April Jeppson: Lessons learned from preparing for a play

Published 8:45 pm Friday, March 4, 2022

Every Little Thing by April Jeppson

As a kid I was involved in everything. Any activity or group I could join, I was in. I would go to jazz band practice before school, softball after school and then go to play practice until 7:30 p.m. McGregor had just over 400 residents at the time, and there was plenty of room on every team or club for kids. If you want to play football, go for it. Want to be in the play? Do it. Growing up in a small town, there’s not a lot to do, so school activities were where it was at.

April Jeppson

My son mentioned to me that he was going to try out for the school play. I’m not one to force my kids to play the same sports I did, or follow in my footsteps. Just because I love to stay busy, doesn’t mean they need to. So when he organically decided to do this, it really did melt my heart. I have such fond memories of play practice and the friendships I made during that time. I was really excited for him.

He told me that he was trying out for a smaller role, “A few lines, nothing crazy.” I was still happy for him. It doesn’t matter how big of a role you have, it’s the experience and the memories. Like all activities, it’s learning to work together towards a common goal. And like all performance based activities, it’s that onslaught of nerves you get right before you go on. Finding the power to push through the shaky hands and upset stomach and then the rush you feel after you’re done. You learn so much.

He went to his audition and had to wait a few weeks to hear if he got the role. Imagine his surprise, and mine, when he opened his email to discover that not only was he in the play, but he was cast as the lead character! I was beyond thrilled for him. I knew that although this was more than he had signed up for, he was going to learn so much.

I think it’s important that every kid try new things. Not everyone wants to be on traveling sports teams. Not everyone even wants to play sports. The character you build from playing team sports is huge, but I believe there are other ways you can learn those same principles. There is band, youth in government, mock trial, choir, 4-H, robotics, theater — so many non-sport activities that teach the importance of teamwork, not giving up, trying your best and working hard.

There was one week that was particularly hard for my son. He wanted to give up and quit. Many good conversations came out of it — how he made a commitment to this and needed to see it through, people were depending on him, he could choose to not do it next year if he wanted. Ultimately, he powered through and showed up for his team.

The play is this week. I get to see my son perform, and excited isn’t even the right word. Watching your children grow and become awesome humans is such a wild experience. Watching them conquer fears and accomplish things they didn’t think they could, your heart almost explodes. I’m so thankful for this town and the opportunities my children have here. And I’m thankful for all the teachers and volunteers (including my own) that make it possible for kids to experience all these fun yet important activities.

Albert Lean April Jeppson is a wife, mom, coach and encourager of dreams. Her column appears every Saturday.