Being a SAHD is always an adventure. My oldest two children are involved in the local children’s theater which requires a certain level of parent volunteer assistance to pull off the productions. Typically this volunteering is split along gender lines with the moms handling the costuming, ticket sales, notifying all the grandparents about their on and off nights and stage management like entrance cues and getting the props on and off stage between scenes along with the usual making sure they make it to rehearsals and helping them learn their lines. Us dads usually stick to the set build itself because, you know, power tools. Moms still handle the set painting because it’s too close to arts and crafts for most of us guys. Some dads get more involved, doing the technical stuff like lighting and sound. As usual, the guys tend to stick to the guy stuff.
I’d like to say I’ve been an exception to that but that would be a lie. Even though I’m the stay-at-home now, my wife still typically handled everything theater. Oh sure, I took over getting them back and forth to rehearsals and read through their lines with them but I still pretty much just showed up for set build and the obligatory viewing of one of the productions because my kids are in it. In my defense my wife insisted on keeping this part of child rearing mostly to herself. In her defense it’s probably because I would screw it up since for me art was a class they made me take in middle school. At any rate I didn’t put up a fight about it and besides it’s not like she EVER plays video games with them, totally my territory. This time however the theater asked for parent volunteers to actually be in the production as extras and while my wife volunteered her work schedule made it impossible for her to make rehearsals. She was going to drop out but I saw an easy opportunity to step up, stand in the background, sing a few bars, and collect another Awesome Dad achievement. Also it was a production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and I LOVED that movie when I was a kid.
It was a struggle at first. I was one of two adult men in the chorus and the other guy had no kids and was getting involved in community theater because he wanted to. My costume was easy: a suit and tie I already had since fashion for men hasn’t really changed much since the Renaissance. But I did add one of those European driver hats to make me look foreign and hide my expanding scalp. I had not sang outside of the shower since the 5th grade but I could still read music like a boss despite not having played the saxophone since the 8th grade when I dropped all pretense of artistic pursuits our educational system had foisted upon me to focus on computer science. That skill helped me mask the fact that I was pretty much drowning at first and gave me a foundation to build on. The only acting I had to do was simply feigning interest in whatever was happening on stage, a skill I had developed listening to my kids explain the particulars of things like Pokemon.
I must admit it was a lot of fun and an experience I never would have had if it was not for my children. They say having kids will take you to places you never thought you would go, like the line to meet the Disney princesses at Disney world. But the thought of myself up on stage would have never occurred to me and although I was just an extra not only did I get to see a production from the other side of the audience, I also learned a lot about the hard work and preparation required to pull it off. The scripted and choreographed action on stage is sustained by an orderly chaos backstage given birth after a natural gestation of disparate individuals each developing their individual role and function into the final product. I know I was simply an appendix they could just as well have lived without but I was glad for the opportunity to be a part of that life, however brief it was. And I like to think I added just a bit of basal gravitas that otherwise wouldn’t have been there.
After is was all over I thanked the director for the opportunity and told him how much fun I had and what a learning experience it was. He told me if I would like to do it again my kids and I could always try out for Scrooge. I told him we’d be there. After all, I already have the costume and I love new adventures!