I listened to a podcast yesterday morning and the speaker was talking about pulling up in his driveway and seeing his three kids playing in the yard with a big beachball. He described how he watched them giggle and toss the ball, and how joyful it made him feel. He further described it as a happiness that was so magnificent it seemed undeserved, or as he saw it, grace.
I have been blessed with those moments on quite a few occasions; mostly when I’m surrounded by family. And it is just as he describes: a happiness that is so full and rich and grounding that it feels it should not be deserved.
It happened last week when I took the kids to an audition for a local play, A Christmas Carole. Neither kid has ever wanted to act before but in the last month or so, Mario became interested, and then Maria followed him. I had no idea what to expect since I’ve never been in theater. I got some tips from my colleague who acted in community theater when she was younger, and I asked a mom in town what she experienced when her daughter tried out a year ago (I have a sneaking suspicion that Mario decided to take up acting because of her daughter…). She told me that the kids would just get up and sing a little bit of a song and recite a few lines. So that is what I told Maria and Mario to expect.
The kids were so excited when I got home from work. Maria was decked out in a black dress with pearls and Mario was dressed in a button-down shirt and khakis.
We walked into the community center and they had already started auditions. As soon as we walked in a boy stood in the front of the room with a tweed jacket on and asked if he should sing the song in the soprano or the tenor voice. Maria’s and Mario’s jaws dropped to the ground, as did mine. Then a woman followed up after the boy singing a beautiful tune. Maria looked petrified and shook her head sideways.
“I am not doing this, mom. No way.”
Mario just stood in awe.
There were quite a few folks waiting to be called so I hoped that some of them were winging auditions like us and were amateurs. I got my wish a few kids later. One sang “happy birthday” and another sang “jingle bells.” The kids felt somewhat relieved. Mario’s friend Addy showed up with her mom soon thereafter and went before Maria and Mario so they could continue to get comfortable in the surroundings. She sang “happy birthday to you” and Mario felt much better. He walked up next and sang his jingle bells song. He kept his chin up and sang at a respectable decibel level. I know he was a bit nervous compared to when he was practicing with Maria and me. After he was finished, Maria decided that she would go ahead and do it, too. She sang “row row row your boat” and even used voice inflexion. She has a really pretty voice. After she finished, Mario walked up to her and gave her a hug. I wanted to weep at his warmth towards his sis. I was just so relieved and glad the both of them at least gave it a try and did not let fear hold them back.
After singing in front of the theater director, they had no problems reciting lines with other actors. Maria was incredible with her word tone and her movements. I was very surprised at how well she did. Mario did well, also, but I think he was assuming there would be movie lights and Hollywood actors at the audition. I think his big goal is simply to be on a movie screen as a cinema hunk.
As I stood in the back of the room, my heart swelled over the bravery these two kids exhibited by showing up at a blind audition where they knew nothing about what would happen. They overcame their fear and anxiety and performed. I couldn’t have been prouder.