Thursday, February 16, 2006

Thursday Thirteen - Stage Mom Edition

Thirteen Things about Being a Stage Mom

1. First let me say that I probably shouldn't be calling myself a stage mom. Big D is really handling all things related to show business in our family. He does all the heavy lifting, as they say. I do nothing except undeservedly bask in the glory of A Girl's success. So I guess I am just a typical stage mom.

2. A Girl and her dad have been in L.A. for two weeks and they're staying until early March. It's "pilot season" in Hollywood which means there's more casting than usual. When you go for pilot season, the hope is that you'll get cast on a show that actually makes it to the air. If you're lucky, your show will be a hit and you'll have a job for awhile.

3. A Girl had her first audition on Friday for a small role in an episode of an existing show and she booked it! They filmed the episode Tuesday. I would love to tell you all what show it is but out of a growing concern for her safety and privacy, I've decided not to give details. Some of my early readers have seen pictures of her and could probably figure out who she is if they watch this particular show. All I'll say is that it's a comedy and she has two lines.

4. After a week of nothing but that one audition (and booking!), she now has a few things on the schedule for this week. Since they're out there for her to audition, it's great that she's getting seen. She has voice over, print and movie auditions so she's seeing a wide variety of people.

5. I'm torn between wanting her to get something big and wanting her to come home to have a "normal" life. We never thought we'd be doing this - at least not this soon after she started. Even after she spent three months performing in Asia, we didn't anticipate her career taking off yet. But then she won a spot in the Chicago Childrens' Choir, got a role in this play and was asked by an L.A. agency to go to California to audition. Now she has a "name" TV show under her belt which is a huge resume boost - who knows where it could lead her.

6. Sometimes I underestimate her which, I think stems from my own fear of rejection. I think she's cute and she's a really nice kid. I want her to do well because she's so happy performing and has always wanted to be on TV. And because she's my kid. But when I look at her, I see a normal kid. I don't see a "star." So when I go to auditions with her and see a bunch of kids that are better dressed with perfect hair and perfect teeth, I worry that A Girl will get her heart broken. But at this point, she's had more rejections than bookings and she's fine with it. She actually likes auditioning. She loves getting a job but she's ok if she just gets an audition. She understands how it works. Clearly, her skin is thicker than mine.

7. I know I've said it before but seeing your baby on television is totally cool and slightly surreal. Especially when she's saying "I love you mommy!" to a Stepford Wives version of me.

8. I have to credit my husband for this idea, but he is very careful to remind A Girl that doing commercials etc. is just like any other extra-curricular activity. If her grades slip, if she starts getting a bad attitude, if it all starts to be too much for her to handle then she doesn't do it anymore until her priorities change. People (myself included) tend to call what she does a "career" but that's a big thing for any eight year old to carry. Big D once told her, "Remember, you're not an actress, you're a kid and that's ok." Before they went to California, Big D heard her saying just that to one of her friends. She doesn't want them to treat her differently. She just wants to be a kid.

9. Every once in awhile she needs a reminder that the world doesn't revolve around her but for the most part, she's a really nice, friendly person. That's what makes her success all the sweeter for the people who love her. She really deserves to have good things happen to her.

10. The other thing I worry about is her little sister. Given the exciting things that are going on with A Girl, it's way too easy to get caught up talking about her and not talking about M Girl. First of all, I talk about A Girl too much as it is. Then it doesn't feel right talking about M Girl because I've pretty much dominated the conversation at that point. I don't want to be one of those people who does nothing but talk about their own kids and never lets anyone get a word in edgewise. But sometimes I feel like I have to add something about M Girl so it doesn't seem like I've totally forgotten that I have another child. That's awful, isn't it?

11. M Girl and I are going to California on Saturday. Lucky for me, I get to be in Board meetings all week. M Girl gets to be schlepped around to A Girl's auditions. But I'm sure she'll just be happy to be with her dad and her sister. I think she's getting sick of beating me in Crazy 8's. She needs another willing victim.

12. There's a whole stage mom culture here that I'm sure is probably just as catty as the one in L.A. (but Big D will have to let me know about that one). Even though I talk up a storm about A Girl to people who know us, I don't sit at auditions questioning other mothers about what work their kid has done just so I can brag about A Girl. Seriously, there's one mother who sits by the door at auditions and questions EVERY person who walks through the door.

13. I worry about A Girl getting obnoxious and full of herself as she gets more success. But as I said in #8, Big D is really good about keeping her grounded. The reality is that I should worry more about ME getting obnoxious. Because the awful truth is that I can't wait to tell the other stage moms that A Girl got a tv show! The next time I say that I'm not a typical stage mom, feel free to give me a good smack down.

