Sometimes big disappointments prepare you for bigger opportunities.
How can you protect your kids from having their self-esteem crushed but also prepare them for real life? How do you teach them to work hard, chase their dreams, and take leaps of faith, and at the same time explain to them that working hard doesn’t always pay off, that dreams are sometimes just fantasies, and that the net doesn’t always catch you when you jump?
How do you prepare them to plow forward, when you struggle with this paradox in your own life?
We faced this dilemma when our son poured his heart and soul into getting a role for a play, Pippin, and his younger brother who didn’t work as hard—and isn’t passionate about acting—got the part instead. (Click here to read last week’s post)
We’d been afraid that this might hurt their relationship, but Orly showed incredible grace and maturity when he was able to separate being happy for his brother from being sad for himself.
Orly continued acting and auditioned for a role in Winnie the Pooh at another local children’s theatre, landing the character, “Peter The Rabbit.”
Winnie The Pooh’s opening night coincided with Orly’s birthday. He received a gift like no other, when four 21-year-olds from the Pippin cast, showed up to watch Orly perform. We’d gotten to know these students from the UM Theatre School since we spent a lot of time waiting around for Justin during rehearsals. I’m sure they had much better things to do on a Friday night than attend a kids’ show, but theater people are special.
This goes to show that you can build relationships even when you’re on the side-lines. You never know what those relationships will mean in your life. We’d connected with these young adults in a magical way—and we knew someway, somehow, we’d meet again.
Our son’s wounds scabbed, and our family bond grew stronger. It was a time of learning and healing.
One Saturday morning, Orlando sat in the terrace browsing through his phone as he enjoyed his morning coffee and weekend mini-cigar. I swung in my hanging chair, writing on my laptop.
“Check this out, Caro.” He interrupted me. He’d seen a cool event happening in New York that the kids would love, and immediately looked up flights.
“Tickets to New York are super cheap.” He also found discounted prices and availability in a great hotel in the heart of Midtown.
It was a great deal. “Let’s do it, babe.” I agreed.
“You know what would make this trip perfect?”
Uh oh, I thought, knowing my husband.
“If we took the kids to see Hamilton.”
“Are you nuts?” I yelled. “Hamilton tickets are way too expensive. Forget it.”
“But we’ve saved so much money on everything else,” Orlando pleaded. “Experiences like this one is what we work so hard for. Our sons love Hamilton right now. We don’t know how long that’ll last. Besides, I’d love to do something special for them after the whole Pippin thing. Let’s make this an amazing experience. It’ll be our Christmas present to our family. ”
This conversation pretty much sums up our marriage:
I’m conservative and calculated.
He’s impulsive and spontaneous.
I think about it.
He acts on it.
We find a way to meet in the middle.
After an hour debating the pros and cons, I begrudgingly agreed to buy the Hamilton tickets.
Goodbye cheap trip to NYC.
Nonetheless, we couldn’t wait to surprise our kids on Christmas.
But on December 14th, an email arrived that would change everything:
I was given your contact information from the director of Pippin…
We are doing a developmental reading of a new musical called Devotion…
There is a part in the musical for a 10-year-old boy…
The workshop/reading will take place from January 20th through January 25th…
If you’re interested in your son being considered…
There is nothing better than kids who trust their parents. I adamantly dislike pre-teen shows and kid super hero movies that make the parents look like morons. I’ve never understood why these companies would program children to distrust their parents. That programming encourages children to turn to their peers and social media for guidance when they need it, and that can steer young people in the wrong direction.
We strive to avoid this. We’re honest and open with our kids when they ask us questions (regardless of how uncomfortable the answers are), we follow through on our word, and we don’t make promises we can’t keep. It’s why I was nervous when my husband promised my son that the director would call him one day for another role. But Orlando was confident. “The director said she looked forward to working with Orly in the future. Something has to come up one day where she recommends him for a role.”
He was right.
He called the director who emailed us. “Thank you for your email. Orly would love to be considered for this role. Please let us know when the audition is,” Orlando said.
“Oh, there isn’t an audition.” The director replied. “If Pippin’s director thinks he’s perfect for this role, that’s all we need to know.”
“Wow, okay.” Orlando replied surprised. “What’s the play about?”
“It’s actually a workshop/reading. We’ve received a grant to feature our theater students in a new musical, Devotion, by musical composer and lyricist, Mark Sonnenblick and Broadway director, Maggie Burrows. The play has one child role.”
OH MY GOD!
We couldn’t wait to share this news with our son. As soon as we got home, we sat Orly down on the sofa. His brothers gathered around being nosy.
“Orly, you remember how sad you were that you didn’t get the part of Pippin?” His dad asked.
“Of course I do.” Orly smirked.
“Well, guess what? We just received an email from UM. They’re bringing in a composer and director from New York to do a workshop of a new musical. They need a 10-year-old boy for one of the roles. Would you like to audition?”
“Yea, sure.” Orly said but his half-hearted response showed he wasn’t confident about getting the part.
“Well, you can’t audition.”
“Why not?” His face turned serious.
“Because you already got the role!”
“What?”Orly’s eyes lit up.
“Remember when we told you there are no wasted auditions? Well, it turns out your Pippin audition was really an audition for Devotion. They saw your talent and your behavior, and now they don’t need to look for someone else to fill that role. They want you.”
Orly jumped off the couch and ran around the house. Justin ran behind him, hugging him and screaming. “Dad, you promised she’d remember me, and she did! I can’t believe it.” Orly hugged his dad.
It was a golden moment in parenting world. A moment that we hoped would yield our kids’ trust in the future.But it was also a life lesson for all of us.
A Moment of Clarity
We audition for roles, interview for jobs, submit articles for publications, and invest our resources hoping for that opportunity which is right in front of us. It’s devastating to be rejected. It feels like we’re not good enough or smart enough or connected enough. But the work is never wasted. The investment of time, energy, and honing your skills is not lost—unless you quit.
If you stay on course, other opportunities will appear. All that work and effort will suddenly be worth it. You’ll realize you’d been in training for something bigger; you just didn’t know it at the time.
For a moment, everything was right in our world.
And then, I opened my calendar to pencil in the dates of the workshop.
“Orlando, can I talk to you for a minute in private?” We walked into our bedroom and closed the door.
“What’s wrong?” He asked.
“The reading is on January 25th. Our flight to New York leaves on the 24th and it’s non-refundable. What do we do now?”
God sure has a sense of humor.
Do we lose thousands of dollars and cancel the surprise trip we planned for our children with so much love? Or do we decline the opportunity our son was given in furtherance of his dream of becoming an actor?
What would you do?
Stay tuned for the final post on this story next week, and find out how we handled this conflict.