I've written before about my struggles with my inner stage mother. "Hello my name is Jessica and I'm a stage mother." I admit it and I've given myself over to a higher power to assist me in my efforts to talk about things other than my children and their forays into show business.
But my recovery efforts were hampered today because I took A Girl to a shoot for a McDonald's commercial this morning. I thought I could do it - I've been away from other stage mothers for some time now. My husband usually takes her to auditions and jobs and he's able to ignore the stage mothers. He doesn't get involved in the one-upsmanship (one ups-mothership?) that goes on. He reads the paper. He reads a book. He's perfectly comfortable sitting in a room with other people and not actually conversing with them.
I, however, feel compelled to converse. It is my sickness. I must help fill the silence. But when those other people are stage mothers, things can get ugly. I at least half-heartedly try not participate in the competition. I can dish it, when I feel like it. I can talk about the work A Girl does, compare different agents, dish about other stage mothers and just generally talk the talk. But nothing I've experienced before could have prepared me for today. Today I met THE stage mother from hell. And her evil spawn.
A Girl was working with two boys. The mom of the first boy - we'll call him "Al" - was about as close to normal as we stage mothers get. Other than talking about Al (and her three other children in the business) and how "special" he is, she talked about the pool in her backyard, the numerous restaurants her parents own (one of which she used to manage until she quit to be a full-time stage mother) and the mansion her parents lived in before their divorce. The mansion with the movie theater complete with stadium seating. And cup holders.
The second boy - evil spawn - shall be known as "Freak Boy". His mother was quite possibly the most annoying person I have ever met in my 42 years. And I have met some REALLY annoying people. This woman was not even in the same universe as reality. She was so full of shit. Because I want to share my pain, here's a sampling of the things this woman said (and I SERIOUSLY am not making up one word of it):
"I love my son's school. I gave everyone on the staff a three day vacation as a holiday gift from Freak Boy. There are only 65 of them so I thought it would be nice to treat them all to a little vacation." Assuming this is true (and I have little doubt that it's utter bullshit) I can't even begin to articulate how inappropriate it is to do and even more inappropriate to talk about with total strangers.
"My mom isn't feeling well. I bought a vintage mansion in Hyde Park so Freak Boy and I can move in with her. It has 8 bedrooms and 11,000 square feet. Well, that includes the basement which is about 3,000 square feet so we have 8,000 square feet of living space." Um, I can do the math, thanks.
"This will sound corny but I was watching Richie Rich with my son the other night and I realized that kids today need to know about a lot of different things to be successful. Like investments. I want my son to be at a school that has a class in investments for nine year olds." Yeah, I'm pretty sure there aren't any of those. Because it makes NO FUCKING SENSE.
"It's not like we're rich or anything but I find that the other parents at Freak Boy's school don't have the same goals we have as a family. I mean, the other parents voted NOT to have Japanese taught at the school. They just don't understand what it takes to be successful." If it's so important to you and since you apparently have more money than God, I'm sure you can afford a Japanese tutor for Freak Boy. But just because you want it doesn't mean that the PUBLIC SCHOOL your child goes to should pay for it (assuming it can actually afford it).
"My son is in the gifted program at xyz school. He got 99.6% on their gifted test. So that's why I decided to send him to that school. They have an excellent gifted program." Um, ok.
"I told my son that he can't do commercials if he doesn't maintain all A's in school. He's really smart." Yeah, ok.
"I tell my son all the time 'You're a winner!' That's why he's so successful." Really? Wow, that's just stupid.
"I don't want my son to be able to see me while he's working. When he sees me, he tends to over-achieve. He always wants to be the best when I'm around." Actually, he's just trying to get your attention. You apparently are so busy imagining that you're buying mansions and giving inappropriate gifts to the school administration that you forgot to pay attention to your child. I'm totally going to call DCFS on you.
I'm sure you'll believe me when I say that being in the same room with this woman for over an hour was positively excruciating. But because I'm dense and didn't see the warning signs (see especially the last two quotes), I wasn't prepared for Freak Boy.
After the kids were done getting their wardrobe and make up and stuff, the production people were nice enough to allow us to hang out at the back of the set. I was able to indulge myself and take a picture or two (or five, but who's counting) and be there to help A Girl relax during breaks.
In the commercial, the three kids are sitting at a table playing with Happy Meal toys. Not surprisingly, they're supposed to be talking to each other, laughing and showing each other their toys. Instead of playing nice (and being a normal human being), Freak Boy decided it would be more fun to "torment" (his word) my daughter. Despite the fact that the director had to tell him - before, during and after EVERY take - to stop tormenting A Girl so much, Freak Boy didn't let up. The "mom" in the commercial kept saying through clenched yet smiling teeth "Freak Boy, play nice."
During breaks, he wouldn't leave her alone. The kid cannot shut up. He talked back to the director. He talked back to the assistant director. He talked back to the producer. God help me - I wanted to drop kick that kid across the room. All the while, his mother stood there beaming. Positively proud of her evil spawn and his cheeky ass ways.
The other kid was a little better. At least he wasn't tormenting my daughter or talking back to everyone in sight. But every time they took a break, Al ran over to his hand held video game toy and started playing. Every time they wanted the kids back on set, they had to pry that thing out of his hand. His mother stood there, watching this and essentially forcing the assistant director to spend his precious time getting Al to do the work Al was being paid for.
I'm not saying my daughter is perfect and I fully admit that I'm a stage mother. Most likely, I've annoyed more than my fair share of other people. But my husband and I spend a lot of time and effort making sure that A Girl understands the importance of being professional. Virtually everyone who has worked with her has commented on her focus when she's working. She takes direction well. She doesn't goof around and waste people's time. Off the set, she's a normal kid. But when she's working, she's more professional than many adults. If she was bothering someone on set or talking back to the director, she'd hear it from me or her father at the earliest opportunity.
Working with Freak Boy was really hard on her. It made it hard to do her job and that's what really pissed me off. Even more frustrating is that I couldn't do a thing about it. The production people were doing what they could to stop him, he just wasn't listening. He wasn't actually hurting her and I didn't feel that I could step in to demand that he stop annoying my child. It's not my place and would hurt her more than help her. All I could do was keep him away from her during breaks. And that wasn't easy because he appeared to want her attention more than anything. Even more than his mother's attention. Or maybe he figured that was a lost cause.