face make-up for fourth grader as Nemean Lion of myth

make-up & photo? j. pinkalla, people!


ou don’t have to only come to one show,” Roy told me. “My teacher told me you could come to all of them.”

We were in the car driving home yesterday, discussing Roy’s theatrical triumph in his reading class’s parody of Hercules and the twelve labors. I don’t know very much about mythology but Roy’s character was a take on the Nemean lion of legend, a performance that was equally informed by the Cowardly Lion of The Wizard of Oz, Edward G. Robinson and Hanna-Barbera’s Snagglepuss. He painted our only spare dog collar pink and borrowed a friend’s bottle of glitter to make it shine. In full face make-up, he hissed and spat, remembered his lines and was tenacious in his hold on that ambitious accent he chose. I couldn’t have been prouder.

The performance we caught was the first of three, though, and only now did I understand that Roy was kind of hoping that we’d be present at more than one of them. Possibly not less than three.

His desire to have us there was sweet but somewhat surprising. Of The Three, Roy is the one least likely to demonstrate any particular delight (or relief, even) that you have decided to make an appearance at something. After Monday’s performance, for example, I called him over to the desk where I was sitting to praise his work. He was busy, though, playing with other people’s props, asking the teacher to play her Jingle Cats CD, pretending to steal a classmate’s costume hat. This was alright with me, but one can understand how I might be under the impression that whether or not I was at one of the shows—much less all three—was of little consequence.

But then I remember Marcel’s first public school Thanksgiving in kindergarten. The parents were invited to join their children for the school holiday meal. Marcel wasn’t one much for eating, much less eating turkey, so the cafeteria’s interpretation of Thanksgiving wasn’t something he was all that excited about. I was concerned that he might feel lonely at a lunch table with everyone else’s parents there except his own, though, so I went. But I clearly remember sitting there with him, across from another parent, wondering why we’d bothered.

“They don’t even seem to know that we’re here,” I observed as the boys talked to each other, moved their food around (or, in Marcel’s case, in and out of ziplock bags) and made plans for recess.

“They’d know if we weren’t,” the dad across the table said.

Roy’s second performance was a roaring success; I know because I was there. Today’s third and final show will be the hardest to make—I’ve had this lunch date scheduled for awhile now—but I’m going to try to make my excuses so that I can be there for this one, too.

I mean, as long as he still wants me there, right?