Friday, January 7, 2011

A Little Bird

Kids like to tell stuff. They especially like to tell stuff that is hair-raising or dramatic. And they most especially like to tell this stuff about each other, even if it involves a best friend.

That's the kid way.

When adults do this, it's unforgivable goopy gossip — but kids haven't learned that yet.

"Ms. Ryane, Oliver cried!"

This from the mouth of Oliver's best, best friend, Garth.

"Are you sure Oliver would want you to be telling me this, Garth?"

"Well, I can't say but he did cry all the way home in the car."

Oliver played our Macbeth. After months of working privately with me on the role and after months of hanging with his castmates at lunch to rehearse their lines and after months of our weekly Wednesday meetings...Oliver triumphed in four performances in one single day.

So, by the time that day was done, Oliver was pooped and wrung out. He traveled with Garth's family on the way to a sleepover with his buddy Garth, a.k.a. Banquo.

To make the bittersweet of this day even more bitter, Oliver knew Garth would soon be moving across the country to Texas. What's a guy to do?

Oliver wept as the car pulled away from the school and Oliver wept when he leaned his cheek against the cool window.

"Hey, Oliver," I said a few days later on the campus.

"Hey, Ms. Ryane," he answered.

"How did you feel after that long and wonderful day of playing Macbeth?"

"Well, I felt good."

We let our eyes follow the antics of children playing on the apparatus. Giggling and sliding, swinging and hiding....

"And kinda sad," Oliver continued.

"Do you know why?"

"I guess 'cause it was over, and also 'cause Garth's moving and everything will be different."

"Yup, and also because you're a real actor, Oliver. That sadness is exactly how real grown-up actors feel after a show ends and they've done the best job they could do."


"Seriously. And then you know what real actors do when they're feeling so awful and crying and stuff?"


"They imagine there's a little bird on their shoulder, and it's saying,
'Remember this, remember this....You might be able to use this in a scene one day.' "

I put my arm over his broad and very young shoulders. I gave him a squeeze.

"That's the price you pay for being good, Oliver."

My character is Lord Macbeth. I live in the palace of Glamis with a chandeller over the dinig room table. I eat chicken, soup, love apples...
—Oliver, 4th grade

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