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Saturday, February 11, 2006

The sneaky one

It's Saturday afternoon. Earlier in the day, our 4 year old neighbor, H girl, came over to play for a little while. When H Girl went home, my babysitter insisted on accompanying her in the elevator to her apartment despite H Girl's protests that she could go by herself. Although this building is about as safe as they come, no place is perfectly safe. We very rarely let our kids go somewhere in the building without us and then only if both of them are together.

M Girl is eating a snack and I'm doing the dishes when we hear a little knock at our apartment door. I open the door and see H Girl, by herself. I'm pretty sure her parents wouldn't let her come down alone. She's not exactly the most trustworthy kid.
"I'm here again! I'd like some food. Do you have any popsicles?"
"Honey, where's your dad? Did he tell you that you could come back here?"
"Well, I asked him if I could come over."
"What did he say? Does he know you're here?"
"I asked him and he said no so I sneaked out." She does a little sneaking dance in my living room.

I adore this girl but she's Trouble. She's adorable and sweet and has the awesome power of teeny tiny cuteness. You just want to scoop her up and carry her around in your big mom purse. But just try to say no to her and watch the storm clouds gather. Thunder claps! Lightning strikes! She turns into a small but very loud, flailing mass of fury. At least that was last month. Now I guess she just does what she wants regardless. It's quieter but a lot more unsettling.

So, before I can say another word to her (like "Holy crap kid are you in trouble"), M Girl says "H Girl! You can't just leave your house without telling your parents!" You go girl. I seriously thank my lucky stars that I don't have to worry about my girls doing something like that (at least not yet). They aren't perfect kids and they push our buttons like any other kids. But we've tried to teach them about safety and when it comes to that kind of stuff, they really tow the line.

So H Girl's dad came down to get her. I open the door and she's talking to him like nothing happened. "Dad, can I come back later? Is my friend S home? When are we eating dinner?" He's clearly pissed. He picks her up and walks wordlessly away while she chatters on. She clearly doesn't know what kind of trouble she's in. Then again, she behaves like this because her parents are a bit lax in the discipline department. Maybe she knows that they're no match for the power of her teeny tiny cuteness.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Thursday Thirteen - Things that irritate me

It's another PMS-driven Thursday Thirteen! (Yes, I have PMS again. If it bothers you, talk to my husband. He can tell you that the only way to deal with my PMS is to repeatedly bang your head against a brick wall. That way, the pain in your ass caused by my PMS will be overshadowed by the pain in your head.) Anyway, instead of trying to freak you out with my mood swings, I'll see how many of my readers I can offend with a list of things that irritate me.

1. Anti-bacterial tissues. Seriously - has anyone EVER gotten a virus from germs that have been blown into a tissue? Was there some burning customer need for foul-smelling, too thick tissues that have the dubious benefit of killing germs that weren't going to hurt anyone? If I was a cynical person, I would say that the tissue company is simply trying to market a higher margin product to an insanely germ-phobic public.

2. People who smoke in front of the entrance to a public building. I try to be a live and let live person. If someone wants to destroy their lungs by smoking, that's their choice. Personally, I choose to clog my arteries with Krispy Kremes. To each his or her own. But the thing is, my Krispy Kreme habit doesn't impact the health of other people. Second hand smoke - besides being annoying to most non-smokers - has been shown to be harmful. Ok, I realize that when I drive my car the exhaust has a detrimental impact on the environment but allowing the use of cars is a societal choice as much as a personal choice. So, anyway . . . it pisses me off when I have to enter or leave a building and I have no choice but to walk through a cloud of smoke to get where I need to go. Please - if you must smoke, can you move away from the entrance of the building?

3. Winter. Well, more specifically, winter after New Years. I like a white Christmas season (or Christmakkah as one of my Jewish friends living with a Christian woman calls it). And I know some people actually like snow and do "fun" things like speeding down a mountain, dodging other people and huge rocks and just generally trying not to get killed, maimed or otherwise injured. I don't mind cooler weather but there is simply NO NEED for below zero temperatures. To be completely honest, we've had a fairly mild winter and I'm probably jinxing everything by complaining when I promised at the beginning of this god awful season that I wouldn't complain. But I'm PMSing, it's February, I'm sick of gray skies and cold weather. I'm sick of my winter coat. I'm sick of my winter clothes and if I never wore another pair of flannel pajamas I'd live happily ever after.

