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Letter From America: You're A Good Man, Jocey Kleinman

Jocey Kleinman spotted that something was wrong when she went to see her brother play the lead in "You're A Good Man Charlie Brown''. The four-year-old longed to set matters to rights, but she was also aware of the the best possible reason why she should not interfere. Ronnie Bray draws an inspiring message from a small incident at a school play.

For more of Ronnie's upbeat columns click on Letter From America in the menu on this page. Read also episodes from his life story, A Shout From The Attic.

I know just what it was the troubled Jocey Kleinman, although I can’t say that I took much notice of it. But when you are a four-year old precocity everything has to be right or else it is wrong and must be fixed.

Jocey had gone with her mother and her sisters Kaitlyn and Emily, to see her brother, Ryan, play the lead in "You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown'', at Red Mountain High School, Mesa, where Ryan is a student. Six enthusiastic and talented high scholars played the parts, and three equally talented high school musicians provided the music for the popular show. Gay and I had seen the show the night before when Jocey’s daddy, Mark, and sister, Lindsey, attended.

The set was good, schematic with just the right cartoonic look, that did not intrude too much into the real world so as to lose the magic that the production contains. Two of the major props were a huge doghouse that Snoopy uses as a personal stage for certain numbers, and an equally huge American mail box, complete with a red flag to tell the postman that you have letters for him to collect just in case he does not need to open your box to deliver mail.

It was the mailbox that troubled the wriggly tot. During the proceedings, as the characters were screaming across the stage, Jocey had an issue that she shared with her mother in a whisper about as loud as ordinary talking. "The mail box is open! It needs to be shut!" Mother Dee agreed that it should be, but was otherwise unconcerned. Those who know Jocey will understand that she could not let the matter rest there.

"The door is open and it should be closed!" Jocey does emphatic very well, and very emphatically. When Gay and I went to the show, I noted that the flap of the box hung down and the flag was up. Our little grandchild was right. She knew that if the flag was vertical, it means that mail is inside waiting to be collected. Anyone with any sense and not a few of those with little sense would know to close the door.

In terms of the production, it is a small matter. But in the world of a little girl it becomes a powerful indicator that something is not as it should be. You come across this phenomenon when you try to skip portions of a bedtime story your are reading to a tot who is less tired than you are. You stand to be corrected at every omitted or mispronounced word.

Again Jocey voiced her discomfort. "The door should be closed!" Some of us find that things not as they should be generate powerful emotions that cannot be quelled until the anomaly is righted and order restored. Jocey’s mother understood her daughter’s plaint, but how to satisfy it was another matter altogether. "I’ll tell you what you can do. You just walk down to the front and climb up the stairs and close the door." "I can’t do that," retorted the diminutive complainer. "It’s Ryan’s show!"

In deference to her brother, the flap remained irritatingly open throughout the show, and I shouldn’t wonder that it is incapable of being closed. Yet it is not hard to give credit to a little girl who relegated her own need when the fulfilment of it could have spoiled things for someone else. There is a lot of selfishness in the musical, "You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown'', and there is a lot of selfishness in life. But, just as in the show, in life there is also a good deal of altruism, and a goodly portion of that commodity was shown by Jocey, and so I say, "You’re A Good Man, Jocey Kleinman!" Charlie Brown would agree.

Copyright © 2006 Ronnie Bray


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