Dayan’s Milestone Day

A year ago, when my daughter Elissa found out Dayan’s graduation day would be on May 19, which is his birthday, I had two thoughts: That will be an easy date to remember. And the next year will go by so fast. I was correct on both counts. I never once wondered what day graduation would be. And the year flew by. 

Dayan's Milestone Day

My grandson, my oldest grandchild, the boy who made me a grandmother and christened me with the name Yaya, reached this momentous day exactly on time actually. To his family, and especially his mother, it marked the completion of a year that was full of “lasts”. The last marching band performance, the last parade, the last competition and ceremony and award, the last time to walk to school, the last time to walk out of the Carl Junction High School, the last time to play the tuba that he has played for years. 

Dayan's Milestone DayOne year old Dayan, experiencing bubbles for the first time. Meme by Elissa. 

I thought about Dayan throughout this day, as he celebrated a birthday and prepared to graduate tonight, and the word “milestones” came to mind. A milestone is an event or action marking a significant change or stage in development. Dayan has had many of those mile markers in the last 18 years, signifiers of growth, times of deeper awareness, ahas that profoundly shaped his future. 

It has been my pleasure to walk alongside him as he has journeyed, and witness those times when a “stone” was placed at a significant juncture. I’ve watched him as an intelligent, kind, compassionate boy who always knew the right encouraging words to share with people. I saw him as a young teenager stepping up to fully occupy his unique Dayan shaped space, gaining confidence in who he was and what his gifts and abilities were. 

Dayan's Milestone Day                 Photo by Elissa

These past two years, the milestones became defining ones as Dayan could say “This is me…this is not me. This is what I want to do…this is what I don’t want to do. This is the path I am choosing for my life…this is not the path for me…” with a surety that so inspired me. Along with common milestones like getting his driver’s license and a job, he had major shifts as he decided on a future career in politics and selected University of Missouri as the college he would attend this fall. 

It is not a coincidence that Dayan experienced two momentous milestones on the same day. He turned 18 years old today and graduated from high school. Both signify leaving childhood behind and entering adulthood, dual doors closing and opening at the same time as a new adventure beckons. 

Dayan's Milestone Day
Dayan's Milestone DayDayan, Elissa and Josh

This evening it was with great joy, and a host of other emotions, that I watched my grandson walk across the stage to receive his diploma. Family members surrounded me. We beamed and cheered and perhaps shed a few tears that this milestone had been reached. This boy has become a man. This child has reached the point of spreading his wings to see just how high and how far he can fly. 

I am proud of this incredible young man. I am proud of my daughter, who has been an extraordinary momma to her son, fierce in her love and devotion to him, never failing to seek the best for her child and encouraging him to be all that he could be. And I am proud of my son-in-law, who came into Dayan’s life as a stepdad, but who has parented him with an open and generous heart. 

Dayan's Milestone Day
Dayan's Milestone Day
When he was a toddler, Dayan and I began an ongoing series of stories that we affectionately called “The Continuing Adventures of Dayan and Yaya”. Those were fun and imaginative stories that we created. However, we have had many, many real life adventures, this boy and I. Spending time together, Dayan has helped me to see the world differently. He has helped me to see myself differently. He allows me to be fully myself. We laugh. We learn new things. We go places. 

We have a big adventure coming up, a trip to Italy that Elissa is joining us on. And then soon, Dayan will set off on adventures of his own, going places I will not go, seeing things I will not see. Milestones stretch behind us, a map of times we’ve celebrated and events we’ve shared. The road stretches onward, full of possibilities and opportunities. There are exciting times ahead for him that he will memorialize, saying “Here…this time, this place, is important in my life.” 

No matter where he is, no matter where I am…I’ll pause to celebrate those future achievements and milestones with him, whether in person or in my heart. 

Happy birthday Dayan. Happy graduation day. Happy first day of the rest of your amazing life. Go forth. Be you. Be Light in the world. I love you!

Dayan's Milestone Day   Photo and composition by Elissa

High School Musical: Xanadu

I’ve been attending Carl Junction High School’s plays and musicals for 3 1/2 years, catching the fall and spring performances with grandson Dayan and daughter Elissa. Tonight I was excited about the premiere of Xanadu, a musical I have never seen. 

You know it’s going to be a great show when there is a disco ball as a prop! 

Xanadu is a musical comedy based off of the 1980 Universal Pictures film by the same name. Music and lyrics are by Jeff Lynne and John Farrar. The production is performed in two acts and features 15 musical numbers. 

The Carl Junction High School cast included Brett Boline, Katie Martinez, Cade Hensley, Megan Ritchins, Sophia Day, Darian Wilson, Gracie Jackson, Katherine Austin, Lindsey Ritchie and Xander Eck. 

Set in Venice, California, in 1980, Xanadu is the story of a young chalk artist, Sonny Malone (Boline), who isn’t pleased with his rendition of the Muses. As he is contemplating ending his life, the muses step out of the drawing, and the youngest of the sisters, Clio (Martinez) determines to save the young man and inspire him to pursue his creative dreams. 

Zeus insists that his daughters appear to humans in disguise, so Clio approaches Sonny as an Australian sporting roller skates and leg warmers, and using the more modern name of Kira. 

The oldest sister/muse Melpomene (Richins) is jealous that the youngest of them leads the muses. With the help of another sister, Calliope (Day), she plots Kira’s downfall by cursing her to fall in love with the mortal Sonny, which will invoke the wrath of Zeus. 

Inspired by Kira, Sonny decides to combine all the arts and “something athletic” into one spectacular entertainment…a roller disco. He finds a derelict abandoned theater, called the Xanadu, that is perfect for his dream. Now he must convince the owner, a middle aged real eastate mogul named Danny Maguire (Hensley), to allow him to use the theater. 

As a young man with big creative dreams of his own, Danny was also inspired by a woman who looked very much like Kira. He gives Sonny one day to transform the old theater, which was built years ago by Danny as he pursued his dream, and create the roller disco. 

Can Sonny do the impossible, to make his dream a reality? And will the curse work, causing Kira to fall in love and incur punishment from her father? And will all the cast members zipping around on roller skates stay on their feet?!

This was an amazing production…clever, funny, and touching, performed by an extremely talented group of teens. Brett Boline and Katie Martinez were enchanting in the title roles. And Miss Martinez has a beautiful voice. I’ve watched her sing and act her way through a variety of productions over the years and she never fails to wow me. 

Megan Richins and Sophia Day were outstanding as the bad girls of the musical, and hands down drew the most laughs with their expressive performances. Both girls have incredible voices and great comedic timing and delivery. 

The rest of the performers were excellent as well. There wasn’t a weak cast member in the group. Which meant, I smiled appreciatively throughout this musical, with frequent outbursts of laughter and the offering of enthusiastic applause. 

And in spite of dance routines and delivering lines both spoken and sung, not one cast member on skates teetered or toppled. I was impressed, as was the audience. They came to their feet in a standing ovation at the end. 

I enjoyed the evening. Elissa and I decided that  next year, even after Dayan leaves for college, we will continue to attend Carl Junction’s prodctions. Because is there anything more fresh and entertaining than a well done high school musical? I don’t think so!