Sorry, but your kid is NOT THAT SPECIAL

I spent the last month working on the elementary school's musical theater club production of Annie Jr. Maggie got a part in it, and I figured I'd use my new sewing skills to help. I joined the Costume Committee, which Jose laughingly called the Fashion Club, and I made costumes and ended up helping hopeless boys get dressed. The two main take-aways for me are that my daughter is talented and better than all other children and that other parents totally suck.

My friend Vicki and I made matching caps, aprons, and vests for Warbucks's servants and we repurposed and reworked old tunics from Aesops's Fables into dresses for orphans. In a moment of questionable planning on the part of the play director, the vests and aprons were all the same size, while there is a surprising variability in the size of 10-year-olds. The four or five kids who are overweight--cough, cough, excuse me, "husky"--were particularly problematic. I'm stuck between not wanting to fat-shame them and shaking my head sadly that their parents have destined them to lifelong obesity and the social and health problems that entails. (I also find it curious that two of the plus-sized kids are lactose-intolerant. I would have assumed that having a significant dietary restriction would lead to being underweight, but that shows what I know.) But heaven forbid we should mention that the reason the fourth-grader can't keep his shirt tucked into pants that are pulled up is because he has a beer gut that would look more normal on a 45-year-old, chain-smoking construction worker.

"Can You Help Me?"

The most shocking thing to me, though, was the helplessness of the boys. The first week of kindergarten, Antonio's teacher sent home a note asking that children know how to tie their own shoes and button their own clothes because if they didn't, she could spend all day doing just that for 30 kids. So I made sure Antonio knew how to do those things. It seems that most everyone else just bought slip on shoes and pull-on clothes for their boys because by fourth and fifth grade, most of the boys in the play were still struggling with buttoning a dress shirt. They get a pass for not knowing how to put on suspenders or make a half-Windsor knot, but unable to button a shirt or tie shoes? At 10? Are you kidding me?

Theater Moms

"My kid has a line. She's a STAR!"

No. No, she's not.

There are a few girls and one boy who are clearly little stars. Jennifer, the two Laurens, and Ricky are fantastic. Anna, Ella, and Heather are great. Sean is a rock-solid actor, even if he has no real singing voice.

And of course, my Maggie is perfect. I didn't know until now that she has a beautiful singing voice, and she hit her lines and marks perfectly every time. That part really is objective. But whenever Maggie was on stage, she was all I looked at...because she's mine. It was the same when she was just poultry and a froglet in Honk Jr., and that's how it should be. I'm her mom. But that didn't make her the star of either show.

And your funny-looking kid with the one line and a walk-on in a crowd scene isn't a rising star and won't be going to Broadway. Sorry. Love her anyway...just because she's yours.

Oh, the Weeping, the Weeping

During rehearsals, the girls were evidently fighting over the pile of hats, coats, and purses for the quick walk across the stage during the NYC crowd scene. One broke down in tears because Annie's coat got misplaced, so the stage hands grabbed hers and the extra was left coatless and missed her walk across. Eye roll. (More on this later.)

Another girl cried because she walked behind the stage during a performance, which they weren't supposed to do, and unplugged the Christmas tree. (More on this later.)

Another girl cried during the cast party because she wasn't in the edible picture on the cake. I mean, she cried like her dog got run over by a bus...for half an hour...because she was absent the day they took the group picture.

Another girl didn't cry, but she told me FOUR times in the middle of a performance that a prop was missing--a prop they had finished using and wouldn't need until the next performance. Get a grip and we'll find it between shows! This is NOT the right time.

It's the Children's Drama Club, Moms

You can almost forgive the girls for crying. They're 9 and 10 and are supposed to be emotionally immature. The moms, on the other hand...

This Is Why The Children Have Assigned Seats on the Bus

I spent probably 40 hours working on costumes, organizing, and dressing the kids. I figured that my long hours had earned me a seat near the front during my daughter's performance. (The FRONT row was auctioned off to raise money for the production costs. Fine. Theater club ain't cheap.) The night of Maggie's performance, I took her to school quite early in order to be able to ride herd over the hapless boys, and so I had the chance to drop off my purse in the second row seats that I wanted. No problem, right?

