When An Oompa Falls

May 10, 2012 by

The goal was the role of Augustus.

By Augustus I do not mean Gaius Julius Caeser Augustus, also known as Octavian, the first Roman emperor, great-nephew of Julius Caeser and principal of the Pax Romana.

Not that the middle SON of Thunder shouldn’t set his sights on being the greatest and most successful emperor of the Roman Empire. But that just wasn’t the play this time.

No, I mean Augustus Gloop. A rotund German boy who won a golden ticket.

Although spelled the same, there is a slight difference in pronunciation.

Mr. Gloop is more of a AA-GOO-STUS; while the emperor is more like UH-GUS-TUS

Middle SON’s elementary school was putting on a play. And it was “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” The one starring Gene Wilder, not to be confused with the slightly more bizarre “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” starring Johnnie Depp.

As the day of tryouts came, we offered the normal parental advice of “doing your best,” “if it was meant to be it will happen,” “no matter what, you are a winner,” and so on and so forth.

Middle SON did not get the role of Augustus – the German kid, not the emperor.

He was to be an Oompa Loompa.

Considering the change in roles, Middle SON took it fairly well. He told me about the teacher’s obvious miscue decision when I got home from work. I asked if he was okay about it and he said he was, but let’s just all agree it wasn’t said in the most emphatic way.

And we talked a bit. And I said something along the lines that people look at your title, your position in life so to speak, but God looks at you. What is truly important is not the title someone gives you, but what you do with what you have.

And I pointed out that without the Oompa Loompas, whom most people would consider mere drones, and funny looking ones at that, there would be no Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

No Oompas, no chocolate.

And I pointed out that even Willie Wonka acknowledged that without the Oompas, his dreams would never happen. A great leader realizes who got him where he is and gives credit where it is do.

And I thought of that verse in 1 Corinthians – “But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part!  Yes, there are many parts, but only one body.  The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary.”

Every now and then I actually get it right.

And Middle SON nodded, smiled and went off to listen to the movie soundtrack.

He worked hard. Had his lines down and a couple of cool Oompa moves. He’d listen to the soundtrack at night while going to bed. He was determined to be the best Oompa that ever did the loompa.

And a week before the big day, he got sick.

Now Middle SON is one who saves up his “sickies.” By that I mean he doesn’t get sick often, but when he does, ugh. The last time happened about two years ago, and he spent 10 days in the hospital. For a while there, well, you can read about it here.

We did what we could, but this virus was going to run its course. Middle SON barely got off the bed, and only to move to the couch.

The big day arrived and the play went on – minus one Oompa Loompa.

Middle SON was not happy. He worked and practiced and it simply was not to be.

I tried to explain to him that life – and school plays – go on. There will be disappointments in life, missed opportunities. But the key is to learn from that, to move forward, to get back on track.

Life is not a straight road. There are a lot of curves. It’s what you do when those curves come that make you who you are, and will be.

“Thanks dad,” he said. “Can I go play with my iPod now?”

Yes, enough of the lesson.

He may never get the chance to play Augustus Gloop again – but there’s always that Roman emperor.






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