We are on vacation in Sunriver, Oregon. Last night, as part of our Sunriver summer vacation tradition, we went to the mall here to spend the evening reveling in the joy of a performance by a local entertainer, Michael John. We stumbled across Michael John some fifteen years ago and his performances have been a highlight of our summer vacations ever since. In fact, we count Michael and his wife, Kim as friends; they were part of the group that helped us celebrate our 30th anniversary in Disneyland last year.
A Michael John performance is not just a concert; it’s an audience participation event. There’s dancing, sing-alongs, the occasional audience member spotlight and lots of laughter. When we first started going to Michael John’s performances, he always ended the evening with You’ve Got a Friend. I remember many evenings, standing outside in the warm summer air, arms entwined with friends and family who were with us, swaying back and forth to the lyrics of You’ve Got a Friend. Twelve years ago or so, he changed the last song from You’ve Got a Friend to Shout! Now, there’s a lot of difference between swaying back and forth to You’ve Got a Friend and jumping up and down to Shout! Personally, I used to think I preferred the former, but, as with most changes, over time I learned to love the new ending. Part of what I loved was that our children really loved getting involved with Shout! They jumped, they lowered themselves to the ground (A little bit lower now, a little bit lower now), they threw their arms in the air and, the highlight of the acrobatics, their dad, my husband, would take them, one at a time, and throw them into the air while singing, “Shout!” The kids loved being tossed up into the air; they would jump around their dad waiting for their turn to be lifted high above his head.
We have a wide age range of children (ten to twenty-six) and, obviously, the oldest have been too big to toss for several years now, but the four youngest have always taken their turn at being tossed, even though the older of them had to help by putting in a good jump as they were lifted. Last summer, our four youngest children (nine to fifteen, at the time) still each took a turn at Shout! with their dad. Last night, none of them did. My husband started out the song on his feet, ready to take on the challenge, but as the song began and he motioned to each of them to come Shout! with him, they each, in turn, declined. It’s true, my husband is recuperating from tennis elbow and is wearing a brace on his right arm, but he was willing to forego the elbow recovery in order to continue this much-loved tradition with the kids; however, the kids (perhaps acting more responsibly than their dad), each declined, afraid of further injuring his arm. My husband eventually went and sat down, rubbing his elbow while the rest of us finished out the song on our feet. This morning, while we were out running, my husband lamented that last night was the first time that he had sat out Shout! He said that, while he’d known that eventually all of the kids would be too big to toss, that eventuality always seemed so far away, that he hadn’t really given it any serious consideration. Then, without warning, last night was the night – all the children were too big and my husband sat out the dance. I’m looking at this as a lesson for us for the future – when we can no longer do an event or activity, when something changes for us, do we just sit out the dance or do we accept the change and figure out a way to adjust? I’m hoping that next week when we go see Michael John perform, my husband will dance with me and Shout! – I don’t need to be thrown up into the air.