Yesterday I spent the day with my 16 year old daughter. I mean, I spent just about the WHOLE day. And it was good.
I often realize that the time I spend with her is not quality time. I don't mean to do that, it just happens. Life is "just too busy" or she's doing things I don't approve of. Usually when she wants to do something with me, it costs money and like so many others, we're short of that. Because of the costs that always seem to be involved, I don't do a lot with my daughter...but yesterday, it was different!
About two weeks ago she asked if I'd want to be a judge in a drama festival at her school. Having considerable experience in the past with teaching and being a part of drama, I agreed--even though I knew it would mean that I'd have to give up an entire day and that day would probably be beautiful (something that has been a rarity these past few weeks). And, of course, it was.
She needed some money for the group she was with--to buy pizza and drinks. Naturally. As a judge, I was given all sorts of perks--like snacks and drinks--so the only cost to me was the fuel to get to the festival. Most of the youngsters involved (and there were like 325 of them) came from schools all around our state--some traveling several hundreds of miles to get there. The majority of Bri's drama group were working as "gophers" since the school she attends was the host for the festival. The other kids likely had a stipend from their schools. Bri and her friends had to provide for themselves.
The festival involved breaking up students into groups and each group being given a "prompt." Most groups were made up of six to eight kids. From the prompt and a "prop," each group had to develop an original skit that followed the rules of dramatics that they had learned and experienced. As one would expect, with the random groupings of youngsters, the talent varied a great deal in the groups. Each group had to learn each member's strengths and weaknesses as well as incorporate those into the skit. This all had to be conceived, composed, developed and produced in about 2 1/2 hours! The twelve groups I judged were surprisingly homogenous and in most cases, their skits worked!
This missive is more about Bri than the vehicle that brought it about. She somehow managed to become my personal slave during the festival. That meant she was my runner and touch point for locations, paperwork, and information. It also meant she was with me during all the performances and participated in the warm-up exercises that I had each group do. It was the first time I saw her reacting with and collaborating with groups of kids out of her personal space here on the ranch. I liked what I saw. She has talent that should be nurtured. She's a leader. And she's a ham. This wasn't about "boyfriends" or teenage "drama" (which is mostly what she brings home to us). This was about her growing to become the person she's going to be. AND I liked what I saw.
During the lunch break, she had a slice of pizza with her friends and then came into the teachers' room--and remained glued to my side. She interacted with several people I was visiting with and, at times, took control of the conversation. I wasn't surprised at all at that. She has always gotten along well with adults. The folks I was with engaged her and made all the right noises. I'm not sure Bri should have been there but since she was, I ran with it. She certainly came across as a mature, caring sixteen year old girl. I liked what I saw. Naturally I know a lot about the "other" Bri that we deal with day-to-day but I was impressed with who she was throughout the day.
I contrast Bri and her behavior with that of a young gal who is living with us for a time...a young gal who has a dysfunctional family and has come to my wife and me for many years to escape, to be comforted, to blow off steam. I'm not sure what her "fathers" have been like. The little I know, it doesn't sound like there was much interaction and especially positive interaction. Maryann and I have always tried to be there for Bri...and yesterday I was glad I was.
I've made a personal commitment to try and be more connected to Bri's life during these last two years of high school. If what I saw yesterday is anything like what's coming down the road, I like it.