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"That was quite an enjoyable experience. We haven't flown on a private jet before," Fin said as he got into our car at the airport in Naples.
"You've been so kind, there was no need to pick us up," Tatania added.
It was the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, which was the second weekend in October and we had decided to have the family get-together at the house in Naples this year. We had invited Sean's Grandparents, Fin and Tatania, to join us, so they could spend some more time with Sean and the family and we paid for a private jet to bring them down from Halifax. Dana and I got along with them very well, as we had kept up correspondence by email and phone since their visit in the summer. We had a lot in common, besides Sean.
Fin had brought one of his 'fiddles' and Tatania had brought her oboe. It was Tatania's idea to do a small concert with the kids and she had sent some music two weeks ago, which they had been practicing when they had some time, which was at a premium these days with 'Oliver' and hockey, to say nothing of their school work.
"We have a little something for you, Sean," Tatania said, as they handed him a nicely wrapped package after they had unpacked.
It was long and thin and Sean shook it before he opened it. None of us could figure out what it was. They also brought Jake a similar package, which was very generous of them.
"We didn't want to leave you out, Jake," Fin said, as they smiled at the boys as they ripped the paper off the packages.
Sean was very surprised when he opened the box and found a violin bow. Jake was also surprised when he picked up the double bass bow from his box. They gave Fin and Tatania a hug and thanked them profusely.
"These are high quality hand-made bows," Tatania said.
"We have a friend in Halifax, who restores string instruments and also makes his own bows," Fin said.
Sean and Jake had brought their instruments, as had Melissa and they were all looking forward to playing with Fin and Tatania. Transporting Jake's double bass was quite a feat and thank goodness we were travelling by private jet, as it could have been problematic. It was secured in the cabin of the aircraft.
Melissa came down with her mom and dad and they were staying at her Grandmother's place. Anne didn't usually come down this early in the season, but when Melissa told Anne that we were coming down for Thanksgiving, she and Monty thought that was a good idea for their family, as well. Anne would stay down until before Christmas and then come home to Canada.
The instruments weren't the only thing that we brought with us. We crated up Barney in a carrier and brought him down to Florida, as well. He was pretty good on the plane, as he was in the cabin with us and he didn't put up too much of a fuss, at least for him. We didn't dare let him out, for fear he would attack the flight attendant, or worse the pilot. As much as Dana complained about the little rascal a lot of the time, she enthusiastically backed the boys in their request to have him travel with us. I wanted to send him to the kennel, but the rest of my family had other ideas.
"You know how wild he got the last time when we picked him up from the kennel," Dana said.
"Could it be that you would miss him too much?" I asked, with a smile.
Dana shrugged and gave me a wry little smile and said, "Maybe."
Fin and Tatania were staying with us and Carol, Kyle, Katie and Marty were staying next door in our friend's house that we rented for the weekend, as they weren't using it. Susan, John, Garth and Glen were also staying in the same house and it had been a while since Susan and Carol had spent some time together. They had been friends growing up, but as was often the case, people drift apart as they make new friends and go on to other pursuits.
We were curious as to how Carol and Katie would find having Garth around for a full weekend. Both couples were thinking of starting families and Garth would give them a good test run.
"Oh boy. This house has a pool, too," he said, as he plopped his suitcase down in the foyer and made a beeline for the lanai when they arrived.
"Garth, it's generally polite to say hello to people when you come in," Susan reminded him.
The weekend was great and we managed to get in some swimming and a golf game with the boys and the girls had some quality shopping time. We also had a great Thanksgiving meal as John and Dana and I shopped on Saturday and got all the food for the feast on Sunday. Everyone helped get things ready from Jake, Sean and Glen doing some food prep, to Fin and Tatania taking our car and going to the local liquor store to get the wine, beer and spirits. Jake had offered to drive them, but I reminded him he couldn't drive in Florida with the Ontario learner's licence he had.
"I'm sure Fin and Tatania would be thrilled to have you take them, but your dad's right that you can't drive," Dana added.
Dana muttered something under her breath that none of us could make out, but it apparently wasn't important. Jake was Ok with our explanation and went back to the kitchen. I punched in the location of the nearest liquor store in the car's GPS and Fin and Tatania took off. When I got back into the hall, I met up with Dana, who was also heading to the kitchen.
