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I enjoy watching the show, not being in it - Valerie Baldowski

I had a most enjoyable time Saturday night, when my husband and I went to a show, then to dinner.

But it wasn't just any show and any dinner. The show was a talent show, and my child was on stage. Now, if that doesn't bring out the parent in someone, then they're a cold, dead rock with no heartbeat.

My husband, bless his heart, was his usual slightly-late self. The show was to start at 5:30 p.m., and the performers had to be there 15 minutes early to get into costume, with the teachers' help. My son and I arrived early -- 5 p.m. -- and had a few minutes to spare.

At 5:22 p.m., I called my husband on his cell phone asking if he was on his way. He was surprised by the call, as he, somehow, thought the show started at 6 p.m. It worked out, though, because the show was running late, and he just made it in time.

My son played a jellyfish, and thoroughly enjoyed dancing around on stage with his classmates, all wearing their costumes. They were the very first act. Of course, we took pictures and videotaped the whole thing.

That got me to thinking about my days in school, and the few school performances I was in. I am thoroughly convinced my son is much better on stage than I ever was. When I was in fifth grade, I got a part in the class production of "Romeo and Juliet." I remember my mother putting together a costume for me, the hours of rehearsals, and the jittery nerves on opening night.

I tried not to look nervously at the audience when I made my entrance, and somehow, I made it through to the end of the play. Of course, my mother took tons of pictures of her goofy daughter in her costume, and carefully, saved them for years to come in a photo album.

In high school, I had a part in our class play, "The Little Prince." On another occasion, I landed a part in the school production of "Alice In Wonderland." Again, I felt that familiar nervous flutter each time I got on stage. To make matters worse, on opening night of "Alice In Wonderland," the leading man forgot his lines.

I will always remember the total silence as we all sat there, waiting for Dan to remember his next line, so we could move on from there. By this time, I had decided that showbiz and the footlights were not for me. I didn't enjoy sweating it out before the curtain rose, hoping I wouldn't blow my lines, or enter from stage left instead of stage right.

It seems my son is the exact opposite. It must be his outgoing personality. He loves the limelight and the attention, and enjoys nothing better than bouncing around on stage, posing for the inevitable camera.

He eats it up. I wonder if Hollywood or Broadway are in his future. I compare this performance to his class Christmas play, in which he was a wise man, and I see a pattern emerging. He is rapidly developing poise, more self-confidence than I could ever imagine, and a stage presence I didn't have at that age.

Then, when he steps off stage, he's right back to being that curly-haired little guy I'm used to, cutting up and clowning around with his friends. After Saturday's performance, which was in the church sanctuary, we went next door to the fellowship hall for a chili dinner.

It was delicious. He had no interest at all in chili, just the desserts, candy, and playing with his friends. Times like these fly by. I'll cherish events like this one long after he's grown.

Valerie Baldowski covers government and politics for the Henry Daily Herald. She can be reached via e-mail at vbaldowski@henryherald.com.