Saturday, March 22, 2008

Tonight, The Matron Is Thinking of You, Son

Remember that today the Matron took Scarlett to audition for Madeline and the Gypsies and The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe at the highly competitive professional Minneapolis Children's Theater?

And while you knew, crafty reader, that this experience would give the Matron material, you would never have imagined it would get this good. Or tragic.

First, Scarlett did not get a callback for the lead roles in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. But her dear friend Addie did!

And Scarlett screamed with joy and said: "I wanted her to get in more than my own self!"

That's my baby. Me, too! Break a leg, Addie. We're big fans!!!

Callbacks for Madeline and ensemble roles in both show stagger in, and some, not till August. This life is not for the feint of heart or anyone in a hurry. Of course, Scarlett is seasoned and genuinely oblivious to competition.

Remember the Matron's very fine rule for auditioning at high-octane places? She listens but does not partake in conversation.

Over 260 children auditioned. Scarlett smiled as a perky metrosexual male snapped a Polaroid photo and pinned #226 to her dirty t-shirt.

While we were waiting in a large room for the children to be called from our 3:00 group, a mother in expensive everything ushered in her beautiful daughter, Deirdre, who looked about Scarlett's age (9).

There was an 8 x 11 head shot ---and the resume? Two pages!

This mother knew another: they hugged and air-kissed and quickly caught up -- uh, I mean ran down the long list of Deirdre's recent achievements (commercials, film, photo shoots, theater).

Since nobody else in the room was talking (most of these families were fresh meat, staring nervously at their fingers; the Matron, being both pro and sociologist, was unabashedly observing) we all heard every word about short jaunts to Vegas for commercials, complaints about lazy managers, two-week jobs in Paris and wily agents.

Did you know the Coen brothers are still casting for their upcoming made-in-Minnesota movie?

Both those mothers did--and more importantly, who to call.

Deirdre's mother brushed her daughter's hair and ( a Matronly favorite ahead!) removed the child's boots for her and slipped on the shoes. She flipped the child's bountiful black hair into a ponytail and inspected her work.

Did we mention that Scarlett has not washed her hair since last Sunday and auditioned with chocolate on the corners of her lips? The Matron cannot remember the last time she changed this child's shoes. Maybe six years ago?

The mother, not satisfied with the very important ponytail, redid it, three times.

At this point, the Matron fully appreciated the one woman show she was watching. She duly noted that an entire room---25 actors and at least one (sometimes 2) parents,, so make that about 60 total strangers - knew one and only one child's name and what Dedee (we knew the nickname by then too) had been up to lately. And that it was more than you.

The Matron could not help herself. She giggled.

And caught the eye of one parent, who smiled back. Until this point, he had worked with laser focus on his laptop. His teenage daughter was reading a book. But he too, took note of Deirdre and her mother. The Matron and the laptop guy shared raised eyebrows.

After the children trotted off to do their stuff, Dedee's mother and the friend had an intimate conversation.

You know, the kind you save for the privacy of home?

And this is when the remaining 35 strangers learned that Deirdre's 15-year old half- brother from the mother's first marriage is: "Simply not worth the trouble."

Deirdre's Mother: "And I refuse to have him live with us. He just begs. Says his father's new wife hates him. He wants his mother. But I cannot condone the bad grades and all that trouble."

Friend (not also insane or utterly heartless): "Hmmmmmm."

Deirdre Mother: "I mean, he sometimes lies! He is, this is painful, a C student! He has no focus, no plan, no idea what he wants to do when he grows up. I'm sorry, but I just can't risk this. I don't want DeDee to see this as a model for adolescence."

Friend: "Of course not. You have to draw a line."

Deidre's Mother: "So I am just cutting him loose to his father. He accuses me of loving Dee more! Can you imagine? But when he says this, I just balance that scale: straight A's, the acting and modeling, the career -- to constant struggle and failure. I mean, it's not that I love him less but I cannot tolerate what he's doing. So I am just finished. This is in his father's hands."

And this is where the Matron debated the legality of walking over to this woman and beating her over the head until her brain re-arranged itself into some other formation -- something foreign, like love and acceptance for her own child, however unhappy, direction-less (and shall we say, damaged) that child is.

