The Matron is of the firm belief that the most essential element of parenting is solidified at the toddler level when the wee one, well, toddles-- off in the direction of whatever interests him or her most. At that ever transitory moment.
Dog! That kid is off and running.
And the parent's job is to follow that child who is chasing her interests.
Well, that's worked out all fine and dandy in theory but life on the Rocket Ship named Scarlett can be pretty exhausting. Some people wake up in the morning and read the newspaper. She goes here.
Scarlett: "Mom! Why don't those people change that web site overnight! There are the VERY SAME auditions as last night! It's been TEN HOURS. Can't there be something new?"
Repeat. Every morning.
The Matron understands that there are Stage Mothers who fit the hiss and claw. She's met a few. But there are Stage Mothers who honest to God-Buddha-Oprah-Allah fall into the camp of Dazed and Confused and Driven by the Child (and who would rather be blogging).
Here's what happens when you don't plan or plot or scheme but go with the flow as it presents itself to the child.
Ring, ring, ring goes the telephone.
Best Agent in Town: "Hello this is X! Can we sign your daughter?"
Matron queries Scarlett: "Do you want an agent? Try the whole commercial route?"
Scarlett: "YES YES YES YES."
Three weeks and a couple of commercial audition and film shoots later.
Ring, ring, ring, ring.
L.A.- Agent: "Hello! We've seen your daughter's film clips. We'd like to sign her as a client for sit-coms, movies and TV."
Matron: "Scarlett do you want to audition for movies and television shows and pilots filmed mostly in L.A.?"
Scarlett: "YES YES YES YES."
The Matron will admit that this one gave her pause. What if the child won the golden ticket and was called out West? But in the end, she continued following that toddling child because she didn't want to be the one to say NO. She knows the NO is ahead. (previous sentence being big moral behind blog post to other potential stage parents) But she'd rather the NO TO YOUR DREAMS come from someone else and that she --the mama--be the one who helps her daughter stand strong in the face of denial and disappointment. That's the greater lesson than being the star.
What if following where your child leads you means that your ten-year old is booked from January to May of 2010 in local theatre? It is July 2009 and the Matron is juggling that far ahead.
And when you follow this Rocket Ship, there's no distinction between a rickety back yard stage and The Guthrie. A show is a show is a show and trumps all else.
Because what if following your child meant that three plus years ago, your then-7 year old had numerous 14 year olds up her sleeve--all theater rats-- and the group conspired to stage some down-home backyard production of Annie involving 28 children, 97 costumes and a pet rat?
You do it. Well, the Matron did.
That show morphed into another and another and this summer is the Fourth Annual Backyard Production, requiring one full week of 5:00-8:30 rehearsals, 23 children, 19 buckets of paint, four seven foot-tall cardboard backdrops, eleven stage curtains and 37 sturdy paper clips, one vomiting session (Satan's Familiar) and a hands-down-no-discussion-policy-of-no-parental-involvement-whatsoever.
Besides feeding them.
Tonight, the Matron picked up a prop and Scarlett screamed: DONT TOUCH THAT.
So she's in the midst of rehearsal for the Fourth Annual Play. Meaning a dozen families drop off their children for a week of nights -- wild, child-driven nights spent painting sets, blocking scenes, practicing songs, hammering stages--with parents positioned in the wings in case anyone needs to be driven to the hospital.
The big production is Saturday at 5 pm. Scarlett is currently existing in a state of Directorial Anxiety. She falls asleep with sheets of paper at her side -- scraps of potential costumes littering her floor, sheet music in the hallway. She wakes up, checks the audition web site, reads the Arts section of the local paper and gets down to making her show.
Scarlett: "Mom. This show ends Saturday at 6 pm. I need another. Can you get me something?"
Following that child. . . . with blisters.
And if the San Diego sit-com works out, she plans to stay here. . . .