*Smile More*

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It is a rare occurrence when Rusty asks for something. His is my laid back, easy going, go-with-the flow kid. Happy with whatever is given to him, he rarely asks for anything special, so when he approached us with a special birthday request we perked up with curiosity.

His request was a surprise for many reasons. Like I said, he doesn’t typically make special requests. There is also the matter of the fact his birthday is still months away. The real surprise, however, was the request itself. He asked if he could receive his 15th birthday gift early. My first thought was, ‘Well that would actually be very convenient,’ since we will be traveling on his birthday and I was already trying to figure out where in the bus to stow away party supplies and birthday gifts.

We asked what he had in mind and he told us. There is a YouTube vlogger he likes to watch by the name of Roman Atwood. His videos center around his daily life, but what he is best known for is his prank videos. You may remember one of his videos that circled around Facebook a year ago in which he filled his home with ball pit balls. His tagline is “Smile More” and Rusty really enjoys his videos.

 Rusty found out that he was coming to Pittsburgh in a show entitled Roman vs Fousey, and he really wanted to go. After looking into it we decided that Toby, Rusty and I would go together and make it his early birthday gift.

Rusty was beside himself with excitement and in the days leading up to the show he decorated a t-shirt to wear to the event. He was attending as a supporter of Team Roman in this Roman vs Fousey event.

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The show was held at the Byham theatre in downtown Pittsburgh.

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When we arrived there was already a line wrapped around the building as fans waited to get in. I had no idea it was going to be such a popular show!

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Most of the crowd was made up of 10-16 year old boys and their parents. We went in and found our seats. It was a fun treat to be so close to the stage.  We took a few photos before the show began knowing that we wouldn’t be able to take pictures during the show.

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The show was basically a showdown between two popular YouTube stars that also happen to be friends: Roman and Fousey. Roman is known for his “Smile More” prank videos while Fousey tends to do more social experiment videos. Grace really enjoys Fousey’s videos and was a bit jealous that Rusty was getting to see him live.

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For the show the two YouTubers would pick random challenges to compete in (all silly) and the winner (based on audience applause would earn points.) Mixed into the challenges were moments of reflection where the two vloggers would share some of their personal stories and encourage their fans. The prevailing themes were loving yourself, spreading kindness, chasing your dreams and making a positive difference in the world.

Like Rusty, the majority of the crowd was there to cheer on Roman so in the end he was the winner. Rusty loved it and I loved sitting back and watching him while he watched the show. It was fun to see him so excited.

At the end of the show Toby let him pick out a t-shirt souvenir from the show as the icing on the cake to this ultimate birthday gift. It was fun having this rare one on one time with Rusty and I think it was fun for him to have an evening of Mom and Dad’s undivided attention.

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The following morning Rusty brought the computer into my room eager to show me the footage of the previous night’s show on Roman’s vlog. As the camera scanned the audience Rusty could be seen wearing his white fedora…an intentional, calculated fashion choice knowing audience footage would appear of the vlog and wanting to be able to find himself in the crowd.

Oh, how I love that big boy of mine. I love watching my kids delight in their own interest and fandoms even when I don’t always understand the appeal myself. It is part of the fun journey towards seeing who they are growing up to be, and I am so grateful I got to be part of this stop along that road.

 

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