4. People who can't admit they're wrong. (Dear husband, please stop laughing). I can admit when I'm wrong. I can. It might take me a day (or five) but eventually I can admit it. Usually.

5. Incompetent people who somehow manage to weasel themselves into a position of responsibility. Especially when I have to work with them. How do these people get where they are? What makes the people who hire them think they are actually capable of doing the job? Let me just say that just because someone is a decent salesman does not mean that he can competently run a huge project that requires attention to detail, understanding of a wide variety of rules and regulations and the acceptance of reality.

6. Britney Spears and Kevin Federline. 'Nuff said y'all.

7. People who believe that there are big corporate, political or religious conspiracies going on requiring huge numbers of people are coordinating their efforts to dupe the "ordinary" person or destroy society as we know it. The most recent one irritating me has to do with the announcement by the American College of Chest Physicians that over the counter cough suppressants don't work. In an interesting article in the Chicago Tribune, author Julie Deardorff quotes "quackwatcher" Robert Carroll as saying that he knows that OTC cough medicines work because he's used them and millions of people swear by them so they MUST work. He goes on to say "Who's right? The millions of us with common sense and experience or some group of pointy-headed medical doctors who want us to get pneumonia so we'll have to check into the hospital and pay large medical bills to help pay for their SUVs and vacation homes?" Yeah, that's right. 16,000+ doctors got together and said to themselves, "Let's tell people that OTC cough medicines don't work so we can make more money." That's just plain stupid.

There's also the International Jewish Conspiracy to take over the world. I'm Jewish. Some of my best friends are Jewish. I'm shocked that none of us have been invited to the conspiracy planning meetings. I have some great ideas about how to take over the world. Maybe we're just not Jewish enough . . .

8. Restaurants that display actual plates of food to show their daily specials. Right after those plates are put out, the food starts to look unappetizing. Seriously people, the last thing I want to see when I walk into a restaurant for lunch is a plate of gnarly looking, five-hour-old eggs garnished with wilted parsley.

9. People who play annoying music in their cars at deafening levels. Look, if you're driving down the highway I can understand wanting to blast Bon Jovi's Livin' on a Prayer or, better yet, REO Speedwagon's Roll With the Changes. (Yeah, yeah - I was a teenager in the '80s. So sue me.) I might even understand it if you blast hip hop or techno under those circumstances. (Like I said in #2 - to each his or her own). But if you're at a stop light in the middle of the damn city, it's simply not appropriate to listen to irritating disco beats at a volume so high that the street shakes and people in neighboring towns cover their ears.

10. Parents that live vicariously through their children. I recognize that this is a dangerous subject. Not only because I am perilously close to doing this with my own child but because, to some extent I think most parents live through their children to one extent or another. To me, one of the great things about having kids is being able to experience their discovery of the world. As parents, we want - and need - to guide them and keep them safe on that journey. That guidance is based on our own experience and desires. Someone who always wanted to play sports as a kid but couldn't for one reason or another, is likely to encourage their kids to play sports. Someone who loved musical theater as a kid but didn't have the nerve or ability to do it professionally is going to be really excited when her daughter gets a role in the Sound of Music and gets to do the show in Asia for three months. Just hypothetically speaking. It's not that I actually know anyone like that . . . I'm ok with that kind of inevitable living through your kids.

What irritates me is parents whose self-esteem rests in the achievements of their kids. I admit, I talk about A Girl way too much sometimes. Partly because she's doing some exciting things and partly because in my weaker moments, I fall prey to typical stage parent bragginess. But, in the end, this is all about A Girl and not about me. I simply can't stand the type of mother (I'm not being sexist here - it's always the mothers in this business) who sits at the door of the auditions and tells everyone how great her kid is and how excited she was to be in the such-and-such movie with X mildly famous person. Or the mother who says "Didn't your daughter audition for Y commercial with my daughter? Well, my daughter booked that commercial, you know." Yeah? Bite me.

11. The fact that it is apparently impossible for me to make a simple list without expounding ad nauseum and creating a long, rambling post instead of the pithy bit of blogging entertainment I intended to create.

12. When the Starbucks barista doesn't put any foam in my latte. Yes, I know that in the scheme of things this should not get my undies in a bunch but, let's face it, I spend something close to the annual GDP of Bolivia on my morning lattes so shouldn't I get it just the way it's supposed to be?

13. Believe it or not, I've run out of things to bitch about. Shocking, I know.

Now that I've either bored you to death or offended you, maybe you want to check out some other Thursday Thirteens. Mosey on over to the sidebar to the Thursday Thirteen links.


Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It's easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!