Well, the next day, Jose wanted to see it again so he could make a short video. I again arrived very early, this time to work officially. Some other moms came in and dropped their shit off in "my" seat. Someone else--not me--complained to the director, and she told the waiting parents that they had to move their stuff. Well. SOME did, and I got a seat for Jose in the second row.

But one set of SuperSize moms passive-aggressively refused to move their crap. They felt that selling tickets for half an hour rated them whatever seats THEY wanted. I had done the same thing, except with more hours logged, so I couldn't complain too much. But the shitstorm it caused....

Someone complained to the music director, who said the program clearly stated there were NO reserved seats, which contradicted the play director telling the ever-present moms that we could save some seats. The SuperSizes threatened to leave. (Yeah, right.) The other moms got irate at the audacity. I was frankly a little surprised they were so stubborn, but their precious little ones had one line, one line, and no lines, respectively, that they just HAD to see up close.

And at the next performance, they barged in to claim the FRONT row seats they had paid for, and literally tossed a woman's purse from a chair onto the floor because they wanted the whole right side for their group, then they moved a chair from the left to the right side when they discovered they couldn't count.

Oh, the outraged tittering! If they had all been just a little more trashy, I'm sure there would have been an outright brawl. Instead we got lots of, "OMG, who DOES that???"

High Maintenance Moms Make High Maintenance Kids

Back to the girl who cried because her coat was snagged for...um...the star of the show. To mollify the wailing mess, her mom labeled a box backstage for just HER coat so that after she surrendered her wireless microphone after saying her ONE line, she didn't have to...open the stage door to get her coat off the rack just on the other side of the door.

This same woman spent ten minutes telling us about how the bakery had screwed up her cake order. Her husband had texted her a picture when he picked it up because he knew she would have an opinion and he didn't want to be the target of her ire for failing to get her approval before bringing it home.

"The cake had SPRINKLES, and I specifically said NO SPRINKLES!" You'd think they had put frogspawn on the damn thing from the way she said "sprinkles." The dad handed his phone to the baker, who got an earful before agreeing to redecorate the cake and charge them a quarter of its original price. I thought it was a standard, slightly ugly sheet cake even after the redecoration, but I wisely kept my opinion to myself because she seemed so proud of herself.

"OMG, It's SOOO Hot Backstage"

Speaking of high maintenance, midway through the evening performance during which I was managing the costume changes, a girl came out of the stage door complaining that she was too hot. I knew it was hot backstage, and at first, I was afraid she was going to pass out. She was sweating and red-faced, and I sat her down and loosened her collar. Someone brought her a bottle of water, and I went to look for the nurse to see if we could get an ice pack for her neck. She didn't seem to be getting better and it was still pretty warm in the hallway, so I took her outside into the cool night air. She missed the NYC walk-on as we spent 40 minutes of this nonsense.

Somewhere in the middle, I got fed up. EVERYBODY was hot backstage. The orphans were wearing four layers of clothes. The boys were in three piece suits. SUCK IT UP, child.

She tried to go back to appear in the last scene, but since she had missed the NYC walk-on, she wasn't in the correct wing. She tried to cross behind the back curtain...and as I mentioned above, she tripped over the Christmas tree cord and unplugged the lights, then came out from backstage crying about it.

Turns out that she and her mother were in the group that went to IHOP after the play for dinner. While I discreetly used my phone to get the carb count for my diabetic daughter's meal, then quietly told her so she could enter it in her pump, this woman felt the need to announce to the whole restaurant that her daughter is lactose intolerant and no, she can't have even jack cheese in her omelet. If Maggie and I can manage my kid's life-threatening condition without anybody at our table noticing, you should be able to keep your kid's bloating and diarrhea to yourselves.

There are few children at school who have as real and pressing a "special need" as my daughter. It is NOT something to be desired, so would you all please stop trying to make the world bend around you and your darling little brats?

Your kid is NOT THAT SPECIAL. Even if she isn't the prettiest, doesn't need a special diet, isn't the star of the show, she is YOURS, and she should be the center of YOUR world. And that's perfectly OK.

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