Since second grade, Big Girl has been in many, many JCC musicals, camp productions, and at 8 or 9 years old produced the best Passover play you’ve ever seen. She rounded up about 12 kids in our living room for a staged reading complete with costumes. The best line? Yocheved says, “I can’t believe I’m putting my baby in the river in a basket.” Aaron (okay, he wasn’t on site in the original text, but this was midrash) answers, “Well, Mom, with or without the basket, he’s going in the river.”
Through it all, I’ve really never been a good stage mother. I never called Samara at the JCC to request that she get a really good part or to complain that she didn’t. I never let her wallow in self-pity when she got small parts. And until last year, I never brought her flowers for performances.
I was reminded of this while reading Marjorie Ingall’s article Upstaged on Tablet. She says that “I worry that our culture now tells kids they shouldn’t accept anything less than top billing.” And she’s right. And that’s exactly why I never brought her flowers.
DB or a grandma or a friend would tilt their head in concern that my daughter wouldn’t feel special after the show when everyone else in the 50-kid chorus got a big bouquet and she didn’t. And I’d just shrug, and say, “If she gets flowers now for being in the chorus, how will they be special when she finally has a lead?” I also thought that she would expect more and bigger play presents as her roles got bigger. So I bought ads in the playbill to say how proud we were, and then we all went out for ice cream after the show.
This spring Big Girl has a big part: she’s Gertrude McFuzz in Seussical at school. (Tickets are only $5, see her to buy ‘em.) She has a couple solo songs and is on stage a lot. For the performance, her mother will bring her flowers. But not roses. We’ll save those for her Broadway debut. She’s gotta have something to look forward to.