"What did you say in the hall after you said that Fin and Tatania would be thrilled to have Jake drive them?" I asked.
"I said they'd be thrilled like a bad rollercoaster ride," she said, with a straight face.
"Now dear, Jake's getting better with his driving. He's even figured out how to use the brakes," I said.
Of course, John and Dana were the chefs and Susan and I were the sous chefs. Katie, Carol, Kyle and Marty had the envious task of taking care of Garth and Barney.
"We had a very pleasant afternoon of water games in the pool," Katie said, as she looked at Garth with a smile after we got together later that afternoon.
"And, we learned some new jokes," Carol said, as the couples laughed.
"Barney enjoyed himself, too, as he got a couple of long walks," Marty added.
"We made sure we didn't get too close to the edge of the banks of the ponds, in case he got swallowed by an alligator," Kyle said, with a chuckle.
"That would be a tasty 'marshmallow' for the alligator," I said, as we all enjoyed the joke at Barney's expense.
Before dinner on Sunday, we had some hors d'oeuvres which we prepared. The boys put the platters on the coffee table in the living room before the others arrived and didn't think anything of it. We were busy greeting everyone from the other house in the foyer and didn't notice that Barney was not under foot, barking his head off as he usually did.
"Where's Barney?" Jake asked.
Sean went to look for him and we heard him call out from the living room.
"Barney, get down."
When we got into the living room, Barney had taken off to the kitchen with a big chunk of cheese in his mouth.
"Don't touch the crackers, because he was licking them when I came into the room," Sean said.
"Oh my goodness. Whose idea was it to bring that little mutt with us?" Dana said, clearly exasperated.
I thought it best that I not remind Dana that it was her idea, as much as it was the boys. There was an old expression that 'discretion is the better part of valour', which was quite apropos in the situation.
Garth was in his glory at the dinner table, having such a large audience and some new people that hadn't heard his comedy routines, so he started into some riddles. Tatania and Fin were very taken by his outgoing personality.
"Do you know what the cowboy's favorite dog is?" he asked.
We all had guesses that included bulldogs, sheepdogs and maltese, like Barney, but, of course we weren't correct. Garth's giggling increased the more we came up with wrong answers.
"Are we ever going to get the right answer, or are you going to giggle the rest of the night away?" Tatania asked, with a big smile.
"A Dachshund," he finally said, and continued to giggle.
"And do we find out why that's funny?" Jake said, as reached behind his chair and tickled him, which escalated the giggling.
"Well, every cowboy wants to 'get a long little doggie'," he said, as he was now in full laughter, as we all were.
We weren't sure where Garth had heard that expression before, but we weren't going to ask him. Since he was on a roll, he remembered another riddle from his book that he felt was appropriate for the occasion.
"What do you call the pub on Mars?"
"The Red Planet," Fin answered.
"Good guess," Sean said.
"Nooo!" Garth replied, with a satisfied smile that no one was going to make the right guess, once again.
We were all waiting for the answer and Garth was just sitting smiling at us.
"Garthy, we're waiting," Glen said.
"You have to guess some more," he said, chuckling.
"And you have to eat some more," John added, as he gestured to Garth's plate which was largely undisturbed since the beginning of the meal.
"Ok, Ok. A Mars Bar!" he said, which was followed by groans from us and giggling from Garth.
"Speaking of something sweet, the rest of us are going to be ready for dessert soon and you can be too, but you have to eat some of your meal," Susan said, with a firm motherly voice, which was sounding more and more like Dana's.
"You like everything on your plate and nothing is touching anything else, so there's no excuse," John added.
After some negotiation, Garth finished a good portion of his meal. John had brought some cans of pumpkin from the Fire Hall Gourmet and made some delicious pumpkin pies with a dollop of fresh whip cream on top. Melissa and her family had joined us by this time and there was one piece left by the time everyone was finished.
We broke open the bottle of Macallan 12 year old single malt scotch and some of us had that while others had tea and coffee.
"I think it's time for the musicians to entertain us," Dana said, before everyone started to mellow out.
