Guest Post by Mandy Jones
My 8 year old son Hunter just recently completed (endured?) a long, difficult, exhausting, and often stressful run of the show “Beauty and the Beast Junior” at a local theater. He made new friends and created great connections within the theater community that are sure to lead to bigger, better roles in the future.
As a family we nearly lived at the theater during the month of June. Overall it was a wonderful experience and I wouldn't trade it for anything. There was a lot of drama that came along with this particular show. I suppose one could say that is par for the course when it comes to theater. But I have a decent amount of theater experience and the amount of drama involved with this show seemed... outrageous.
From cast members dropping out mid-run to kids being called nasty names to their faces, it seemed that everyone was being affected by the long nights, double shows, and spending too much time in close proximity to these new family members. Despite being the second to youngest cast member, Hunter was no exception to this rule. The drama began to directly affect him. I learned just how much when he arrived home on the Friday night of week two and announced that a boy in the cast had strangled him and had slammed his head not once but twice into the poles in the dressing room.
I was so perplexed. Surely he was mistaken. Why would anyone do such a thing? Maybe he was confused and this was not what actually happened. But when I sent a text to a fellow cast mate questioning, he confirmed that it had happened and that Hunter had done nothing to provoke it. He was simply sitting there. Minding his own business. Immediately I began exchanging emails with the director who insisted that he'd take care of the situation immediately. At the theater the next day, the executive director and the producer had been brought in to discuss the matter.
This was no joke.
They were taking this quite seriously. And they were probably going to ask the child to leave the cast. I knew that this child loves theater as much as Hunter does. And for all I knew theater was just as much of a saving grace to him as it was for my son. I didn't want to be the reason that this child had the one positive thing in his life taken away from him. I told them that if they chose to remove him that was their decision and I supported it... but I wasn't asking for it and I wasn't demanding it. I just wanted my child to be safe. And I wanted him to feel safe. While the child was asked to not return that weekend, he did come back the following weekend. He was not allowed to be in the dressing room unless he was changing clothes and he wasn't allowed to be near Hunter unsupervised. This rule was enforced consistently.
The boy bought Hunter some candy and apologized “at least three times” and insisted that he had only meant to be playing around. And he was nothing but nice to us during the remainder of our time there. At the cast party, I noticed the two boys playing and laughing together like old friends. On the way home that day, Hunter told me that this boy “ended up being a really nice kid.”
I am thankful that my son had a chance to practice forgiveness. I am thankful that I had a chance to make a kind and loving choice. I could have gone into the theater demanding that he be thrown out of the cast. But instead I decided to offer him grace. And I'm so glad that I did because my son now has figured out what it is like to love someone even after they have wronged you. What a valuable lesson to learn. I'm so glad he has had a chance to learn it so early in his life.
About the Author:
Mandy is an unschooling, extended breastfeeding, homebirthing, placenta-eating, gentle parenting mama of three. She is daily searching for new ways to add authenticity to her life. She loves bright colors, sitcoms, and blogging at A Bona Fide Life. Photo provided by guest author Mandy Jones.