it was the day of the big show, and the day that the Eldest woke up to find his cousins in the house. I'm not going to camp, you know, he said conversationally. Ah. Come sit down with me, I invited. As we sat, I explained that he was part of a team that was putting on this show, and that we'd all zip out to watch him - and his team - put it on. He thought this over.
You'll all come and see me? I nodded. Cousins too? I grinned, and hugged him. Cousins too, I promised. And the Eldest went to camp.
Come the appointed hour, cousins, sibling and one excited-nervous-excited mama were in the auditorium. Oh, oh, oh, what we saw. We saw
- girls spinning in great hoops
- girls swinging themselves up and round and down and round with long silks
- boys and girls doing magic tricks
- acrobatics on a trapeze
- a disappearing act
- an Indiana Jones bit
- clowns and balloons
- silks draped from the ceiling, and people twining themselves through
Eventually, it came time for a clownish boxing match. Out trooped the clowns, out trooped the kids in their costumes. And out came the Eldest, wearing his regular clothes. He stood there, a little kid poised awkwardly but happily on the stage, with a huge sign: CHEER. He waited for his moment, and held up the sign. CHEER.
And we did.
When his counsellor, dressed in a silly clown costume (but no scary painted face) ran out on stage, the Eldest bravely chased him around a bit with a big foam mallet. And then wandered around, looking lost. The audience waited patiently, while the Eldest found his bearings. Which was good: he had one, last job to do.
It was the juggling act, his father's hobby and the Eldest's favorite. But he'd felt no need to actually learn any control over the balls, nor to practice any specific moves. Instead, the kid liked to throw the ball. High. And then catch it. Mostly.
So, out walked the Eldest onto the empty stage, holding his ball. At center stage he paused, grinned and yelled, ball! and threw it. Up, up, up. And tried to catch it. A horde of kids with juggling paraphernalia come pouring out, and filled the stage in front of the kid throwing and catching his single ball. They perform, and then line up for a bow. In the back, the Eldest was still throwing and catching his ball, oblivious.
Eventually, he realized that he should join the group, and shyly tried to find a spot to stand. He found one, was edged out by a more enthusiastic kid, looked for another spot, gave up and went back to throwing. Bow, go the group of kids. Hooray! shouted the adults. Ball, whispered the Eldest to himself, and tried to catch it. Watching my non-theatrical son find pleasure on the stage, I laughed and smiled until it hurt. (Oh, little love.)
The show over, we all hustled outside, to cheer for the kids trying to swing - and get caught - on the big trapeze. (remember the net?) The Eldest watched, awed, as his friend swung and was caught, a rare success among the courageous. Safety harness on, the Eldest had other plans.
He found his favored circus staff, and she hooked him up to the little swing. I looked up at the Eldest, dangling from that thing, and considered how I would really rather not get on it, myself. But there he was, trying to swing his body back and forth. Going down, said Renata, and let him down. Whoops! Going up! she said, and yanked him up. The Eldest, a firm believer in ample advance warning was somehow grinning as she hauled him up and down, comfortable with having her manage his safety. He was relaxing, I thought, into his body and what it could do. He was, I hoped, thinking less about what he couldn't do - or about what might happen if he did.
Look! said Renata, laughing, he trusts me now! I looked. I saw the Eldest laughing, Renata's understanding of all that he let go in order to laugh, and I smiled so hard my eyes watered.
If that's the kid's boundary, then he crossed it this week. And I can smile - and get damp - over that. Bravo, Eldest. Bravo, dear one.