Melissa, Fin, Tatania, Sean and Jake got set up. They did the short pieces that Tatania had sent for them to practice and then ended off their part of the musical extravaganza with Vivaldi's 'Oboe Concerto in D minor'. It was a wonderful concert and the boys and Melissa held their own in the ensemble. Melissa's work on the cello was getting to be almost professional quality and Jake and Sean's abilities were quickly catching up to her.
Tatania was a wonderful oboist and Fin's violin work was excellent. He had helped Sean, Melissa and Jake with technique during the afternoon practice session and they were enjoying the input from him. The boys also liked the new bows and looked like they had got used to them fairly quickly.
"Bravo," Dana called out, after they were finished.
We were all clapping loudly as they took bows. Before they could sit down for the next part of the concert, Dana and I got up and gave the boys and Melissa a hug. Both Tatania and Fin were demonstrative people and they also gave all three kids a hug and lots of praise after they had finished.
"You kids are already accomplished musicians. We thoroughly enjoyed playing with you and we must do this again," Tatania said, with a big smile.
The last part of the concert was Garth singing 'Who will buy', one of the songs that he would be singing in the show 'Oliver'. He was going to be backed up by the 'ensemble' and Katie was going to play the electric piano that was in the house we rented, which Kyle and Marty were able to carry over without too much of a problem.
The song in the show had two other female voices singing with Garth, which were going to be sung by Susan and Carol. It was good to see Carol and Susan reconnecting. Susan used to sing in the choruses in the musicals in the 90s when our girls were dancing in them.
Garth undertook the job of introducing the piece to us, which Fin and Tatania found very amusing.
"Garth, I think we all know what you're going to sing," John said, trying to speed things up.
"We don't mind, John. I think the song needs a proper introduction and we just so happen to have a delightful master of ceremonies handy," Tatania said. Garth gave her a big smile.
"We're going to do a song from 'Oliver' called 'Who Will Buy'. It's near the end of the play and Oliver's found a nice home to live in and some nice people to take care of him. Carol and my mom are going to sing the girl parts," he said, in his serious voice.
They were just about to start and Garth remembered he had forgotten something.
"Oh yeah, I'm going to sing too," he said, then stepped back... then forward again. "I'm Oliver."
Katie and the ensemble had to wait a moment while Garth got rid of his giggles.
For the little that they practiced together, the piece sounded excellent. Susan still had a nice voice, and I was surprised at how good Carol's was. Katie's piano playing was, as usual, top notch and the rest of the ensemble was excellent. Except for a couple of minor mistakes, things sounded very professional.
Garth did a great job with the singing and if this was any indication at how he would do in the show, he was on his way to being a hometown star.
Afterwards, Melissa and Sean excused themselves to go for a 'walk'. Garth wanted to go with them and take Barney, but Jake and Glen intervened, as Garth didn't quite understand what was going on.
"C'mon, Garth. Jake and I will go for a walk with you and Barney. Sean and Melissa don't want to go the same way we do," Glen said, as they put the leash on Barney. Sean and Melissa gave Jake and Glen a big smile.
At breakfast on the Monday, Tatania and Fin had something they wanted to talk to us about. Everyone in our family was there and John and Dana had done a great job of preparing another feast.
"We feel we owe you so much, Al and Dana, for rescuing our grandson and we'd like to try and pay you back," Fin said.
"Sean told us all about Sean and Jake's place and the good work that is being done for the homeless and foster kids in the city as well as the foundation that you established," Tatania added.
They told us they would like to donate some money to the foundation to fund a program, that they became aware of in Halifax, that could be run through Sean and Jake's Place, where adults volunteer to be a mentor to a homeless or disadvantaged kid. They explained the program and the relationship was to be something like Big Brothers or Big Sisters, but much more.
"A consistent significant adult in a child's life is a major contributor to a child achieving and leaving poverty," Carol said. "This is something the foundation had been considering for a future program."
"When I sold my pharmacy to Shoppers Drug Mart, our financial situation became much more comfortable. I just work at Walmart to keep busy and to help out my friend," Fin said.
"We checked into the funding for the mentoring program in Halifax and we think that $50,000 should keep it going for a few years at least," Tatania said.
