Two years ago our tiny school put on a pretty spectacular musical. Every child was in it and everyone thought it was marvellous. Everyone, that is, except Bright Eyes. He steadfastly refused to participate or to go down to even watch. I was disappointed.
"Oh well, maybe next time," I thought.
Next time is this week. And on and off for the two months that the children have been practicing and learning their dances, Bright Eyes has come home and said, "Well, I'm not going to be in the musical. It's for losers."
I had the job of helping to create costumes for his class. "Do you want to try yours on?" I asked him when I brought them home.
"Huh. No way. The musical is for pea-brained, puny idiots," he said.
I mentioned his reluctance to his teacher. He was surprised. "Really? He's been practising with everyone else and hasn't said a thing about it," he said. I shrugged my shoulders and then deliberately didn't bring the subject up with Bright Eyes again. The less conversation I had with him about the musical, the better, as far as I was concerned.
Fast forward to today, when the children had their first two performances. We kept it low key in the morning and didn't say much about it. My husband went to the matinee and came home with tears in his eyes. "It was so great to see him on stage with everyone else," he said and I was hopeful that everything would go off without a hitch for the evening show.
But it wasn't to be.
As soon as he came out of school he started on the musical. "That was the one and only time I'm ever going to do that. Musicals are rubbish. I'm not a fan. They're for stupidos. I'm staying home. And you can't make me go. I make my own decisions and I don't take orders and I want everything the way I want it so there."
We tried to calm him down and change the subject but he was unstoppable. "I'm NOT going and you CANT make me. And this is the worst day of my life." He kept on and on about it. I tried a little negotiating (TV tomorrow afternoon) and a little threatening (you'll be in bed at 6 if you don't go) and then finally said, "Well, it's not up to me. If you're really not going to do it, then you have to tell the teacher because they're in charge. This is a school thing."
"No! I'll be embarrassed. You go and tell them!" he said.
"No way," I said. "I'll be embarrassed. You're the one who doesn't want to go. You say it."
I coerced him out of the house and back up to school, where thankfully his teacher was in his office.
"Bright Eyes has something to tell you," I said.
"Come in, Bright Eyes," he said. "Sit down. Tell me what's on your mind."
Well, you know, I didn't listen to that conversation. I took myself out of the picture and let him take responsibility for himself. About three minutes later, he was fine. No more tears. No more protests. He was on his way to the musical.
He got happily into his costume - which anyone might have baulked at, quite frankly, given that it was a unitard -, walked up to the hall, coped with hanging around, performed his heart out with genuine energy on the stage, and then walked back again, got changed and put himself to bed.
"I like December the most," he said on the way home.
"Oh, why's that?" I asked.
"Christmas. Oh, and musicals," he said. "And plus there was one advantage as well. I got to go to bed later tonight."
Next time the musical comes around, in year 6, I'm hoping he goes out for a speaking role. Wouldn't that be something!