Last summer, I took the Maiden to a local community theater production of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. One of the aspects that excited me the most (besides the awesome interpretation of Maleficent’s palace as a nightclubby-atmosphere) was the fact that the acting troupe was mostly kids and young adults. The Maiden spent so much time at home rehearsing and acting out shows (and pressing her unwilling mother into service) that it seemed an activity perfectly suited to her. I couldn’t wait til she turned four and was old enough to enjoy putting on a real performance with them.
The performance opportunity came earlier than expected.
Last December, her class started practicing for the school’s Nativity play. The Maiden got the part of the angel who tells the shepherds to not go back to Herod. We studiously practiced her lines with her, over and over. We held mock rehearsals at home, in which we all played many parts. We instructed her in the fine arts of not looking like a fool onstage.
Apparently, we forgot to tell her to behave like a lady. Mercifully, she was partially obscured by some Christmas decorations, sparing the other parents the sight of the Maiden lifting up her dress for a good scratch. We also forgot to tell her to stay onstage. After her part was over, the angel didn’t return to Heaven, but descended towards her parents, who quickly hid themselves in the shadows, while the other moms and dads basked in the security of Not Belonging To That Kid.
Last week, in a pre- Spring Break celebration, the Maiden’s school put on another program, with Easter and spring songs. You know, the cute little songs with accompanying hand motions that kids love so well. The same ones that the Maiden has been singing at home ad nauseum for the past three weeks.
Because she seemed to love singing so much, I figured that this performance would be a breeze. A few months of maturity had surely made a difference. And anyways, what could she really do to a musical program?
The answer was, plenty.
I watched in pain, regretting my earlier mom-identifying wave to the Maiden, as all her sweet classmates opened their little mouths in happy song. My daughter’s mouth opened, true. But not in song. She kept turning around to chat up the little boy behind her or to call to her friend standing on the other side of the stage. When she did look forward, she flashed me with her best “Mommy, aren’t you proud of me?” smile.
Um…no, not especially.
Finally, and none too soon, we arrived at the last song: “Lord I’ll Lift Your Name On High.” Oh, blessed relief; this was one of her favorite songs. Surely this time, at least, she’d be a little more into it?
Oh, she was into it.
Now squirming, I can handle. It’s a requirement for the preschool age, and with so many joyous voices, who could complain about a little movement?
The question is in the degree of said movement. As the first strains of the background music filled the room, my daughter started break-dancing. On the stage. The other kids were praising God, and mine was rocking out–wriggling, bopping, raising her hands, and strumming a mock guitar. She completely ignored my futile gestures to get out of the club and back into the church.
I swear I will wring the Man’s neck for teaching her to dance to Lady Gaga.
Mercifully, the program finally closed, and I pretended the Maiden actually belonged to the lady sitting next to me.
As I drove quickly away from the scene, something hit me. In a few months, the Maiden will have her first ballet recital. I’m not just apprehensive; I’m terrified. If she can turn church-based programs into comedy routines, what kind of damage will she do in a gold tutu and lion’s head? On a large stage? During a routine in which she is supposed to run and jump and pretend she’s a beast of the jungle?
I wonder if it’s too late to get a refund on the recital fee.