We were all shocked at the amount of their generosity and were speechless. Finally, Carol was the first to speak. She was still doing some of the marketing and fundraising for the foundation and she told them that there may be a way of piggybacking on their donation.
"I have some contacts with Shoppers here and I think they might be willing to match your very generous contribution," she said.
Sean was beaming from ear-to-ear at their offer, as was Jake.
"I know that giving money is the easy way out and that giving time is more difficult," Fin said.
"But, since we can't be here to give our time, we can ensure that we make it possible for other people to do that for us," Tatania added.
"We know that a positive relationship with a caring adult gives children stability and hope, which is something we can see firsthand," Fin said, as he gave Sean a squeeze.
We got back home to Canada late on the Monday night and the boys were a little tired the next day when they went off to school. They got into a disagreement with Dana, which was partly because they were cranky, but the other part was the 'know-it-all' disease that both Jake and Sean had been coming down with the last couple of months.
"We're not little kids anymore and we know how to handle Ms. Dragon lady," Sean said curtly, as he was annoyed.
This was in response to Dana's suggestions and motherly advice at breakfast on how to handle a situation that had arisen on the Thursday before we left for Naples with Trudy.
"Well excuse me for trying to help you two. I wasn't aware that you had become so worldly," Dana said, with that penetrating motherly look.
When the boys got home from school, both parties had rethought their positions and there was a wonderful peace accord struck, which was sealed with some hugs.
"I'm sorry, boys. I was trying to be helpful this morning and I sometimes forget that you're maturing very quickly."
Dana had realized that she was smothering them and treating them like young boys, which they were not. She realized that she needed to back away a bit and let them work things out themselves, which they were becoming very adept at.
"We're sorry, too. We kinda flew off the handle," Sean said.
Unfortunately, Trudy was becoming a frequent topic in our household and not for the right reasons.
"What a joke", Jake said, as the boys came in the door after school a couple of weeks later.
"She hasn't a clue", Sean added.
As usual they were talking about their 'favourite' accounting teacher, as they had been most nights when they got home from school since Trudy had taken over after the Thanksgiving holiday. They seemed to be handling Trudy well and they were not letting her badger them, as she had done when they were in Grade 9.
They didn't realize that I heard their comment as I was in the den and I surprised them when I came out of the room and asked "What did Ms. Rayner do now, boys?"
"Nothing, really," Sean said, with some reluctance.
"We were just talking about the test we got back today," Jake said, as I noticed Sean give him a look.
"What does that have to do with her not having a clue?" I asked, now curious as to what was going on.
There was a pause as the two of them looked at each other and finally Jake said, "We were just talking about our marks."
We had now made our way into the kitchen together and Dana was now part of the conversation.
"Well, do we have to guess how well you two did, or are you going to let us in on the secret?" she asked.
"We both got 100 again," Sean said.
This was their second test with Trudy and once again they had got perfect results. Naturally we congratulated them and I asked to see the tests, since I was still suspicious that we had not heard the whole story. The probability of Sean getting two perfect tests was quite realistic, since he was absorbing the material like a sponge, but Jake was not on his level in the subject, from what I had observed. They both reluctantly pulled them out of their bags and gave them to me.
The test questions on each test were identical, even though they were in different classes, which didn't surprise me, since she was lazy. However, I was surprised when I realized that the test was mine that I had left in the file cabinet as a reference for anyone teaching the course after I had retired. She hadn't even bothered to change a thing to make it uniquely hers.
"I'm glad to see you two have good memories," I said, sarcastically.
Dana didn't quite know what was going on, so I explained.
"This is the exact same test that I left in the file cabinet at school when I retired and the same 'practice' test the boys did the night before. And, I suspect the first test they took a week ago was mine as well, which they also saw the night before they wrote it."
By now the boys were squirming a little.
"Boys, why didn't you tell us last time?" Dana asked.
They didn't respond, but had sheepish looks.
"That's academic dishonesty and I'm surprised and disappointed with you two." I said.
I came on a little strongly and I should've known better, because that was like waving a red flag in front of Jake and he immediately started to defend their position.
"We didn't cheat, or sneak a copy out of her file cabinet. It was her fault that she was lazy."
