Tuesday, June 26, 2012

To Be or Not To Be...The Boy's adventures in summer camp

We sent The Boy to summer camp at Northwest Children's Theater, and he LOVED it.  The theme for his age group was Busytown, like the Richard Scarry books, because NWCT did a production of Busytown during their season last year.  My parents took him to see it, and he about lost his mind, since he loves the books so much.  He wanted to know how old he would have to be before HE could be Huckle Cat, and he got his picture taken with practically every cast member, beaming the whole time.

So when I saw the listing for this year's summer camp, saw that it was happening during one of the four weeks that his preschool was closed this summer, and asked him if he was interested, he was SO excited.  He looked forward to it the whole rest of the school year.  It was definitely more expensive than the community center summer classes I had been planning to fill his weeks off with, but in this case it was totally worth it.

The Boy's big entrance
"I'm Terry Turtle, the taxi cab driver!"
Breaking the fourth wall 
The Busytown Song--big finale.
It's kind of great having a fan club.

There is another round of Busytown camp at NWCT in August that coincides with The Boy's other weeks off of school.  And it's a different theme and script, so it would be a different experience.  They told them about it when The Boy went to camp, and he's been asking to go.  I love, love, love that he's so excited about theater and being in plays.

I was a theater major in college, and then a drama teacher.  So naturally, I am passionate about performing and am so excited that it is something The Boy is loving to do too.  I loved seeing him on stage at camp, and would be thrilled if he became a "drama kid" in school.


I have to keep reminding myself:

He is four years old.

He would most likely be equally excited about any kind of camp that I sent him to.  Just because he had fun at drama camp does not mean that he is destined for a life in the theater.  I wouldn't even necessarily WANT him to be destined for a life in the theater!  And he is four years old, why am I even thinking about him being destined for a life in anything specific?

So.  I have told him that if he really wants to do another camp instead of having a week of break at the end of the summer, we will look at a variety of kinds of camps and see what else he might think was fun.  There are t-ball classes, space-theme camp, art camp, nature camp, zoo camp, science camp, pirate camp, elf and fairy camp...so many things.  As I have been reading him the descriptions of the different camps, the ones that get him excited are the ones that mention plays and performance.  Which I KNOW is a result of just finishing a performance camp that was very very fun for him.  I still have to remind myself that he needs exposure to lots of kinds of activities at this point.

It's so hard, though, because obviously it's easier for me to work up excitement about something that I am truly passionate about.  As he gets older and is making choices for what he is interested in, I will be supportive no matter what it is.  So I feel like my job for now is to do my best not to influence that decision.  Sure, expose him to drama, but try not to seem any more excited about that than about anything else.  But is it wrong that I want to just let him keep on rolling on the drama train, because he loves it and I love it so why not just encourage it?  Not to mention that I think that drama is chock full of valuable skills for kids, transferrable to lots of different areas.  I mean, how much more fun would I have as a parent volunteer someday if he ends up involved in things that I know something about, enjoy, and could be very helpful with?  How much more patient would I be with endless practices and driving around if the end result was something I truly enjoyed and believed in, rather than got through?  I'm sure that I will enjoy seeing The Boy participate in whatever it is that excites him someday, but it's SO HARD not to be selfish right now and point him in the direction of the things that excite ME.   What if I let him choose for himself and he ends up wanting to play FOOTBALL?!?  At least traumatic brain injuries are rare for drama kids!

When we chose to send The Boy to drama camp this summer, I totally found myself explaining every time, "The theme is Busytown, and The Boy loves Busytown and loved that play so much that this seeemed right up his alley..." which is absolutely true, but what I was really saying is, "I'm not a stage mom, I'm not pushing The Boy to do theater because I love theater, this camp is about more than just theater..." just in case anyone was judging me as such.  Because I know there is a grain of truth there.

Maybe I have nothing to worry about--as The Boy gets older, he will continue to form opinions about what he enjoys and what he doesn't, and I can sit back and just appreciate what he comes up with. At four years old, I am constantly impressed and surprised by the strengths he has in different areas, and I want him to continue building as many of them as he can.  And maybe if I back off, he'll end up choosing things I'm interested in all by himself, which would be much more satisfying than if I feel like I pushed him into it in any way.

So help me out here--how do you decide what activities to expose your kids to, especially when they are too young to have a clear opinion?  A little bit of everything?   The things you personally enjoy?  Things that aren't your own strong suit so they won't be getting them at home?


  1. This is a tough one, Beth. I would probably just let him do it because he wants to, and it was so successful last time.

    But personally, I hope my kid doesn't want to do anything in the theater. I think the theater tells you LIES. Every kid that plays a sport doesn't believe they will one day play in the major leagues, but something about theater makes everyone believe they will one day be A BIG STAR. Coming from our background, I feel like I know so many successful, happy adults with fulfilling lives who nonetheless feel like failures on some level because they never became famous. OR, EVEN WORSE, the adults who are 40 and still being supported by their parents and unable to cope with real life because real life requires a J-O-B that is not fun all the time, like The Theater, which they insist IS their job.

    Gah. But how do you say, "Darling child! You are so talented and sparkly and special! I encourage you to keep doing this! But dude, you aren't THAT talented, so study hard!"

    This is a very thorny topic. xoxoxoxo

    1. "You are so talented...but study hard!" EXACTLY! I'm not as extreme as you--I would love it if Liam wanted to be involved in theater...in high school. Once career paths are involved, I'm far less enthusiastic, for the very reasons you discuss. I have to say though, after teaching high school and middle school drama, there are a ton of kids who love doing plays for fun and go on to be pre-med students or whatever. It's when they decide to be theater majors that there are issues (ha ha). If Liam does decide to participate in theater, I hope he does it for FUN and not some drive for fame.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. My deleted comment was just my reply to Jenny, but I decided to make it a reply instead of it's own comment! Nothing to see here! (I'm always curious when I see a deleted comment; it makes me wonder if the commenter said something inflammatory and regretted it.)

  4. First of all - Liam is simply adorable in that turtle costume, how can you NOT want to see more of that. Obviously, his outgoing personality, flair for the English language, and insatiable curiosity and creativity point clearly to the theater. BUT, I do think what's most important when children are young is to expose them to lots of different experiences. There's plenty of time in life to hone in on one activity or another, and he may surprise you with what really gets him going. I hear you that you'd rather it not be football or some other such nonsensical barbarism; however, being introduced to football or any other activity may teach him more about teamwork and socializing, etc. I know you already know/have thought about this and get what I'm saying, but I just wanted to throw in my two cents. Whatever you decide will be great, though, because I can't see you forcing him into ONE thing - and sometimes it's just fun to let our kids do something they're totally psyched to do.


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