There was more. A lot more about how undesirable that teenage boy is and how he will never ever stand in the way of Deidre's fabulous career. She exhibited absolute disregard and frequent venom for her child. At one point--when the mother recounted how she refused to hire a tutor for the son in math because she would not enable his shortcomings -- the Matron checked the corners and walls to see if there were hidden cameras. Could this possibly be some weird joke? Reality TV?

When she realized it wasn't, the Matron choked back tears. She caught the eye of that father with the laptop, who shook his head and fairly radiated despair.

Torture ended when the children bounced back in. That's when someone said to the laptop guy's daughter: "Aren't you XX? Weren't you Leisl in The Sound of Music at the Ordway this fall? You were Annie! Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz!"

Turns out that the utterly unobtrusive laptop father is parent to one of the hottest child actors in town, the kid who carries dinner theater productions and major shows and has been working steadily for a decade (and she's probably 16).

Proving that decency and scale can be rewarded. The Matron wanted to throw both virtues to the wind and plant a big juicy one on this parent, who pretty much restored her faith in humanity.

And Deidre? She got the callback. Number 431. Daughter and mother squealed and embraced, gave each other high-fives.

Several other children also got callbacks (by the number) but nobody knew who they were.

Tonight, the Matron is thinking of a 15 year old boy who feels unloved by his stepmother. Who doesn't understand geometry and is afraid no college will accept him. Who asked his mother if he could live with her -- and she said no. A 15-year old boy full of fear and hormones and longing, who understands that his mother not only loves him less, but has washed her hands of him.

She imagines this teenage boy a newborn, helpless, rancid with the wet milk smell. Thinks of him at 4, vulnerable and open, waiting for the world to imprint a story on that clean slate. At six, he still sleeps with his blanket and his face falls into something more like a baby than a boy. He's a first-grader, with a Bat Man lunch box and a peanut-butter sandwich. At 11? Cocky, with baseball bat and glove never far away. Now that he's a teen, he is full of rage and love and power and certainty (even when he's wildly unsure and afraid). If his cell phone isn't in a pocket or palm, he knows something vital will happen at that very minute--and he'll miss the most important moment of Life.

And the Matron? She didn't expect it. But as she was setting the table for dinner, loose and open, unsuspecting and probably premenstrual-- she cried for this child.


Suburban Correspondent said...

I'm sure Scarlett just came across as too complex to play Lucy.

That poor boy (though, I must say that it is sometimes very, very hard to love a teenager - even your own).

Jocelyn said...

Don't attribute your tears to being premenstrual. They came directly from that selfish twat of a mother.

Oh, I'm sorry. Do we not say twat here? If so, apologies.

But mean mamas bring out a fairly primal rage.

Bless Laptop Daddy. And you, for writing this as you did.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I think the Matron showed great restraint for not beating the woman about the head and shoulders. She totally deserves it.

Irene said...

You can add my tears to yours and can I join you in saying what a completely unsuitable and selfish and abusive "mother" this woman is. She ought to be shot at dawn.

It always pains me when I see some children being raised or rejected by people perfectly unable to do the job and, as a matter of fact, do a lot of damage while doing so called "parenting."

Unfortunately, there are no exams yet to pass in order to become a parent to prove you are suitable for it.

Heather said...

My heart also hurts for that boy. How self-absorbed can one woman be? Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

I cannot even begin to tell you how much time I spend with these teenagers who find their way to SteppingStone, undoing the damage that these kinds of parents have done to them. It's happening to more kids than you could ever imagine. I've had that same cry many times.


Anonymous said...

Hah! Your blog is hysterical! Just came across it...had to say hi:)

Anonymous said...

In another life I was this teen, and that rejection will shape every part of his life. Poor soul.
Though perhaps he is lucky in a way, its wee Raven who has to suffer that toxic woman full time.

Scarlett is simply to sweet for words, I doubt I would be so gracious in defeat. Don't our children have so much to teach us?

K. said...

Me, too, Matron. Me, too.

the new girl said...

