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Friday
Dec022011

Behind the Curtain

When you go to the theater, you do not see everything. 
 
There is this handy velvet curtain to keep your eyes away from the scurrying actors and shoved sets, the flashing costume changes and blatant breaches of the illusion. 
 
On occasion I go to a dress rehearsal, because the director wants a small audience for the actors to practice on before opening night. Then I can expect to see imperfect entrances, and dropped lines. The last time I did it a whole plate of brownies went flying, and a mike fell off its perch on the lady's collar. But this was not as much a travesty as good information about how to shine up the show. 
 
Imagine if a student majoring in theater spent four years watching performances. Suppose he or she was never privy to the activity back stage. There is certainly value in seeing things go well, but if we are blind to how those actors and sets got there, we would be unprepared to go out and get a job on Broadway. Even if the plays you are one day hired to produce are not the exact ones you worked on as an undergrad, you learn how the process works. People can figure it out, given a chance to observe. 
 
The other day I was visiting with a dear couple. Mid conversation their daughter came barreling in, begging for the keys to her father's car.
 
"My car doesn't work, dad! It won't start and I am late for work!!!" she pleaded. 
 
I assumed he would hand them over, but he did not.
 
"What happens when you try to start it," he calmly asked. He did not seem as anxious as she wanted him to be. He knew that her job was one mile away and had a flexible start time. 
 
"It's old, dad, I don't know," she seemed irritated. 
 
"My car is full of gas, and I think you want my gas as much as my car," he suggested. The two of them went outside, and I saw him holding a red gas can. It turns out she was on empty, and had kind of forgotten that until now. 
 
My friend mentioned that good boundaries are hard for this child, and they are learning how to love her without getting trampled. I am not sure if the daughter learned what they wanted her to, but I got a quick peek behind the curtain of family life. I will not forget that solving the immediate emergency may not always be the wisest course of action. Probably that exact scene will not show up in my house, but given a chance to observe good parenting, I might figure it out.