He then went on to tell us that they didn't need to do the practice test, because they could've got a copy from Charles who had a copy from Ronald, which was the same when he was in her class last year.
"And besides, we didn't know she would use the same test again," Sean said.
Dana stepped in as a peace maker and sided with the boys.
"They're right, Al. She was lazy and unprofessional and really the boys didn't do anything wrong. But now that we know, your dad will have to make up a new practice test next time," She said, with her no more discussion look.
As much as Trudy was an unwelcome topic of discussion many nights at the dinner table, the theatre production was quickly taking over as the main focus in our household.
Things were moving along very quickly and the boys were consumed with the preparations and rehearsals. It was great to see them so involved and learning so much about theatre, performance and how to work productively in such a large group of people.
Dana and I were there most nights and watched some of the rehearsals taking place. I had all my materials prepared for the front of the house displays, except the cast pictures. They were being taken by my brother-in-law, David Sloan, Lorraine's brother, who was an amateur photographer.
"It took a bit of work to get Sean to lighten up and smile," David said, after the photo shoot.
"He's not too wild about getting his picture taken," I said.
"I certainly didn't have that trouble with Jake and Garth," he said, as he chuckled.
I decided to stay at one of the last rehearsals before opening night. I had a chance to talk to Mark Depew, who was also staying to see how things were progressing with the play and how the kids from the shelter were working out. There were four kids from Sean and Jake's Place that were working in the production, two as stage hands and two that were with the lighting crew.
"Vikram Patel and Jenny Lau have really learned a lot working with the lighting guy. They can't wait to get to practice each night, after they've done their homework," Mark said.
The two of them were particularly lucky to be working with a professional lighting contractor who had volunteered to work on the production. He had just married a girl from town and they had settled in the area. She was singing in the production and he wasn't out on the road at the moment so he volunteered. The producers and Erin were ecstatic when they heard the news. He had just come off tour with the Canadian singing superstar, Michael Bublé and his schedule was free for the next month.
"Jenny, in particular, has been a great help to him. She has some computer smarts and he showed her how to program the lighting computer. I guess it's a pretty daunting task to get the hundreds of lighting cues programmed," Mark said.
"I'm glad we were able to secure some youth training grant money to pay for their mini school bus that brings them up here and back to the shelter," I said.
Mark filled me in on the kids' lives and why they used the shelter.
"Vikram's family is very proud and won't admit they're struggling to make ends meet. He arrives at school many days without having anything to eat," Mark said.
He told me that Vikram dropped in frequently in the evening and they gave him something to eat. Since he had been involved in the theatre production, he checked in at home and came to the shelter to do his homework and then get the minibus to the theatre.
"A lot of the time, the staff put out some food for the four kids, but that doesn't always happen," Mark said.
He also said that Jenny and the other two boys, Vince and Habib weren't much better off.
"This is a very positive experience in their lives and it has also given us more opportunity to dialogue with the families and set up more interventions," he said.
Just then Jake and Sean came from backstage to ask me something.
"Can we have the keys to the car to go get some pizza for the kids?" Sean asked.
I didn't need to ask why and I gave them the keys and some money.
"I think we should send them up to the theatre each night with some pizzas or subs. That way we're sure they've eaten. I'm sure we can find some money to do that," I said, as Mark gave me a big smile.
I also had another idea that I wanted to roll by Mark.
"Carol is investigating some federal youth training grants that could provide some part-time work for these kids and some others at the shelter," I said.
I told him that my partners in the Tim Hortons franchises were quite willing to take some of the kids from the shelter and give them some work experience and a chance to earn some money to help out with their living situations.
"We apparently can get enough money to cover their transportation and subsidize part of their wages. It would be limited to 10 hours per week and wouldn't interfere with their homework, but it would be a very positive event in their lives," I said.
I didn't need to say anymore, as I knew that Mark would get to work making this happen.
Things were moving along quickly towards the opening night and everyone was settling into the jobs they were responsible for. Glen was turning out to be a valuable behind the scenes person with the show, as he was the assistant sound technician. Also, his help with designing the sets was invaluable to the man who was head of the design team. He was an art teacher in a school in a neighbouring board and he had a good artistic sense, but not a practical one with how the design could be implemented by an amateur set crew.