That story so unbelievable, in a sadly too-familiar way.

It's like she just stepped out of a really bad cliche.

Tootsie Farklepants said...

That poor boy must feel so lost.

I also imagine that that woman was bragging so loudly about Raven and her accomplishments to try to intimidate the competition.

I wonder if Laptop Daddy was writing his own blog right at that moment? LOL!

Happy Easter!

Mary Alice said...

May I join you in beating her over the head? My God. That made me cry.

laurie said...

well, this post started out funny but ended up very sad.

and as i was reading, i was thinking, only in minnesota...

only in minnesota, i mean, would there be only one mother like this at such an audition.

Attila the Mom said...

No fair! Now I'M crying at 6am!! I'm with Jocelyn. That woman is a real t-word. grr

Bea said...

Oh, oh, oh ouch.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear - according to that nasty woman maybe I shouldn't have my son living with me either? Unthinkable. UNTHINKABLE!
I admire your restraint. I may have walked over and puked all over her expensive everything. Ewww!

Minnesota Matron said...

Thanks for sharing this pain with me, friends -- and Josey, for the work you do undoing this kind of damage. This morning, I still feel sad and cried again when I read my own blog post. It was that bad.

Anonymous said...

It made me cry too, when I look at my sons, ages 12 and almost 15. I can't imagine abandoning either of them for anything. And how heartbreaking for that boy.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for visiting my blog and for your kind comment.

You write beautifully - I was swept along to the end of this and felt that I was there.

I do feel sorry for the son, but as the daughter of pushy parents who lived their lives vicariously through my own achievements, I feel just as sorry for poor Raven.

Minnesota Matron said...

Yes, Reluctant, I feel sorry for Raven, too. I can't imagine that she's actually ever been given the opportunity to go through appropriate development stages, like individuation! There's a heavy psychological price. I'm sorry that happened to you.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mary,
Your writing is so exquisite - I had to read that last paragraph through blinding tears.

Anonymous said...

Oh good Lord, I wish you had bitch-slapped that woman into oblivion. I'd have posted your bail in a heartbeat. What a witch.
I'm so digging the laptop dad side of the story, though.
And I remain, as ever, in awe of you and Scarlett. She sounds so grounded and you must be awful proud.

Anonymous said...

That Evil Stepmother is exactly the kind of mother I hate - what a poor boy - nobody deserves that kind of treatment.
Raven is going to end up feeling any better either - the evil witch will wreck both their young lives.
Sadly I know versions here...

I'm with Melissa.

Anonymous said...

Wow, thanks for your comments on my photography! Tried to email you back straight from the comment, but your email wasn't attached, so here I am again!! Hmm, Ann Marsden doesn't ring a bell. I'll have to Google her! Is she another Minnesota photographer??

skatey katie said...

yeah, i want Laptop Daddy's blog url too.
sheesh, so sad.
crying here too X

Karen said...

Okay, I'm going upstairs as soon as I hit enter, and I'm going to smother my little guy in kisses. I cannot do anything about that poor boy, but I can fiercely love my own.

niobe said...

Well, y'know, mutatis mutandis, that's pretty much the way that my mother feels about me, the daughter from her brief and troubled first marriage. And sometimes it makes me sad, but more often I think that Isaac loved Esau and Rebecca loved Jacob and that's just the way these things go.

Beth said...

That (so-called) mother is ruining the lives of two children.
A beautifully written (and heartbreaking) story.

She She said...

Oh, this is heartbreaking. I so hope that there is someone -- anyone -- else in this boy's life who will see the perfect child he is -- just as he is.

Raven won't escape this mother's damage either.

Sad, sad, sad.

Anonymous said...

I would love to hold her while people take turns beating her. Remember that scene from the movie Airplane? Yeah, we could all reenact that.

TitleTroubles said...

Very late to the party here (I am but a short-time lurker), but in addition to the son, who hopefully has had his father step up to the plate where his mother refused, I fear for the daughter. She's been taught, very clearly, that her mother's love is far from unconditional, and that any deviation on her part from her mother's dreams will result in a similar fate for herself.