I know I have complained on this blog, “My kids are mean to me.” But my kids are also incredibly generous to me. Here’s one example. Last night, with only a few hours’ notice, my 15-year old, Hayden, agreed to go on a date with me.
We started with a juggling workshop from one of the amazing teaching artists at the New Vic. Hayden was about four feet taller than most of the other juggling students.
Beyond his height advantage, he came with the advantage of knowing how to juggle (thanks Ben Dziuba for teaching Hayden a few summers ago with the promise: “Hey man, juggling’s a great way to impress the chicks.”)
With the teaching artist, we had to choreograph our own juggling routine with scarves. Hayden really enjoyed trying to teach me a new skill. He also delighted in whispering to me, “See that other mom? She’s so much better at juggling than you!”
Then we sampled some of Dave and Buster’s family-friendly meals and some of the alien-unfriendly arcade games. Fun! We wanted to play a trivia game in the arcade, but had to dash across the street to the New Vic for Urban, a street circus from Colombia.
Everyone loves a circus, like the Big Apple Circus. But Urban does it better. Urban has heart. It has more thumpin’, bumpin’ hip hop music, gritty subtexts, and clouds of dry ice. It has more circus flips, dips, trapeze, tightrope, swings.
Those are skills of athleticism and music, but this troupe also has skills of the heart. They have resilience and grit. The young Urban circus group seems to have known some tough times together and found their way to survive through their artistry – through their music and dance. They seem to genuinely love and admire and need each other. (I’m seeing a metaphor emerge for families! Stick together! I’ll catch you when you leap from that high platform!)
When the performers tell their stories, just briefly, sometimes in Spanish with English captions, you get a feeling that performing on the stage right now is a highlight of their lives. New Yorkers can be jaded and sarcastic. So can 15-year olds. So can circus performers. But not last night.
Last night, everyone was in great form, impressing, sharing, laughing, gasping. There were a few times when the stunts were almost too much to bear and my son and I huddled together, afraid to look.
Kind of like parenting. You see stuff going down and you’re not sure you or your kid’s going to make it. But they do and they did. And you do and you did.
Thanks to Mama Drama for giving me a chance to see my son as a good date last night!