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Birthdays or anniversaries on Fridays are a rare treat indeed. All the waiting for celebrations are skipped when the celebrated day naturally occurs on Friday. Saturdays are good too. If you can have your special day on a weekend, you have fun built right in!

It has been 16 years of wedded bliss for us. Our marriage is now old enough to drive. Too bad it couldn’t drive Gwen to and from her performance this past weekend. Apparently driving privileges are only granted to people. Instead of staring deeply into each other’s eyes over a fancy meal, reminiscing over our time together while the kids entertain each other, we had an entirely different experience.

Our anniversary evening began at 2:00 pm when we got in the van to pick up Gwen from school. The boys hadn’t even come home from school yet. We saw them walking and told them they were on their own. Two hours later we made it back home for a quick 45 minute break before having to brave the traffic again to go back.

Two hours is a long time to be in the car and not have really gone anywhere. The theater isn’t far but between the school parking lot traffic (took over 30 minutes to get out) and the insane commuter traffic, a short couple of miles turns into two hours. And grumpy moods. That school parking lot was an experience. Why do parents insist on driving their kids when there are school buses that do it for you?

Given all the en vogue food allergies these days plus designer diets, the PTA couldn’t even buy pizza for the kids for dinner. Parents had to furnish dinner. Which is a bit of a trick. Gwen ate a McDonald’s happy meal on the way to the theater. Dinner for her was before 3:00 pm. The  PTA did offer fruits and veggies along with rice patties for the kids shortly before performance time.

At one point I wanted to dress up to watch these performances. The idea came from kids movies where the parents put on their theater best to support their children’s performance. By the time we got to Friday, I was so overwhelmed with the whole thing that I decided against the dress. I wore a nice shirt and jeans instead. Had I worn the dress I would have been even more upset that we essentially paid to watch a dress rehearsal.

No one was ready. The director read most of the lines just to keep the show moving. Cruella didn’t know any of the songs. And an entire scene was skipped. I only knew because it was a scene with Gwen’s only line. She did not get to say her line and she was upset.

She came out with the Scottie dogs for the Twilight Bark song. I was confused when I saw that she didn’t have a costume. When she came out again she looked a little lost as she ran under the piano with the other kids. She was crying as she clipped the flower back on her Dalmatian dog ear headband. I watched as she wiped the tears from her face and continued to act. A few minutes later all the kids on stage yelled, “101 Dalmatians!” I realized the show was wrapping up yet Gwen never said her line. I was very confused.

Before the show started the PTA moms greeted the audience and introduced the directors. While the show was mentioned, it seemed to take a back seat to the all important instructions of how to retrieve the kids afterwards. It seemed tacky. Gwen was fighting back tears when I got backstage. The PTA mom asked who I was looking for and sent Gwen out to me. There was no clipboard for parents to sign their kids out. Gwen melted into sobs when she got to me.

I did my best to comfort her confused and frustrated heart as we walked out. I was pretty steamed myself. All I could think of was how much money we were asked to put into this. And her scene was cut!

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Heath and I laughed when Gwen gave us our tickets. Apparently we are now the We Stoners! We joked that we must be stoners for having to pay to watch our child perform. Little did we know!

Saturday morning I got up and resolved to give the directors another chance. I would only send a nasty email if Gwen’s part was cut again. I did go a little crazy on the hair and makeup. Parents weren’t given any instructions for Friday other than keep long hair out of faces. That night we were sent an email stating that the lights washed out the kids too much so it would be helpful if parents put mascara and lipstick on their kids for Saturday.

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Her hair didn’t stay as puffy as I wanted it to but the buns were still cute. I went to town on her makeup. If my girl was going to have to play a part without a costume and have her line cut, she was going to look smashing doing it. I was so proud of how mature she appeared on stage anyway. She knew all the songs and dances when the other kids struggled. Even though she did cry on stage out of sheer confusion, she pulled herself together quickly and painted a smile on her face. The show must go on.

At Saturday’s rehearsal Gwen asked the director what happened to her scene. The director argued with her that nothing was cut. The director and assistant director are very young. This may be their first play on their own. I was proud of Gwen for sticking up for herself and even more proud that she didn’t let the argument continue. Gwen dropped it when the director refused to believe there was a mistake.

Gwen quietly made up her mind to not do the Scottie part. People kept telling her she needed to go out there for her song. She refused. She realized that was where the problem had occurred. There was no time to switch parts between the Twilight Bark and the
Fur Vault scene. Plus, she didn’t even have a Scottie costume. Success! The scene went off without a hitch and Gwen delivered her line clearly.

I found it interesting that there was no mention of pick up procedures. Pick up took a long time since there was only one clipboard and kids weren’t being released until they had been signed out! We were all quite happy when it was all over.

Overall it was a good experience for Gwen. She didn’t learn much by way of acting but she did exhibit a lot of maturity and responsibility. She enjoyed herself and had fun. Yes, I will let her do it again. It will help if I know it’s not the same company next year!

Sixteen years ago, Heath and I would have never imagined an anniversary like this. We never would have thought we would ever celebrate an anniversary in Hawaii. Even more outlandish was the idea that after Hawaii we would celebrate the following year carpooling Gwen all over kingdom come for a half hour play. *sigh*

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