Amid the rush of soccer games, homework, socializing, church and Liam’s Bar Mitzvah this past weekend, the Parent Imperfect participated in two important conclusions. On Sunday afternoon, Connie performed in the last show of the spring run of The Little Mermaid at Wheelock Family Theater. Charles, the theater’s Mohican-sporting Marketing Director, was ecstatic about the possibility of a weekend off for the first time in eight weeks. The parents quietly gushed euphoric bout the prospect of not fighting for parking along the Fenway for at least a few months. But Connie and her fellow orange-clad crabs were sad to see it all come to an end. As the merpeople discovered about humans in the play, “Salt water fell from their eyes.”
The PI’s failure to sign Connie up for the next audition had less to do with his forgetfulness than it did his sense that there might be theater options for Ms. Connie that would be less stressful for the entire family. One thing, however, is certain: The experience of being a silent, squatting crab at the feet of The Great Mother has left the little girl clear about her passion for the stage. It will be fun to see where this passion takes her.
When the proverbial curtain closed on Show #22 of the Mermaid, there was, of course, the after-party in the foyer of the theater. This snackfest for the smaller members of the cast also turned into a love-in among girls (and a few boys) who had spent many hours together over the past two months. The PI insists that a true tally would show that they spent more waking time at the theater than anywhere else, including home and school, but who’s counting?
After the girls finished decorating each other’s arms with phone numbers, Connie and the PI raced up the Jamaicaway to drop C with dear Daniel who consented, at the very last minute, to be with the retired actress while the PI, Liz and Vince attended the closing session of the OWL program. That meant a breathless re-tracing of the PI’s steps back to the church of Brookline’s Unitarian Universalists.
The PI had been very skeptical of the readiness of his son for the Our Whole Lives program. Once, again, he was entirely wrong. Over the course of 17 OWL sessions, the PI and Liz found out very little about what was going on in this program designed to give young people a way to talk and learn about sexuality and relationships. To the PI’s bewilderment, Vince complained only once about going to the three-hour sessions, and that was when the session conflicted with a travel soccer game. His coach was not sympathetic to V’s commitment to a discussion group on adolescent sexuality.
The program came at a time when V’s social world was changing at breakneck speed in keeping with the hormone-laced culture of seventh grade at the nation’s oldest public school. The PI was never quite sure if the OWL discussions were driving the emergence of sex on a young man’s mind, or if the program was only helping him deal with this inevitable emergence. Either way, OWL certainly has influenced the way it all worked out, and will continue to do so. The five-person team of volunteer facilitators shared a great and timely gift with Vince and his family. As UUs, they won’t accept canonization, but they should at least accept the profound thanks of everyone who benefitted from this extraordinary program.
The closing evening was designed and facilitated to allow the parents to see that their youth now know more about sexuality than they (the parents) do, and it worked. The PI very much enjoyed seeing the relationships that had developed among the young people, and not just those coming from the same church. Given the proliferation of the cell phone and Facebook, the OWLers didn’t need to decorate their arms with phone numbers, but the PI had the same feeling he’d had at Wheelock of being surrounded by relationships that may, against all odds, find ways to continue.
True to the “sign ’em up and keep ’em busy” culture in which the PI and family float, Vince and Connie have taken part in dozens of programs for young people. Like many of their friends, V and C are probably way over-committed to everything except just sitting back and wondering about life. Each program and experience has had its own closure, designed to whet appetites, young and old. Clausuras, hay de sobra, but the PI imagines that few of those closings will leave Vince and Connie as transformed as the two closings that bumped up against each other this past Sunday.