Glen had a lot of technical sense and a good grasp of the techniques of building, which came from the contractors that did the renovation on their loft. He had learned a lot from them, which he was able to put to good use to give the crew the ideas on how to build what he designed. However, he had been looking at clips of 'Oliver' on the web for ideas and he saw that one of the productions used a revolving stage. He really thought that was cool and put something together on his computer for Erin to consider.
"Glen is quite a persuasive young man when he wants to be," Erin said, when we standing together waiting for people to arrive for the dress rehearsal.
She told me that he passionately pitched the design to her and that he was sure the building crew could handle it with his help.
"The producers loved the idea, but they weren't too happy with the amount of money that initially we thought it would cost," she said.
That's where Melissa's father, Gary, who owned an engineering firm, came in. Sean was telling Melissa about Glen's design one night when they were talking on Skype and that the producers were balking at the cost to get some engineering plans drawn up based on Glen's design. Melissa mentioned it to Gary and the next thing we knew he emailed Glen and asked for the design specs. Two days later he sent a set of engineering drawings and specs to Glen and said he could get the materials at cost, which made it affordable. It was lending a very professional touch to the production.
Dana decided to do Garth and Derek's makeup, which some of the other makeup people were quite thankful for. The two boys took double the time of any of the other cast and they were so much alike with their nervous energy.
"Garth, honey, I know you're nervous, but try to sit still for a couple of minutes, otherwise Oliver will have a very crooked moustache which shouldn't be there," Dana said, as she was trying to put on Garth's makeup before the dress rehearsal.
Mandy was also in the production as one of the dancers. Ms. Pauline from the summer theatre program was the choreographer and as was typical in the fall productions, the producers and director, tried to get as many young kids involved in the show. This was good from a future casting point of view, but also from a box office perspective, as well. The younger kids drew many parents and grandparents to the productions.
Mandy, despite her age, was one of the better dancers in the company. Erin had given Ms. Pauline free reign to put together a few dance numbers to showcase the dancers. Mandy was front and centre in a couple of them and she was having a lot of fun. Garth and Derek also liked having her in the cast and they hung around together when it wasn't their turn on stage.
Ms. Pauline also had the task of getting the actors to dance and move properly across the stage. It was quite an undertaking with some of the actors and there were some surprises.
"Master Ronald has a grace that's unusual for someone so tall," she said, with her proper British accent.
"If you could see him on the basketball court you'd know why he can move like that," I said.
"Your boys are very graceful also and they are moving quite well," Ms. Pauline said. "And of course, there's Garth. It is unusual in a boy that age to have all the tools needed to be in show business. His future is very bright if he stays at it."
Stéphane was also a surprise, but not in a good way.
"Dancing's not my thing," he said, as he laughed during a break, when I asked him how the choreography was going. "It's a good thing I can sing, or they'd be kicking me out of the production."
The Orchestra was under the direction of Ross Weir, who was the music coordinator for the Board of Education. Ross had been involved in music all his life and had played in one of the most successful rock bands in the area in the 60s. Ross had a lot of experience conducting and he was a natural choice to lead the orchestra. He had started a jazz band program many years ago that took the elite high school players from the region and played in festivals around Ontario. They had won many awards and the program had grown into three different bands, encompassing some 50 kids.
The players in the orchestra were a mix of adults and kids from the jazz band, as well as some from the strings program. Charles had decided not to be in the chorus and he joined the orchestra to be with Sandy, his father's partner. Sandy was an accomplished violist and she switched to the violin and let Charles play his viola.
"They only needed one viola and it's good training for Charles. He's coming along," she said, as she smiled at him during one of the breaks.
"It helps to have an expert beside me," he said, as he returned the smile.
Both Dana and I were very pleased at the dynamic between Sandy and Charles and this was certainly a different relationship than the dysfunctional one he had with his real mother. She and Mark had provided a lot of stability for Charles, who had developed into a more confident teenager.
