Crunching along side by side over the iced snow, Owen and I have our eyes fixed on our footing. Our path is really no more than a trail of dog and human footprints, now a lumpy mess to walk on. No sound except birds and the crunching.
Out of the blue Owen says, “Gas-ton.”
Seems like a cue, so I run with it.
“Gastohnnn!” I respond in the voice of the sidekick LeBoue, “you’ve got to pull yourself togeeeether!”
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is one of Owen’s favorites. Glancing over into his down-turned face, I am pleased to find him lit up with a grin. That’s the only encouragement I need to bellow out into the frozen woods–
“Gosh it disturbs me to see you, Gaston,
Looking so down in the dumps!
Every guy here’d like to be you Gaston
Even when taking your lumps—“.
The words, the characters, have been memorized without trouble over many years of supper-making to the tune of Disney movies. We have a theater-loving crew here,all of them fond of costumes, accents, and ham.
But it’s easy to forget this spoonful of sugar. All too easy for me to get cranky when dealing with Owen, to become instead plain old bossy and impatient mom. Better rested, I remember Mary Poppin’s advice – find that “element of fun” and snap! the job’s a game! Well, no not really, but it is a whole lot more pleasant all the way around. A spoonful of sugar beats a bowl of vinegar.
And the ham in me loves to make Owen wake up, tune in, listen and laugh.
“There’s no man in town as admired as you –
You’re everyone’s favorite guy.
Everyone’s awed and inspired by you,
And it’s not very hard to see why –!”
Maybe accents give voice to someone who always struggles to find his own. Sometimes Owen will quote to us from movies too, although these days it’s more likely to be a single word. It is an imperfect communication device for us. I have heard him growl, “Dee beeeeast.” Not sure if this would mean that O. is remembering a scary thing (from movie? life?) or telling us that he’s feeling pretty frustrated about something himself. We all have a beast somewhere in there.
This past week I took Owen’s sister to check out college musical theater programs in Boston and Philadelphia – the reason this posting is so late. The people in the arts communities we met were generally charming, open-energied individuals, people I can easily imagine knowing how to respond to Owen’s sort of person. In fact I think it would be a beautiful friendship. Makes me think that we should hook those two worlds up together more often. Actors love to make people laugh, and the good ones are trained to be highly observant, read cues, and fill in the blanks. That’s what it takes.