I’ve passed on a billion cool opportunities in this lifetime. Until recently, I’d have classed myself out of some perceived bonuses, believing I was neither good nor deserving enough to cash in. Too often I’ve designated myself unworthy of any VIP lifestyle–who do I think I am anyway? I’m mostly a rule follower, so never tried to sneak in to anything or try to score something above my station in life. I’d observe longingly from the sidelines, questioning how did they get that?, and walk off, aware that in the us vs. them, I was a them.
Still, I marveled at how people got to do the stuff they did. “That’s so cool!” I’d think, or “I could never do that!” or “They’re so lucky!” were common refrains. *sigh* I champion the underdog in nearly everything, I suppose because I know myself as that underdog. Not coveting, but not not wanting my moment in the sun. Surely I don’t deserve special treatment or an extra-special anything really. I’m just this girl from Milwaukee, nothing to see here, folks, keep moving.
I never want my children to feel ordinary. NOT entitled, never. But not ordinary.
Saturday night my little guy and I traveled west of Chicago to see Alan Doyle in concert. Alan Doyle is a Canadian musician/singer/author/actor, widely known north of the border, but playing comparatively smaller venues in the US. The guy obviously loves his job! He and his band, the Beautiful Gypsies, empty their hearts on the stage instrumentally and vocally. I’m new to the fan club, but what I lack in tenure, I make up for in enthusiasm. My kid and I sat near the front, and to look at my son during the performance, you’d have thought he was steps from a coma. You’d have been very wrong.
He had a great time! He knows Alan’s music as well as I do, and has even worked out Sea of No Cares on piano! He loved the show! What he dislikes? Attention. He may have looked like the poster child for preteen narcolepsy, but he was into it. INTO it. He’s eleven, so any kind of scene he’s going to make will be on his ‘tween terms. He never stops talking or moving at home, but he’s a different child out in the big, wide world. He’s quiet and shuns attention until he’s all in, and then he’s ALL IN.
But I noticed shades of quiet not attributed to shyness recently, and felt like Saturday night was as good a time as any to take that bold, first step.
After his shows, Alan Doyle invites anyone interested to stick around and say hello. He’ll pose for photos and sign things for fans. The first time my boy saw him last January, Alan gave my son his set list from the stage. That guy! My guy was wilting, and when an Alan überfan asked if she could photograph the list, my son was astonished into near paralysis–only his eyes moved to search me for the correct response. We didn’t stick around then ’cause it was a school night, and we were staring down a two-hour return trip home and I am a responsible parent, but he kept the set list because, hello? Oh, FYI, of course we let the woman take a pic of the set list. We’re cool like that.
Late Saturday night, my boy makes his way to the restroom for the pre-travel potty break while I chatted with some friends. Looking over my shoulder, there’s a scrum of fans surrounding the man in black. I ask my kid if he wants to hang around to meet Mr. Doyle, and he’s quiet like, “Aaaaaah, nah, that’s OK. There’s a lot of people, and mumblemumblemumble.” Naturally I was like, “Let’s, honey. Let’s go say hello and tell him how much we liked the show.” (Because I am SO GIFTED with the words, and probably no one has ever said such a unique thing to him in his decades-long career. Jaysus.)
He was nervous up til and including the very end. My son, not Alan Doyle. “Are you sure it’s OK, Mom?” (Oh no, he sounds like me!) I produced the set list from my purse and he was all, “I was looking for that!” (his room is like an episode of Hoarders, Jr. so of course he had to be looking for it–nothing is ever where one expects it might be in that morass) and I was all, “Let’s ask him to sign it” and he was all, “I don’t know if we should” and I was all, “Then yes, we definitely should!”
And we did. And I was sooooo awkward, not at all fleet of speech. I wanted to show my kid it was OK to do something cool like meet the guy who just put on that terrific show and not feel like you didn’t deserve to say hey. I probably proved actually how very little I deserved to be there–words are hard, people, even for a wiseass like me. Instead of saying how much I enjoyed reading his memoir, how I thought he penned a beautiful love letter to his hometown with such detail I could see him running up and down that hill, how he paints pictures with words and melodies and on-stage energy, how Take Us Home is one of the sweetest songs I know, I ended up basically mute. Super, Wendy. But I showed my kid he could do it, even if you sound like a complete dork while doing it, the lesson is this: leap.
My kid thought it was pretty slick. He told me that after last week’s planes, trains, and automobiles to my Barenaked Ladies bender, and this trip to see Alan Doyle, I was practically Canadian. Man, I love that kid. He deserves the sun, the moon, and all the stars. All of ’em. He is kind and gentle, my kid–he sat next to me at a concert and didn’t completely die when I got up and danced. Now if that doesn’t say something right there! He’s funny and concerned and shows empathy. He is not an undeserving, ordinary boy. He’s special, and I’m so glad he’s mine. I just hope it doesn’t take him nearly a half century to know and remember how special he is.
PS–I managed a whole blog post and never once mentioned that my Number One Son came home from OT with his first piece of MD equipment today. I didn’t even cry. I didn’t take him to the appointment, but details, whatevs. Today was a first. For both of us. Exhale.