Posts Tagged ‘drama’

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Drama on the Home Front

October 22, 2012

In some ways, I feel like I would have used this as a post title in the past.  I know I’ve used similar.

The nutshell:  In elementary/middle school (my girls were in a K-8 school), my kids were in plays.  And they were successful.  They had lead roles.  Because they enjoyed it and did well, I decided that it would be the way I gave back to the school.  So in my last year of law school, I offered to be a “parent volunteer coordinator.”  By the end of that year, I was a producer.

One of the best experiences of my life.

And I did that, and got to know kids and parents and processes.   I felt like what I learned as a producer informed my experiences as a lawyer.  I learned how to deal with people, how to deal with my own failings, how to rein myself in, how to deal with people, how to convince people to do things they *really* didn’t want to do.

And my girls kept thriving.  They got great roles, they enjoyed the social aspect, they had self-confidence.

Then Emma got to the high school and … well.  They didn’t cast her in any shows.  She did other things, she was resilient.  her sister – still back in the K-8 school – kept getting lead roles.

Then it was Juliette’s turn to go to the high school.  She ended her 8th grade year as the lead in Anything Goes, and she was strong in that role.

I was worried.   It might be bad to admit that I was worried that after Em was rejected for 2 years that Jules would get in to the show, and Em would feel deflated.  Now, Emma has been just — amazing.  She hasn’t been shattered by the decisions not to let her in.  She’s shrugged and said, “I just wasn’t a good fit.”  Last year, she was sad. But she spent the summer doing different acting things, and she has been really strong with crew, and she’s been fine.

But as auditions came up, it was clear that Emma wanted in.  Juliette also wanted in, but after having seen her sister struggle to get in for 2 years, she wasn’t so confident.  She was looking at the Freshman Play as her better chance.

I was really unhappy that auditions took place during my week of travel.  I stayed in touch via phone and text, but I hated being gone.  With auditions on top of sports, the girls were out of the house until 8 and 8:30 p.m., and then got home to eat dinner and do homework.  One one of the audition days, David told me that J was up until 12:30, and E until 2 a.m.

After Freshman Play auditions, J found out pretty quickly that she got a callback.  She was so very excited, and really energized.

A couple days after musical auditions, both girls found out they did NOT get call backs.  Jules wasn’t too surprised, Emma was looking at the bright side (“now I can focus on crew!”).  Emma also said, “well, the policy is that no callback doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get a part.”  But I said that to her last year when she didn’t get a call back, and she told me I didn’t know what I was talking about.  (Hmpf.)

Then Jules went to the Freshman play callback, and felt like it went really well.

I got home Friday night, and Jules was a ball of nerves starting then and through the weekend.  “What if I don’t get in?  I really want to do the play! What if I don’t get in?  I might not get in.”

I was encouraging.  Reminded her of her past successes.  Told her I really thought she’d get in.

Monday rolled around.

Mouse didn’t get in.  She texted me, and said she was really sad.  Friends of hers did get in, and she didn’t, and the musical callbacks were the following day, and everyone was a buzz, and she had nothing.

When we were all home that evening, she just dissolved.  She cried (she doesn’t do that so often).  She was very, very sad.  I gave her hugs and let her sit on my lap (which is hard, considering I’m 5’6″ and she’s 5’8.5″).  I wiped her tears, and held my tongue when I thought things like, “it’s good to learn how to do deal with disappointment.” and “well, we still really don’t know about the musical.”  I just let her cry and told her I knew that she was very, very sad.

That was Monday night.

Tuesday a.m., she had the puffiest eyes in the world.  She went to school, still a little glum.

I started to get nervous on Wednesday because she was still glum, even a little snippy.  I didn’t want to see her get into a funk.  We started talking about her doing Volleyball on a private “club” team this winter, since she didn’t have a sport or drama.  She was game, and I thought we’d be okay.