The goal with the dress rehearsal was to get through the production with as little interruption as possible. Garth and the other boy playing Oliver each got a turn at singing 'Where Is Love' and 'Who Will Buy'. The other parts of the play they were sharing, rather than play those scenes twice. Erin knew that it would be a long night without doubling up everything.
As with any dress rehearsal things always went wrong, but this was the last chance to correct things before the live show.
"Let's stop here for a couple of minutes, folks," Erin called out after one of the scenes where Garth had a lot of lines.
All through the scene the prompter in the pit was going crazy with Garth's dialogue.
"Garth, I don't recall the line 'Please mister can I have some more pudding'," Erin said.
He was wound up and when he couldn't remember his lines, he did what he was famous for and he improvised. She took him aside and explained that he had to calm down and concentrate on what was written.
"People are depending upon you delivering your lines like Mr. Bart, the playwright, wrote them."
He had also missed some cues as to where he was to be on stage, which caused problems for the kids running the spotlights. After the first Scene, I could see Sean and Jake quietly leading him to the correct spots on stage.
They weren't the only ones doing that function, as the older kids in the chorus had been assigned a group of the younger ones and they platooned them around the stage according to the directorial plan. The most humorous group was the one that Ronald had. It was funny to watch the five little kids follow his six foot three inch frame around the stage. It looked like a bunch of baby ducks following their mother.
The dress rehearsal ended at 12:30 in the morning. Everyone, including the adults were tired, but things had gone reasonably well. Garth finally settled down and the second act went much better. Sean and Jake did a great job on 'Consider Yourself', which had been re-written for the play so Sean could have a feature singing part along with Jake. Both boys did a great job of acting, which is what their parts demanded. Jake's voice, while not really being showcased in this type of singing, came through as being very polished.
"I think we should get your autographs, before you boys become famous," Dana said with a smile, as we were driving home from the rehearsal.
The boys were so tired, that they gave a very weak smile, as they dropped off to sleep in the back seat.
The next morning the boys dragged themselves out of bed and off to school. Thank goodness, the opening night wasn't until Friday and since it was Thursday they had some time to recharge and get ready after they got home from School.
While we were waiting for them to get home that night, I got a call from Graham Barton, the Head of Business at the school.
"Hello, Al. I hope things are going well," he said.
We exchanged pleasantries and briefly got caught up on some of the new happenings around the Board.
"I'm glad we're able to get caught up on things, but somehow I don't think this is a social call," I said.
"I thought I'd let Sean know before he got to school tomorrow, that the incident with Ms. Rayner has been resolved and I've given him the marks for the question that was in dispute," he said.
Before I could delve into the details with him, the boys came into the kitchen as they got home from school. I let Sean take the phone and listened as he and Graham talked. Sean was smiling and quite happy when the conversation was finished. Dana had now joined us and we were both curious as to what was going on.
"Ms. Rayner tried to cheat me out of some marks on a question, but she had the wrong answer," he said.
He was now engrossed in his after school snack and wasn't forthcoming with anymore details.
"When you're finished wolfing down your snack, maybe you could let us in on some of the details, Son," Dana said.
Jake had finished and he was his usual chatty self.
"You should have seen it. She was arguing with Sean that she was right and he was wrong. Bulldog showed up and she got really angry."
He told us that his class was coming into the room for the next period and Sean and Trudy were having a heated discussion at the front of the room. Sean was cool and calm, but Trudy's face was bright red as she was trying to bully him.
"I showed her in the textbook why my answer was correct and she just ignored it and started to say that I was just doing this because I knew you'd back me up. I told her you weren't going to have anything to do with this and she'd have to deal with me."
"She really got mad when Sean told her he was going to the head of the department," Jake added.
"I hope you were respectful and didn't use any of your hockey language," Dana said.
He smiled and said, "Of course not. That would've got me in trouble."
"She was so upset after Sean left that she gave us a spare for most of the period, while she went to the washroom," Jake added.
I was glad that the problem had been resolved and that I didn't have to get involved, but at the same time I was very unhappy that the boys were having to put up with Trudy. I was confident that they were old enough now to stand up for themselves and that they were getting better at being assertive when it was called for. I was also hoping that there would be no more incidents and that they could finish the semester in peace, but somehow, I knew that wasn't going to be possible.
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