That’s sort of a roundabout way of saying that I need to tell you that Grace has been just astonishing me lately. I need to write it that directly, with the spotlight on the correct subject, not hedging in the second person.
Tonight was the performance of her camp musical, Aladdin. She played the role of the Sultan — or, since she is so clearly a girl and not a boy, the Sultana. Her job in the play was to convince her daughter Jasmine to marry an appropriate royal, to disapprove when she falls in love with a commoner, and then to have a dramatic change of heart at the end of things.
She didn’t get any of the show-stopping vocal numbers, but it was a big part. And she killed it.
She also did this entirely on her own. One day, very early in the process, she did ask for some help learning her lines. We were driving somewhere far away, as we are wont to do, and she pulled out her book to start reviewing, without anybody telling her to do so. I was driving, and Bill was busy changing channels on the radio, so the task of reading all the other parts fell to her hapless sister. This didn’t unfold quite as easily as Grace would have liked, so she just sort of dropped it from then on.
Somehow she learned all her lines — and there were a lot of them — without any input at all from the unhelpful members of her family.
And then, during the performance, she was funny. Really, truly funny. She delivered most of her lines in a fake British Accent, sometimes with a comic flourish, and was often standing center stage, taking up a lot of visual and dramatic space.
But our favorite parts were the funny little comic bits she threw in between her lines while she was reacting to the other dramatic business on stage. She and the girl who played the princess Jasmine (in an unfortunate wig that made her look a little like the late, great Amy Winehouse) kept up a running series of reactions back and forth. The two girls interacted just like real actresses. Just like real comedians.
It was a great play, and she was by no means the star. But she did have fourth billing, which in my estimation is pretty damn good for the kid who was brand new at the camp this year, and who auditioned in the midst of a ragingly high fever.
On the way out of the play, everybody stopped to congratulate her. Everybody.
“Great job, Grace. You were really good.”
These comments were different from the “everybody gets a trophy” sort of praise that people throw around at kids in our neighborhood. They had more to do with her actually having done something that stood out as terrific.
Each time she got a little praise, she very graciously accepted it, then quickly deflected a similarly gushing response back.
She was confident. She was poised. She had had fun all night long, and knew she had done well.
Why do I need to tell you all of this?
Well, because I’m not always the easiest mom to please. Like the Sultana herself, I sometimes think that I know what is best for my daughter better than she does. I sometimes make her crazy by restricting her freedom. I never, ever let her ride on magic carpets without a seatbelt. And I don’t always see her in the light by which she so deserves to be seen.
Some Mamas are too proud, gushing over everything their kids do. Some Mamas are never proud enough.
But tonight, while she was ripping it up on the stage, getting into her funny stage persona, and then lapping up the accolades, I could see her clearly for who she is becoming.
She is — and is becoming so more and more every day — Grace. Her own person. And she’s amazing.