Thursday was my big arbitration, as I mentioned.  I debriefed with colleagues, and made my way to the T station with a friend.  As I was descending the escalator at 6:15, my phone rang.  It was Emma.  She never calls, always texts.  A friend of mine recently told me that HER daughter was crossing the street and got HIT BY A CAR.  So I freaked out.  I answered the phone with “are you okay?!”  First there was nothing on the other end.  Then some yelling.  I got even more nervous, and said again, “are you okay??”  My friend was getting nervous.

“O MY GOD, MOM! THE CAST LIST IS UP AND ALKJKLJHOUWINBEOJN”

“Wait, Emma, what?!?”

“The cast list!  For the musical!  It’s up, and Juliette and I are BOTH ON IT!!!”

I then came back with “ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?” and then had to give my friend a thumb’s up, and she was very nervous that my daughter was dying or something.

So I asked Em if she knew if Jules knew, and she said no – Jules was at Volleyball. It was 6:35 then, and we thought Juliette was a volleyball practice, there at the school.  So Emma decided to stay at the school and be there when volleyball ended so she could be the one to tell her sister the news.

I went underground, and chatted with my friend, grinning like mad.  This was such great news for my girls.  It was so great for Em, after years of trying and being told no, and it was great for Jules to be so happy and so rewarded after such a low thinking she hadn’t made either show.

I got back above ground at 6:50, and my phone INSTANTLY rang.

“MOMMYMOMMYMOMMYMOMMY!!!”  It was Jules. But it wasn’t 7, so I didn’t know if Em had gone into the practice and interrupted, or what?

No.  Jules was at an away game.  Poor Emma was sitting there outside the gym waiting and doing her homework on the floor for NO REASON.  Juliette was on the bus, and a friend texted and told her “The cast list is out!  You are on it!”  And she [again] cried with happiness.  Then she called me.

I ended up texting Em to tell her that J found out.  She knew already, but asked, “please don’t tell Davey?”  So I quick texted David and said, “can you please play dumb with Emma?”  Because OF COURSE I told him the moment I found out!  But she was bummed that she missed telling her sister.

So I got home that night to 2 girls that were just exploding with happiness, and me on a huge high after the positive arbitration, and . . . wow.

Such a happy house.

 

 

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Never Easy Anymore

October 25, 2011

When the Ex and I divorced, I carefully planned our holiday schedule.  I would have Christmas during odd years, Thanksgiving during even.  This was important to me, because around the same time our divorce agreement was being finalized, my sister and her (horrible, pathetic, wretched person of an) Ex were separating.  We were craftily finding a way that we could still spend holidays together, with our kids.

[In my opinion, our joint divorces are 1000% a testament to the sheltered upbringing and college educations that we both had. There was no reason for either of us to get married at 21 or younger, and no reason for either of us to have children half a second after that.  But, whatever, moving on … ]

This year, for the second time in three years, my Ex is forcing a reschedule of that carefully laid plan.

The first time was when his first child with his new wife was born, in 2009, the last time he was supposed to have our girls for Christmas.  The baby was due on 12/27 – or something like that – and it just felt too close for comfort for him. (Understandably – if his wife went into labor in one small city while the girls were due to land in another smallish city an hour away, it would have been very hard for him.  As it turned out, the baby was born 3 weeks early, and there was no conflict.  That wasn’t foreseeable.). It was fine with me, because I’m always thrilled to have my kids around.  He wasn’t able to swing Thanksgiving instead that year, because of ticket costs, so I just had Lemon and Mouse for all of the holidays that year.

Last year, Thanksgiving was his, and the girls went as planned.

This year, he had them for April vacation.  But then Lemon had a conflict.  He was quicker to accommodate than I anticipated, and it went okay. I got some me-time in, and my car got some additional miles.

Then this past summer — it was also a bit odd.  First, he said they shouldn’t go there, he would come here. Then he couldn’t come here, so he wanted them to go there.  But we’d already made plans to keep them busy because he said they shouldn’t go there, so it was tough.  But, again and as usual, we worked it out.

