Hurricane In Our Hands

22 Nov

Timestamp: 13 November 2007


Posted December 20, 2004 at, this is an excerpt from A Blessing in Disguise, one of my favorite stories about my son Alphonse.

 Alphonse is proof that you can’t hold a hurricane in your hands. Why we never learn is something that surprises me, even after all these years.

December 7 was the much-awaited stage debut of our son. It was the first time in years that he would be part of something big and something as important as a school play. This was an important test of all the skills he has acquired and mastered this year.

We’ve never had Alphonse try out for anything like this before. We were afraid to push him and make him do more than he could because he can sense disappointment keenly. In a sense, we did not want him to rush and open his wings fully, lest he clip them on the rise and fall fast from the sky. We worried that his buoyant spirit might get hurt irreparably, just as we were afraid that having him near so many children could trigger an outburst or, worse, a regression.

Still, despite our initial reluctance, we bravely stood by and let his teachers teach him his parts for the play. For most Saturdays of the past two months, we accompanied him to the practice venues and watched hopefully as his teachers whisked him with his co-actors to perform their parts in secrecy. We were kept in the dark on what the play would be about. We knew very little about our son’s parts, save for the fact that he needed to be dressed up as a Roman soldier. Piecing together some clues along the way, we later added to our fount of knowledge. To our amusement, Alphonse was to portray the role of a Roman soldier during the time of Jesus.

My husband feigned protest, but he was more than too happy to see Alphonse in any role. He said if Alphonse was to be a Roman soldier, then he would make sure that his son was the best-dressed soldier in all of make-believe Jerusalem! Trooping to a fabrics market one bright and early Saturday morning, my husband and I went from stall to stall in search of the perfect materials. I had researched on the Internet days before and I designed a wearable, comfortable costume based on realistic and historical accounts of a Roman soldier’s dress.

Of course, we had to work within a budget, but by then, my husband was caught in anticipation of seeing his baby on stage. After a week of waiting, the costume was finally finished. As a final touch, I sewed a plastic replica of a breastplate and his nannies and I took turns teaching Alphonse how to hold a plastic sword and shield.

When the day of the play came, Alphonse seemed cooperative and took to his costume like fish to water. He whipped his cape in a Roman’s brisk march and tapped his knuckles on his breastplate to show his pride. When asked to pose for pictures, he repeatedly complied, even yelling in glee a few times.

Alas, it was too much to tempt fate. While Alphonse bore with the waiting amazingly, Murphy’s Law reminded us once again that if something can go wrong, it will. Add to that the maxim that if it’s too good to be true, it usually is, and we’re all set to end a winning streak. Just a scene short of his own entry into the world of entertainment, Alphonse threw a hissy fit. The waiting, the heat, the lights, the noise, and the hunger finally drove my son nuts.

Alphonse was bodily carried backstage while he howled and cried and implored to be let into the elevators. He tapped and pointed, tapped and pointed, and tapped and pointed yet again to the exit, his relentless character finally showing. And when we did not give in to his demands, all hell broke loose.

He was coaxed for one final scene, the scene where the forlorn Roman stands beside a crucified Christ, but he had already missed his moment of glory. In scene 13, Alphonse and his cohorts were to spar with the disciples of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, a one-minute dueling scene. We had practiced this for weeks and, in a flash, the moment was gone. Alas, with our hearts broken and a distraught Alphonse peppering us with kisses to allow him to leave, we finally gave in to our little superstar.

The next day, the little imp woke bright and early and, leading me by the hand, brought me to his Roman soldier’s costume. He raised his arms as if asking to be dressed, and when I did, he ran away in a flurry of action, cape whirling in a frenzy of red, hands gripping tightly his plastic sword and shield. He looked so happy, and for a minute there, it almost seemed like he was a normal boy playing dress-up. I had to smile in spite of myself.

I guess, ultimately, what this teaches us as a family is to live for the moment and savor each as if it were the last. With Alphonse, we cannot plan too much and way ahead for even the best-laid plans can go awry. Perhaps, too, I’ve added a little nugget of wisdom to my aging years: that the hurricane in our hands can give us the whirl of a lifetime, if I just give it a chance.


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