Thursday, March 3, 2011


For about an hour on Tuesday and almost three hours on Wednesday I heard auditions for the high school musical and felt formidable.  Really, I'm a friendly person; I smile a lot. But it's hard to appear approachable to a teenager who has to perform a monologue and sing a solo in front of you and two other adults.  You throw a long shadow.

My own daughter, who absolutely blew everyone away with her rendition of "Take Me Or Leave Me" from Rent and got the lead in the show--the part she really wanted--said to her friends after the audition:
"There's nothing like an audition to melt away all of that brash cockiness the moment you take one look at a director's nightmarish 'listening attentively' expression."

We have a very good cast, and I have a new appreciation for the bravery of teenagers in a situation that, on some level, really doesn't demand bravery. I mean, it's not like it matters that much if a kid can sing in public!  It's like the bravery in this poem, Bedecked:

Tell me it's wrong the scarlet nails my son sports or the toy
store rings he clusters four jewels to each finger.

He's bedecked. I see the other mothers looking at the star
choker, the rhinestone strand he fastens over a sock.
Sometimes I help him find sparkle clip-ons when he says
sticker earrings look too fake.

Tell me I should teach him it's wrong to love the glitter that a
boy's only a boy who'd love a truck with a remote that revs,
battery slamming into corners or Hot Wheels loop-de-looping
off tracks into the tub.

Then tell me it's fine--really--maybe even a good thing--a boy
who's got some girl to him,
and I'm right for the days he wears a pink shirt on the seesaw in
the park.

Tell me what you need to tell me but keep far away from my son
who still loves a beautiful thing not for what it means--
this way or that--but for the way facets set off prisms and
prisms spin up everywhere

and from his own jeweled body he's cast rainbows--made every
shining true color.

Now try to tell me--man or woman--your heart was ever once
that brave.

Some kids have to be especially brave about being different.  I think that's a lot easier today than it was in the past, but it's still true that no matter what role you want to play, being a teenager and admitting that you have desires can take as much courage as anything else you work yourself up to for the rest of your life.


FreshHell said...

Was this poem written by David Bowie's mother? :) I very much hope Red acts in school plays in the future. She'll knock 'em dead, I tell ya.

Harriet said...

I like it and kind of wish I'd read it when AJ was little and begging me for sparkly shoes like the girl in his preschool class who wore a Dorothy costume to the Halloween party. Who's the author?

Jeanne said...

FreshHell, I think it must have been harder for Bowie's mom, but both my kids had a jewelry box when they were elementary-school age. (Sadly, middle school knocked the boy's love of jewelry out of him.)

Harriet, Victoria Redell. I always put the author on the label, but not always in the post if they're not that famous (and what poet is?)

Anonymous said...

Love the poem! And yay for your daughter being awesome! She's a braver woman than I. :p

Jeanne said...

Jenny, she's braver about singing in public, but she doesn't use her real name on the internets ;-)

Kailana said...

Congrats to your daughter on getting the lead! That's very exciting!

Jeanne said...

Kailana, it is exciting; it'll be fun to watch.

Jenners said...

I love the poem and the thoughts that you shared. And I think it is wonderful that your daughter blew them away. I think that it might be easier to be different than it was in the past but it still isn't a cakewalk.

Jeanne said...

Jenners, I think you're right. I was struck by how difficult it is to be any kind of teenager, let alone adding levels of difficulty.