This coming winter, the schedule again says it’s his turn to have them for Christmas.  But in the universe of My Ex Is a Weirdo, his kids are in Turkey (not the part that was just devastated by an earthquake), even though he and his wife are in the Middle of THIS Country.  His son (who will be 2 this December) has actually been there since April.  His daughter since May (she was 3 months old when she left the U.S.).  The Ex left Turkey in June, and his wife left in September (or August?).  So . . . he really hasn’t seen his baby girl since she was 4 months old. Hasn’t seen either of his babies since June (maybe July?).

I do not understand.

But he and his wife want to go visit them (the babies are staying with his wife’s family; his wife is finishing her dissertation in the MIddle of THIS Country, where the Ex works). They plan to visit at Christmas-time, which I suppose makes a lot of sense, since the Ex and his wife are currently operating in line with a college academic calendar.

Therefore, he cannot (will not) have a visit with Lemon and Mouse at Christmas.

Again.

This time, we figured it all out in time for reasonable Thanksgiving airfare prices. Very reasonable. But his budget is so-very taxed (as one is wont to be when flying across the Atlantic  several times a year . . . visiting Europe and the Middle East) and so he could not afford 50% of tickets that kept the girls from missing meaningful school time.

We went back and forth several times about the best travel time.  I balked when he suggested they fly on Thanksgiving Day.  Really?  What kind of holiday is that?  He pushed back, insisted I ask the girls.  I was again pretty appalled when they just shrugged . . . but shrug they did.  So the tickets were bought.  Thursday to Monday.  They would miss school on Monday.

So we said in September.

Since then, Mouse got the lead in her play. Lemon’s dream-team was going to be missed. And the trip has seemed a burden to both girls.  WD and I looked into a repeat of our amazing Thanksgiving of a year ago, but the timing was too tight, and prices were too high, and things just too tense. So we can’t do anything with the time, except to stay home and – well – breathe (not such a bad thing, when you stop & think about it).

But it recently became clear that the Monday that Mouse was going to miss was a crucial day for her play rehearsals.  The play is soon after Thanksgiving, and the dress rehearsals start right after Thanksgiving.

I said too bad.  It’s the only day she’s missing, it will need to be fine.

She was miserable over it.

So I tried to swap some rehearsals around — we have two casts, because so many kids are involved in our shows (everyone who wants to participate gets a part … this is elementary/middle school, after all), and so I checked with her  counterpart, after talking to the director, to see if a switch was feasible.

It was not.

I said too bad again.  Mouse remained miserable.  I told her it was up to her to raise it with her father – and she did.  She wrote him a very kind, loving email, asking if the tickets could please be changed.

Once again, he’s being relatively accommodating.  Of course, it’s after I offered to pay the full change fee (stupidly).  But we still don’t know if it’s something I can even swing.

Maybe he’s being accommodating because in the same email that he discussed his semi-flexibility for Thanksgiving, he also discussed his already-changing plans for the summer.  Probably reducing the girls’ time there to 1-2 weeks, rather than the 3-4 that we worked out.

It’s just getting harder and harder to make this work across state lines.  And the distance that geography has brought* makes the relationships harder to prioritize.  Not by me – not at all – but by him and by the girls. I wonder, also, how much their relationships with him are treated as a lesser priority now that he has more children that are shared with a person he is actually married to.

* I maintain that his personality brings more distance than geography. But that’s just the ex in me talking . . . or not.

 

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Disappointment, for a Fifteen Year Old

October 7, 2011

My poor daughter has had an avalanche of bad news.

1)  No call back for the musical.  After all of her prep, hours of practice, a financial contribution by me, and her feelings that the audition went very well, hers was one of the very few names NOT on the call back list.  As I said before, she’s dealt with rejection at the higher competition of the high school, and she’s dealt with it with grace and dignity.  This time, however, in combination with nos. 2 and 3 below, she was in tears.

