It was amazing! The musical play performances of Disney’s The Little Mermaid by the Mortensen Elementary School drama club in Littleton, Colorado, were fabulous.
I know this because my dear wife and I traveled from our Salt Lake home to witness the presentations on Thursday and Friday evening. Of course, I’m not prejudiced because our ten-year-old granddaughter played the lead role of Ariel. Her singing, acting, and dancing were superb. Her smile was brilliant. She stayed in tune and even hit the really high notes. Her vibrato was just right. She gave real feeling to the character.
The thirty other cast members—all fourth, fifth, and sixth graders—were all excellent. They were well-directed and coached. Obviously, they had practiced long and hard over many months.
The costumes were brilliant. The stage props were awesome—especially for an elementary-school production. The underwater artwork was realistic, and the movable pieces were rotated effortlessly into place through the various scenes. Each of the actors wore an individual microphone headset—an indication of the fine technical support.
But it wasn’t so much this grand production that impressed and touched me the most. It was more so the many positive interactions between the cast and the audience members that transpired after the performances.
There were many comments of praise and congratulations to the cast followed by humble, circumspect responses of, “Thank you.”
One such interaction was especially poignant to me. The initial performance was for the student body during school hours on Wednesday—which we missed. On Thursday, a little girl in kindergarten who my granddaughter did not know handed her a picture of Ariel she had drawn with colored markers and a handwritten note on the back.
It said in rough, large kindergarten print, “To Ereil from Kylie I love your sho.”
My granddaughter shared it with us. On Thursday evening, I happened to catch her at her kitchen table writing a sweet reply note: “To: Kylie From: Ariel, I love your card! The card was one of my favorite parts of my day. The card was so nice. You are good at drawing. Thank you!”
She was set to deliver it to the kindergarten girl during school on Friday.
I’ve thought over and over about that tender interaction between the two. I’ve pondered about how most of us adults probably don’t take the time and effort nearly enough to engage in such important communications.
I believe we all desperately need them often … from both sides. We need to express our admiration and appreciation to others more. These acts build our character and emotional health and help bond us to others.
We all need to hear sincere confidence-building comments, also. It’s part of the human experience that helps carry us through all the difficult stuff.
A few weeks ago, I had an unusually uplifting experience at a facility for a not-for-profit organization. I noticed that the staff was especially patron-focused—being attentive and going out of their way to serve my needs. I was so touched that I wrote and sent a letter to the head of the organization … the kind of thing that I don’t do nearly enough.
Through the grapevine, I heard back that my letter was shared in several staff meetings … because this kind of positive feedback was rare. I felt benefitted from the interaction, and I sense that several in the organization did also.
At times in my mental-health promotion efforts I find myself so focused on things like psychotherapy and psychotropic medications that I often forget that it’s the little words of positive feedback that can really be helpful as well.
I don’t consider myself to have a good memory, yet I can remember the kind communications from others that positively impacted me many decades ago.
Regardless of the enormous impact comments like these have made on me, I fear I fall woefully short in “paying it forward.” I need to make a better effort in noticing and sincerely commenting to others about their goodness.
After all, in spite of all of the “amazing” and “fabulous” performances going on that lift us, it’s usually the sincere one-on-one communications of praise that ultimately push us up the most.