Thursday, February 25, 2010

Stage Mother Without the Stage

Scarlett stepped onto a stage to rehearse her first show in October, 2006; she had turned eight in August. Until February 14 1010 – that is THREE YEARS and four months, friends—that child has been in a play. Let’s say this in a different way: Scarlett has been spending most of her evenings away from home for the past three and a half years.

Let’s say it this way: For the first time in three and a half years, the Matron or her husband are not required to leave their warm, comfortable home and two other children at 9:00 or 10:00 pm, nightly, to go retrieve Scarlett.

Roll the situation over on its side: For over 1/3 of her life has been constituted by theater.

Angle down to the seven-year old level and you find this: Merrick has been missing his sister every evening for three and a half years and now SHE IS HOME.

Merrick would be the only family member happy with the new arrangement.

Scarlett? This child is having a hard time adjusting to normal life with the family, largely because her ‘normal’ has been something entirely else. Her normal has been work, art, company and audience. Sort of hard going from being Ramona Quimby and Annie on national stages, back to regular old Scarlett (if there can be a regular old anyone with that name). Now she’s moving through the house unsatisfied with her options. It’s a good thing there’s Hulu because she can watch Glee (when she’s not singing along to the soundtracks from Rent, Grease, Chicago, The Sound of Music, and Fame).

Matron: “Does it feel strange to not be in a show?”

Scarlett: “Hmmmmmm.”

Matron: “Do you want to talk about it?”

Scarlett: “Hmmmmm.”

Matron: “Do you want me to start sending you new auditions?”

Scarlett: “YES YES YES YES YES!”

You see, Scarlett was supposed to be in a show right now but that was postponed until the fall (The Miracle Worker, a final romp with Helen). So she was also relatively ill-prepared for this unexpected, showless, state.

Colonists who’ve taken off their shoes and settled in, will remember that Scarlett was also invited to L.A for pilot season. Before the parents could even MAKE that decision, Scarlett decided to stay here so she could audition for a show traveling to New York. Audition she did, but the theater company decided to only cast 13 and up. Scarlett is 11.

And unmoored. Suddenly without the anticipated Miracle Worker, no LA and pilot season, no show in New York. All of which were either supposedly in place or within reach. Poof, vanished.

Now, the past three and a half years in theater have introduced Scarlett and her mother to a number of very fine human beings—artistic, intelligent and talented. Scarlett has brushed shoulders with fame and the famous have been generous in return. And in the midst of one of Scarlett’s huge acting successes, one of the most famous of these people---a beloved actress—took the Matron aside and said: parent toward the no. Parent toward the day the work dries up, because it will; it always dries up for everyone.

Famous Actress: “It’s easy to be generous and nice when you’re on top. You work on the other end, when it all seems dark.”

Thank you, honey.

The Matron has been waiting for this day and it is here. It is dark. It is a quieter-than-normal 11 year old in her room listening to music, a child wandering downstairs and asking “what is there to do,” a brave spirit clearly pretending when she’s laughing at the table and looking happy. The new normal is home with no real reason to hurry with that homework anymore, no friends to look forward to every evening. This day has brought a return to regular bedtime with her brothers instead of midnight at candlelight with parents, eating popcorn and unwinding from the show.

Parenting in the darkness. Sigh. It’s a lot harder than anticipated, friends, and feels a lot more uncharted. But she’s doing her level best to model for and offer to Scarlett all of the other wonderful ways in which life says: yes, yes, yes. Not only always onstage.


Whoknows said...

Oh, its such a let down when the shows end. We go thru this yearly (the adults in the family). I can only imagine how much more so when its been a solid 1/3rd of one's life. What a shift in perspective!

Maybe there is time to work on specific skills geared toward future stage work?

Best wishes to you all!

MJ said...

I know this must be so hard for her. It is hard to miss the stagelights.

This break is good for her, really good for her. She needs time to be a "regular" tween.

The stagelights will come on soon enough.

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

This must be difficult -- akin to the end of the debate season when I was coaching a lot... She's used to running around like her hair is on fire, having fun and meeting lots of new people -- then, poof -- it's all gone.

Mama Ava said...

I'm sure people all tell you all the time about all the great things Scarlett is learning and experiencing...and they're right, of course. But there is a tremendous life lesson to be learned in this day and age about the need and the joy in not being busy. One of the hardest things about moving to Tanzania for us and our kids was there really wasn't anything to do. No tv, no movies (half the time we didin't have electricity), difficult computer connections...but the idea that you can be content and satisfied and HAPPY being alone, or being quiet, or being in a state of not doing or rushing...I think that's hugely important.

Lucky girl to have a mom/family that manages ALL the parts of her life!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

You got some really good advice from that actress. Wow. And breaks are good. Boredom forces us to be creative. And it does take a body 2 weeks to wind down, which is why the Europeans take month-long vacations. Enjoy the silence. I imagine that a gal of Scarlet's ilk will fill it up soon enough!