2)  As I may have said before, she is a huge fan of Team Star Kid, a fun & irreverent drama troupe comprised of college age kids (at least initially) who she discovered through their creation A Very Potter Musical.  They have also done other shows.  Ones that she knows I will never watch with her.

Well, a couple weeks ago, she found out that Team Star Kid was going to be going on tour.  From a fun little teaser that they put together, it was pretty clear that Boston was a possible city.  Her adoration for this group goes well beyond its most famous celebrity, Darren Criss, and may be equally as large for the young woman who plays Draco Malfoy in the show, Lauren Lopez.

Lemon was ecstatic.  I still support this fan craze fully, as I think these kids are pretty cool.  I’d be thrilled if Lemon did with her love of theater what they are doing with theirs.  Fun, witty, creative, entrepreneurial.  I think it’s amazing.

I was excited for her, and told her, sure, I’ll help her get tickets.

On Wednesday night – the same night that we were waiting for the call-back list with baited breath – she was refreshing her computer every 3 seconds to find out when the concert would be in Boston.

We went for a walk to check the call back list at 8 p.m. (she wanted to wait until morning, but had to give her crew team notice if she was going to miss practice)  The list wasn’t up, and we had reason to believe that it would not be posted until the morning. So we went back home.

She refreshed the screen again.

Boston on November 25th.  The Friday after Thanksgiving.

A few weeks ago, her father asked me if we could switch holidays this year … if the girls could go visit him over Thanksgiving instead of Christmas, so he would be free to go visit his babies (who are living in another country with his in laws for the year — yes, without their parents).  Lemon and Mouse both rolled their eyes and said, “Fine, whatever.”

They’re flying out on Thanksgiving morning and coming home the Monday after.

She’s missing the concert.

So upset.  Ranting and raving against her father, insisting she wasn’t going to go, insisting we switch it back! Or she just skip the visit! She can’t miss this concert!

Then – mid rant – she gets a text from her friend – “hey, the call back list is up, and N has a picture of it – she said I got a call back!”  So Lemon calls N and says “hey, did I get a call back?”

Nope.

The tears come down in full.  Which is rare.

I took her for another walk to the high school, just in case her friend missed her name.  She was so unhappy, “this is the worst day EVER, but these are BIG things!  Things that aren’t just today!  They affect EVERYTHING. Why do I never get into shows?  Why can’t I go to the concert?  I just want to be in a show, and to go to this concert.  But obviously, I just suck!” (She doesn’t suck.  Singing may not be her strong point anymore – even though she used to be strong enough to get several leads when she was younger. But she does not suck, and I certainly hope she bounces back.)

She really wasn’t on the list.

WD and I were in separate rooms while all this was going on.  We later found out that while I was looking at drive times to the other cities that Star Kid is visiting, he was checking airfare.  Neither seems feasible (duh).

Then:

3) She accidentally threw away her retainer (we found it); and

4) Her throat was feeling horrible, and she woke up the next morning with a horrid cold.  She went to school and was able to listen to all of her friends (SEVERAL of them) talk about their call backs and the parts they were called back for and yadda yadda yadda, while holding her swollen head and longing for her bed.  She skipped crew, and I gave her permission to make a giant vat of rice and sit in front of Veronica Mars all afternoon.  Today – she’s home from school.  She has no voice & says she feels worse than yesterday.

Poor kid.

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The Drama May be the Death of Me

September 29, 2011

Yesterday was the first rehearsal of our school musical.  The first rehearsal is when the kids find out their parts.  Mouse had been very anxious leading up to what we call “Parts Day.”

I also was anxious and stressed leading up to the day, because I am producing the musical, and had a lot of variables to put in place to get the production up and running.

In the end, everything went great.  Mouse is no longer anxious, but instead frantically reading the script over and over, doing her best to memorize her lines.  I am content knowing that our pieces did fall into place, and now that the production period has begun, I can slip into the background while the directors work their magic.  Of course, there will be a few things I need to take care of here and there (along with my co-producer), but all in all – until we near show weekend -I can relax.

