My Thoughts, Exactly: Life is not a rehearsal (unless you're in a high school musical)

I'm blessed to have four kids call me Dad. At least, that's what they call me to my face. They might have other terms of endearment when I'm out of earshot, but as long as it's Dad, Daddy, Pops, Father Dearest, the Big Kahuna or Exalted One when I'm in their presence, I'm good to go.

Full disclosure: Two of our four “kids” are all grow'd up, married and living on their own. But the younger two are still teenagers — or that phase I liken to the pupa stage of a caterpillar's life span where things get really ugly and hard for a while, just before the little critters break out, spread their miraculous new wings and fly away.

Of course, we certainly hope that each of our moths … er, kids will return home often for holiday reunions and family dinners (provided they bring a side dish or dessert, of course). Until that time, the two remaining young'uns still under our roof are also under our loving guidance and best attempts at lasting character development.

Now, you might assume that we see a lot of our two high-schoolers. However, the truth is that we only see one of them, our youngest, on any given day. He's a sophomore at Crescenta Valley High and seems to like being home on a regular basis. Go figure.

His elder brother, a senior, is a different story. He's a self-described choir geek who loves to sing, dance and entertain. That much we know. What we're not so sure of is what he looks like these days. That's because we've hardly seen him since rehearsals for CV's spring musical began the first week of the year.

We think he still lives here. Piles of dirty clothes magically appear on his bedroom floor. Food disappears from the kitchen sometime during the late night or early morning hours. Every once in a while we get cryptic notes about needing money for this or that school function. And yet, we'd have a difficult time picking him out of a crowd.

To put our minds at ease, my wife and I slipped into CV's MacDonald Auditorium during a technical rehearsal last weekend. Sitting in the darkness of the empty theater, it was inspiring to watch the kids rehearse (and yes, we did see one cast member on stage who looked vaguely familiar). This year's musical is “Once On This Island” — a fanciful retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen classic, “The Little Mermaid.” But don't think cutesy cartoons and singing seafood. This story line is considerably more Dante than Disney.

I don't know what powerful juju director Brent Beerman uses on these kids to earn such an impressive amount of dedication and commitment of time. I can't even seem to get our overflowing kitchen trash taken out once in a while. Nevertheless, it's impressive to see the devotion of these young performers who have rehearsed many long hours, six out of seven days almost every week the past two months.

The good news is that opening night has at long last arrived. I can take comfort in knowing that when the curtain comes down on that final Saturday night performance two weeks from now, our son will be finished with rehearsals, run-throughs, cast-bonding workshops, choreography sessions, fix-it days, and actual performances. Of course, there's always the mandatory attendance for set tear down the following Sunday. Then choral rehearsals begin in earnest the following week for the upcoming spring pops concert. And there's the choir trip to Seattle before Easter break, and

And it's a good thing we have his big, glossy senior picture on the wall so we recognize him the infrequent times he comes through the back door and we're still awake.

Maybe extracurricular activities like high school musicals are God's way of preparing parents to see their kids leave the proverbial nest for the independence of college and life as a young adult. Maybe, but I'll be glad when this musical is over and I can finally peel the sticky label off my shirt that says, “Hello! I'm DAD.”


Crescenta Valley High School presents “Once On This Island” at MacDonald Auditorium, 4400 Ramsdell Avenue., La Crescenta.

Performance Dates:

Friday, March 7 and Saturday, March 8 — 7:30 p.m.

Friday, March 14 and Saturday, March 15 — 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, March 9 at 2:00 p.m.

Contact for information and reserved seating.

JIM CHASE is a freelance writer and lifelong Crescenta-Cañada resident. He can be contacted at

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