Yesterday, R was in a play. His after-school program puts on a play every year, and the kids can all be in it if they want to. Last year, R wasn't interested at all. This year, he matter-of-factly announced to us over dinner one night that he was going to be in the play. And, that he had a speaking part.
I almost fell out of my chair, but I kept my reaction to myself. I've always thought that R would be wonderful on stage because he's incredibly expressive and has a flair for the dramatic. But as outgoing as he is normally, he HATES being the center of attention. He had some pretty disastrous performances at his old daycare/preschool, where he either fell apart on stage or ran into my arms sobbing. So, I've never pushed him into anything like that since. I even warned his kindergarten teacher last year that he might be hesitant to participate in the all-school music concert. He did okay, but he was extremely upset that A and I came to the performance. He didn't want us there AT ALL.
So, when R told us that he was going to be in the after-school play, I tried not to get too excited. I figured he would drop out after a few rehearsals or bail at the last second. I said a prayer for him yesterday that he wouldn't get upset with himself no matter what happened.
The play was sort of a re-telling of Toy Story, where the toys come alive in the after-school program classroom. It was clever and really funny! They even acted out commercials in between scenes. Probably 90% of the kids were girls, so there were many Barbies and princesses. But, R and the five other boys who participated were the Army guys, and it was perfect for them. The after-school teacher who directed the play is brilliant - she had the boys/Army guys come running into scenes like maniacs. They got to climb over things and jump and yell out, "Sir, yes, sir!"
In one scene, the Army men were searching for the missing Princess Fairy Barbie. Each one of the boys had his own line, where they came up to center stage and announced the results of their search. When it was R's turn, he walked up and delivered his line in a clear voice. Then he smiled.
When the Army men made their first appearance on stage, I saw R take a look at the crowd and freeze up. He turned his face away for a few seconds, and I could see him mentally psyching himself up. Then, he turned back, spotted A and me, gave us a little wave, and played his part.
He did it! And, the best part of all? He had fun doing it. He loved being in the cast and helping to make the scenery.
I found out later that none of his best friends in the after-school program wanted to be in the play. So, not only did R want to do it, but he stuck with it even though his friends weren't a part of it.
How cool is that? :-)