“And when we grow up, do you think we’ll see, that I’m still like you, and you’re still like me? I might be pretty, you might grow tall, but we don’t have to change at all.”
No, I didn’t have to play my record of Free to Be . . . You and Me on a gramophone, but I did wear grooves on the LP (I’m pretty sure my kids are unclear on the differences). And when I was in first grade, after I was already familiar with the album, I got to participate in our school production of the show. There are of course several parts that stand out for me, now some 35 years later. But the memory that makes for the best storytelling is that J.D. (the 6th grader on whom I had a crush) was in the same number as I was (well, along with a dozen other school kids). I’d like to think he played Christopher John to my Agatha Fry, but that would just be embellishing things. Nevertheless, as cell phones hadn’t yet been discovered (thus, nobody kept a camera with them at all times) and film was valued, the one and only picture with which I have to remember my first love comes from this stage production. Le sigh.
Have you noticed the posters around the studio?
I was so excited to see that Song of the Heart studio is doing a musical theater camp for one of its Summermuisk offerings! Hooray! Yet another generation of children will learn to treasure Marlo Thomas’ gift as I do. (Well, maybe only if there are cute boys in the play, too.) It runs from July 27-August 8 (just right about the time that summer has lost its newness), and anyone from 6-12 can join–no audition necessary! Register here: Free to Be. . . You and Me Musical Theater Camp
Like any other mom, when my kids were born I became eager to introduce them to the songs and stories of my own childhood. Free to Be. . . You and Me had been pushed aside for R.E.M. and the B-52’s in my teenage years, but it was one of my first CD acquisitions as a new mom. By then, Thomas had done a follow-up about families, too. So I got to give my kids a double dose of memories (love, love, love hearing Christopher Reeve narrate the story of Superman’s adoption).
But as a parent, listening to these songs and stories gave me a whole new love for what Ms. Thomas produced back in the early 70’s. If there is anything I want for my kids, it is that they be who they want to be. My journey as a mom has not been without its pitfalls. And my education as a parent certainly is far from complete. Nevertheless, I have learned to appreciate that it is our imperfections that make us beautiful. I have learned the most about this unconditional love by following my kids’ leads, and by loving myself as much as I love them. Everything about Free to Be. . . You and Me reinforces this message.
“There are a lot of things, a lot of mommies, and a lot of daddies, and a lot of parents can do. . .”
“It’s alright to cry. Crying takes the sad out of you.”
A person should wear what he wants to, and not just what other folks say. A person should do what she likes to, a person’s a person that way. (I found this especially helpful advice to bear in mind when my youngest wore the Dorothy costume every day to preschool for a month.)
“Of course you (are mixed up). Why should you be any different from anybody else? Most people spend their lives trying to get un-mixed up.”
“Glad to have a friend like you. And glad to just be me.”