that is. You are enough.

Not a bad lesson for any of us, I'd say.

Every one of the YAT shows offers a similar, self-empowerment lesson along with the actual play. If the audience gets only a sliver of what the kids in the program get, they'll be better off. I'm biased, of course, but it's really a wonderful organization, well worth your support.

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