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Summer Activities As The Credits Roll

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Aug 5, 2016

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It’s been a strange couple of weeks. For some reason, July has been a very hot month. These lazy days of summer are always just a bit long, and the girls and I spend a lot of time looking at one another, all wondering when we’ll be back to the school routine. My wife has been inordinately busy, so it was up to the three of us to make this work.

I decided to sign the girls up for more summer activities. For the most part, these classes and workshops are usually a way to kill time — certainly in the case with the 4-year-old. But with the 8-year-old, we are on a vision quest to find some activity that will spark her interest. So when I found an acting class, I signed her up.

I thought, this will be a great opportunity for her to learn that the world is a tough place, and that she would have to audition for parts in plays, for jobs, for nearly everything in life.

The first week of the class consisted of an “audition” in which the kids would practice a piece and learn how to audition for a part in a theatre group. On the first day, we went to the class –  but immediately we both got a very strange feeling. Every other mom there looked like she had been training a child actor. All the children were nice, but… eerie. When they talked to one another, it was almost like they were performing a conversation for a camera. The whole scene – and it was a scene – was just a little off.

My daughter looked at me with a puzzled expression that said, “Are you really going to leave me here with these strange people?”

I did. Of course I did. We paid for it, so I gladly left her there.

Four hours later, when I came back  to pick her up, she ran to the car: “Dad! I didn’t like it! It was weird!”

By now, readers, you probably know my usual thinking on these things; I have a tendency to throw her back in the next day and tell her to “make it work.” But not this time. I’d felt it too; those kids were unnatural. This time I decided to give her a break.

“You don’t have to go back,” I assured her. “Just don’t worry about it.” She looked relieved.

For the rest of the week we kind of messed around the house and forgot about the acting program. But as we all started to get a bit mopey again, I decided it was actually worth a second chance. The second week of the program was an actual acting class. “Let’s go to this,” I urged her. “You’ll like it.” I meant it, too; it was why I had signed her up in the first place. Maybe the auditions had thinned the class a little, made it a less intimidating and intense.

At the end of the second-first day, her walk back to the car was a springy one.

“Soo…?” I asked.

“I liked it! I liked it a lot!”

A couple of weeks later, when the class’s final performance came around, she played her part with genuine excitement.

Sometimes, in the lazy, hot days, even when you mess up summer activities, you get lucky. And sometimes, when you’re not really trying, you kind of stumble backwards into good parenting decisions.

Now my daughter is excited to do a play later in the year, and we may, just may, have found something she is passionate about. I don’t know if we have the next great Bollywood actress on our hands. But hey, she did ask me if she can sign up for Bollywood dance lessons on the ride home as well. Maybe this is how a star is born —  – not through coaching, but through giving something you thought was weird another try.

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Written By Rajat Soni

Rajat is an Indian-American stay-at-home father of two girls, aged 7 and 3, one of whom was born in India. After working as a lawyer and raising his girls for several years in Mumbai, he moved to the U.S., where he became the primary caretaker for his daughters while his wife started a new job. He’s interested in exploring the role modern fathers play in the lives of their young children.

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