Years ago, when our firstborn was still a toddler, my husband’s cousin told us, “Bigger kids, bigger problems.” I’m starting to get what she means.
Our second child—11-year-old Billup*—tried out for the school play this fall. She became the understudy for the Good Witch (they’re doing a parody of “The Wizard of Oz”). Early on, she excitedly shared, “Mrs. R told us if the understudies do well in rehearsals, we might even get to do one of the performances!” She continued to be chatty about how rehearsals had been going… until a few weeks ago.
Eventually we found out that she’d found out the understudies would not get to perform after all. More recently, Billup told us that every understudy except for her would be performing.
We’ve tried talking to her about it—no doubt completely the wrong thing to do:
“I’m so sorry, honey! That must be disappointing.”
She’d shrug dismissively. “I don’t really care. It’s just boring at rehearsals is all.”
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“No! It’s really fine. Why are you guys making such a big deal about this!? It really doesn’t matter.”
And it really doesn’t, in the scheme of things. Both my kids are healthy. Neither Billup nor her older brother is hanging out with the wrong crowd or getting involved in gangs or drugs (as far as we know). In terms of the “bigger” problems we could be facing with our now-bigger kids, this is pretty insignificant. All the same, I wish the biggest things I had to worry about right now were sleep deprivation and trying to figure out whether my baby’s cry was hunger or a poopy diaper.
The final performance of the play is tonight. My husband and I will attend, as will Billup. I will laugh at the right places and clap at the right times. But my heart will break, just a little.
*All names have been changed to protect individuals’ identities.