Parenting with a little bit of honey

Jane Reddington

Sounder Staff

Tuesday, April 19 2016

We went to the auditions for “A Week with Pooh” on a suggestion from a friend who said the local production was looking for children for the cast. I took both my children, expecting it would be a great experience for them to read the lines for a play, to get a sense of what being in the theatre is like.

When I was about 18, I went to work for Carousel Theatre, a Granville Island theatre company in Vancouver where I worked all summer to help put together a Shakespeare-in-the-Park play, set in the mount at the far end of the island. The warehouse behind us was derelict, but we set up benches and I sat in the light and sound booth during the production and worked the cues. It was a lot of fun and I rode my bike every day to Granville Island from West Vancouver and still marvel at my fitness that summer.

I loved the theatre. Being part of the backstage action was so much fun and the cast party at the end was so memorable. We were a family. So when my son said he’d like to try reading for a part, I felt excited for him. But I also wondered if he knew what he was getting into. There are so many lines to remember, but I didn’t want my bias to affect him at all. 

So off we went to have him read last night and he read several scenes with his sister playing the parts of Piglet and Tigger, and I thought it had been a great experience for them both. Then the director said, “We’d love to have you Toby, if you want to play Winnie the Pooh.” 

I almost jumped out of my seat. My son was being asked to play the lead, in a play that for an 11-year-old is a big undertaking. We asked for some time to consider the commitment and came straight home and sat at the table and read through the rest of the script.

The more my son read, the more he giggled at the jokes and the fun that is Winnie the Pooh, the more I saw that he could make a great Winnie the Pooh.

Then I thought about parenting and how we want so much for our children, but we don’t want them to be hurt, we don’t want them to fall, we want them to soar and to feel like anything is possible. Most of all we want them to find happiness and humour in life, to have experiences that may be the cornerstones of who they become as adults.

I am terrified of appearing in front of people, especially if it means pretending to be someone else. But for my son, he thought nothing of it and seemed so genuinely pleased to have won the part that it made me think, “this is really something.”

A proud mom, I feel awe and delight that my son should be so much better at something I could never do or even be asked to do. This is one of those moments of letting go and seeing just how far he will fly. I will watch from the nest, reading the lines of Piglet, Owl and Roo, remembering how much I loved these stories myself because they capture the innocence of being a child and I really do like the taste of honey.