You Never Know

The mom of a classmate of Theo's stopped me the other day.

"All I hear about is your son. Theo, Theo, Theo," she said.

Turns out Theo has been sitting on the bus with the classmate's younger brother and making quite an impression. Theo's just nine himself, but his behavior toward this kid--even just the act of sitting with him--makes him tell his mom, "Theo takes care of me."

I was surprised by this because I usually already know of the major relationships in my children's lives. They talk to me, which I love. But it turns out that Theo hadn't thought much of it; he'd simply done what was called for in the situation--be nice.

And what an effect it had. "He's always talking about Theo," the classmate told me.

In the play I'm doing with former prisoners, there is a man that has one line. I hadn't known he'd take part when I wrote the script, so I ended up giving him a short line that typically I would say from the wings during a performance.

He'd show up to each and every rehearsal--on time, script ready, even having bought some special clothes at a thrift shop. It broke my heart to see those little plastic tabs sticking out of the slightly stained polo shirt and khaki pants, and to tell him he wouldn't actually be seen during the play.

But I spent time with him on that one line. What it should sound like, how he should feel. Coached him on its importance, because it happened to be key to the meaning of the play.

After the first performance, the man interrupted a discussion with the audience to suggest they applaud me for my work. He was so grateful for that one line. Just four words.

Sometimes it doesn't take much to make a difference.


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