BUT!!

Before Mouse got her part, and while she was still chewing her nails in anticipation – Lemon came home with the announcement that the high school has revealed its musical choice, and auditions are 10/3 and 10/4.

Groan.

Here we go again!

The high school musical, though, is pretty different from the 7th/8th grade musical.  The main difference being that in 7th and 8th grade – everyone can act in the show.  If you audition, you get a part.  There are questions and anxieties about which part.  About whether or not you’ll be in the same cast as your friends (we have such high participation rates, we always have 2 casts).  But you never have to worry that you won’t get a part.

Not so in the high school.  In fact, Lemon knows very, very well that an audition at the high school does not mean you are guaranteed a single thing.  She auditioned for several things last year.  The freshman play, the improv troupe, an acapella group and the Shakespeare Play.  She didn’t get into any of them.

Poor Lemon.

She is the reason that I am a producer of plays, and I think she may have something to do with her sister’s theater bug.  Lemon was in her first musical the first year we moved to this town and it was an option – she was in 3rd grade, and she was in the chorus.  (I must say, that was kind of painful.  Lemon isn’t good at sitting still, and she used to be very, very bad at keeping her fingers out of her nose.  So by “being in the chorus” she was “sitting on the bleachers squirming to the point of almost falling off and picking her nose” for 2 hours. )  As soon as she could, she auditioned for acting parts.  She loved it so much, we signed her up for a community theater group as well (also not competitive).  She loves to sing, she loves to act.  She has never had stage fright in her life.   For quite some time, she was thinking about what college has the best theater program.  This is a real love of hers.

Fortunately, she is a very resilient kid.  She didn’t get into the high school productions in her freshman year, but still doesn’t hesitate to try out for the next one.  “I’ll take drama as an elective next year, and get stronger, and then I’ll get in.”  She happily filled her time with sports during her freshman year, and didn’t seem to linger over the rejection from the theater department.

[Although she may be lingering in her head, and just not telling me.]

Now it’s time for the musical auditions.  She really wants to be a part of this musical.  She didn’t try out last year, because she didn’t think she’d get in, and so instead focused on the Freshman Play (and didn’t get in).  So this is her first time auditioning for the musical.  This year’s show choice is one that allows for a big ensemble, so she does have a decent shot.  But she is also kind of rusty, especially vocally.

To help her with her confidence and rustiness, I have done something I never pictured myself doing before — I set her up with voice lessons to prep for this audition.

It feels so stage-mom-like.

I’ve never put money into prepping either kid for an audition before.  They have always had fun, and been relatively low-key.  Lemon has had voice lessons in the past, but at her request and in line with her hope to one day have some involvement in music.  Those lessons stopped at the end of last school year because her voice teacher moved out of our state.  I had intended to get her a new voice teacher (again at her request), but she’s immersed in fall crew, and we really haven’t had time.  If she already had a voice teacher, she would work with that person to get ready for this audition, so maybe I shouldn’t feel strange.  But I kind of do.

This morning, before her first prep session (she’ll have 2, I think), she went to the library to look for music for some of her favorite musicals.  We have a few other books, thanks to my involvement in the elementary school plays, and she has some ideas.  I just heard that the library trip was not fruitful, so I’m glad we had the back ups, which she’d already been through and chose some possible songs from.

In the meantime, WD has been helping her with the required monologue.  He found her some collections of comedic monologues (what they prefer), and she is working through those, too.

I’m usually pretty good about keeping my life separate from my kids’ lives, but Lemon’s auditions tend to have me on the edge of my seat.  I think I will have some anxiety leading up the auditions, and waiting for the results.  This anxiety has, in the past, manifested itself in such a way that I received the following text from Lemon:  “Mom!  You texted me in the middle of a math test! And they haven’t posted the list yet!”

Oops.