Tuesday, February 22, 2005

I think one of the coolest things about having kids is seeing them develop into separate people and watching as they discover each new thing about themselves.

For example, Matilda comes alive on a stage.

This totally surprised me. Matilda is reserved, sensitive, bookish, and observant. She answers most questions with one-word answers.

I figured we'd ride out the musical theater class as a fun, after-school diversion and then move on to the next short-lived interest. There's nothing wrong with that. Nine is the perfect age to throw a bunch of stuff against the wall to see what sticks.

I mean, whenever she practiced the songs at home or talked about rehearsal, she just seemed so nonchalant about it.

I actually sat in the audience on Saturday, before the first performance of The Pirates of Penzance, hoping that she'd at least be able to keep up with the other kids or blend in and seem as if she knew what she was doing.

I was not expecting her to come skipping out onto the stage, arm-in-arm with one of the other Major General's Daughters, smiling from ear to ear and confidently projecting complicated lyrics. From her diaphragm! I didn't actually realize she had one until that moment.

Her face beamed expression. Her choreography was graceful, poised, and precise. She expertly downplayed a potentially disastrous wardrobe malfunction in which another girl's fan became entangled in the lace of Matilda's hat. I saw other performers flub their singing a few times. Not Matilda. She knew every word.

Proud doesn't even begin to describe how I felt.

Between shows, the kids had been instructed to "find a fun and relaxing way to unwind and recharge." Matilda instructed me to take her to Borders. She wanted to browse for a new book. Then she told me we would take the new book to Starbucks for hot chocolate.

As soon as we walked into the bookstore, she inhaled and said, "Ahh, I love the smell of this place!"

Is she the coolest kid, or what?

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