I’ve already written here about some of the great skills I learned growing up in the theatre. Now I want to talk about my daughters, and what the arts give them. My oldest daughter in particular thrives–and indeed shines–onstage. She has stopped shows with her brilliant performances, as a dancer, singer and actor. More importantly, though, is the self-worth she finds in those moments.
It hasn’t been easy for her since I left her dad seven years ago. It took a few years until she was old enough to be told of his drug addiction, why he can’t be in charge of the girls without someone else’s supervision, and why he ends up in jail so often. The roles have been perversely reversed, and she worries about him like most parents worry about their children. She has to manage all of these different emotions she feels about him: anger, sadness, love, and acceptance. She does so admirably, but it has taken away much of her childhood innocence.
She finds that unadulterated joy in performance, in rehearsal, in music. She has learned to express herself artistically, sometimes entirely on her own. I can’t draw a straight line, but she’ll unwind by creating beautiful paintings and collages. She can get through any homework assignment with her iPod. We have some of our most fun family moments experiencing the arts together; belting out our favorite Broadway tunes on a road trip, going to see Broadway shows together, discussing favorite artists or movies.
Beyond enriching their lives, the Arts consistently expand my daughters’ world. After watching Princess and the Frog on DVD, we found a beignet recipe online and the girls made them together. Because we’re Lost fans, my oldest daughter decided to do a school report on philosopher John Locke. One of their favorite pastimes is writing scripts and then performing little plays for me or my parents.
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