April 14, 2015

I'm more than a fan. I'm the Dad.

It’s hard to imagine two more opposite performers than our children.

Gillian, our oldest, was born with showmanship. Last-minute complication had the nurses excited as they wheeled Cecile into the delivery room. But like the diva she was and is, she simply came out smiling and singing.

Garrett, our son, had less dramatic but arguably more dangerous natal entrance. He was born jaundiced and spent the next several days under bilirubin lights at the hospital while his mother and I worried.

Both of my wonderful children have, through the years, provided endless hours of the joy, laughter and even terror only a parent can experience. I never tired of their very different performing styles.

Our first video of Gillian shows her dressed in a pinafore and belting out “It’s a Hard-Knock Life” from Annie. She and her friend choreographed their act, complete dance steps and hand gestures.

No surprise, then, that she insisted on going to the Oregon Country Faire to have her ninth-month belly painted or that last week she dressed in the 1920s tweeds of Madame Librarian for a festival. She has never stopped delighting her audience – even if that was just good old Dad.

Our first video of Garrett showed a toddler pushing a toy shopping basket through the house with fierce determination. Nothing was going to stop him; nothing was going to break his concentration.

He was destined to become an engineer. He tackles every challenge with focus, energy and forethought.

The easy part of watching your kids perform is liking it. What’s not to like? Children (your own, that is) cannot sing off-key, fumble their lines or trip over props. It’s all part of the Biggest Show on Earth – parenthood.

Not that they can’t give you the cold sweats. When Gillian announced that she planned to become a drama major and that her boyfriend would be an art major, I had nightmares of supporting them for the rest of my life. Thankfully, Gillian changed both major and boyfriend.

Garrett specialized in stomach-gripping physical performance. He took up soccer early, but blossomed when he moved into the goalkeeper’s box. A keeper is the masochist at the end of the field who dives on the ball just as other players are kicking it. That is, when he is not diving into the path of a leather cannonball.

Eventually, Garrett grew out of competitive soccer. So he took up whitewater kayaking. You will never know how long you can hold your breath until you watch your son turn upside-down amid foam-splashed boulders.

But Garrett always rights himself, just as Gillian always gets deserving applause. And both make me so proud that I would gladly give up anything Hollywood can imagine to watch them perform the miracle of life.

Bravo, my children. Bravo.