How To Find What You Came Here For

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Monday, May 2, 2011

Out On A Limb


"Hey, do you wanna do camp with me?"

I almost said no.  The performing arts camp at our church was a big deal - this wasn't Sunday School or even Vacation Bible School.  The camp started on Monday and ended on Friday, with a community performance on Friday night.  When the kids show up on Monday morning, they've never heard the music before, never seen the script, and in a lot of cases, never had to memorize a line of dialogue or even a song.  It's a lot of work, and if you don't do it right the performance on Friday night is a nightmare…I've seen it happen.

But it was my friend asking, and she was giving me that look.  I think of it as the Superman look.  You know:  "Only you can save us, Superman!"  They'd tried finding someone to direct the camp that year but word had gotten around about the amount of work involved, and there were no takers.  I'd helped with the camp the first couple years, and I loved it.  I didn't want it to die of neglect and apathy, or just plain laziness.

I took a deep breath and said yes.  Then I took a deeper breath because my inner voice (also known as: The Wicked Bitch of Self-Doubt), was screaming, "What the hell are you doing?"  (The WBSD cusses a lot, and at church too!)

I'm a competent person.  I've been the assistant director to a large childcare center.  I've run my own after-school care program.  I've designed and implemented a Sunday School program.  In addition, I have an effect on kids - from babies all the way through teenagers.  To put it in the vernacular, they "mind" me.  I don't really know why, but they do. It's actually a little creepy.  I can put down a rising insurrection with a look.  Absolute silence reigns the moment I raise my hand.  If there are children within eyesight they will be attached to my legs, whether they know me or not.  Kids I taught years ago who have become adults still squeal and hug the stuffing out of me if we meet in public. 

None of this matters when the WBSD starts up - I immediately see myself as failing, in an epic way.  I envision kids who don't know their lines stumbling painfully through an hour-long musical.  I imagine musical numbers with the tonal quality of a zombie choir.  The WBSD doesn't play fair, but she is effective and she knows how to run the movie projector in my mind.

I worked my tail off.  I planned everything out to the last minute, coordinating like a veteran general facing the battle of a lifetime.  I worked the kids' tails off.  Parents told us every morning that their kids had fallen asleep in the car before they'd left our parking lot.  Older siblings complained about hearing our music in their sleep.  I cajoled, poked, prodded, praised, lamented, and occasionally fell on the floor in exasperation.  The kids sang, laughed, danced, goofed around, giggled, got paint on everything except the set they were decorating, and occasionally fell on the floor in exhaustion.

Friday night came.  The windows were blocked to make our sanctuary dark, and homemade light poles were turned on to slowly illuminate the kids laying on hay bales and leaning on each other in a credible facsimile of sleep.  As the first notes of the opening song played over the sound system, I took one last breath and beat the WBSD into silence.  I said a quick prayer and prepared to go with the flow, determined to do what I'd told the kids to do and just enjoy the experience.

The lines I'd mercilessly drilled the kids on came out effortlessly, delivered like they were seasoned pros who'd had weeks if not months to learn them, instead of just a few days.  Musical numbers I'd worked on and tweaked all week long were right on time and full of energy and fun.

One hour later the audience was cheering, the kids were beaming, and pride filled me like light.  The WBSD was wrong - I could do this…I DID do this!


This post is my response to a prompt by The Red Dress Club to write about something we are proud of.  The camp I wrote about is on my mind right now - we're finalizing plans for this year's production and my stress level is rising.  It was a nice exercise to remind myself that the WBSD is wrong - not only am I capable of doing this, I ROCK at it!  LOL  Thank you for your concrit and comments!