Well, last week was a bear. A big, mean, growly bear. But we made it through (mostly) unscathed.
Emily is a member of the advanced choir and a freshman cheerleader at her high school. And last week the choir had their spring Broadway production at the local theater, AND cheerleader tryouts were held at the school. Why these two things ended up scheduled the same week is beyond me, but it made for a very stressful 7 days at our house.
Emi came through it with flying colors, making the JV cheer squad, knocking her musical endeavors out of the park (she was fabulous!!!!) and even making an A on a math test. I wish I could tell you all of this was done effortlessly and without any stress or tears, but unfortunately there were plenty of both. Rehearsals for the show started Monday and ran through Wednesday from 5pm until 9:30 pm every night, with the show taking place Thursday and Friday nights. Cheer clinic started Wednesday right after school until 5pm and ran through Saturday with tryouts on Sunday afternoon. There was stress. And there were tears. But we lived through it.
For those of you not familiar with theater lingo, the Green Room is the room closest to the stage, where performers hang out just before entering the stage for their part of the show. There are usually couches, maybe a refrigerator, tables, and hopefully a bathroom nearby. In my teeny pea-brain, I thought I'd be calming nerves and encouraging the teen performers before they went onstage.
Au contraire mon frere!
Turns out, my job was to keep 60-70 teens quiet so they wouldn't disturb the performers who were already onstage. I was also responsible for keeping them from eating, using cell phones or leaving the building. For over 4 hours I did this, both for rehearsal, and then again for one night of the show. (Friday night I was able to watch the show from a seat in the audience, thank goodness.)
So I was shocked, to say the least, at the number of disrespectful kids in that Green Room last week. And I'm not talking about kids who are in gangs, or who skip school everyday to smoke behind the gym, or kids who are on drugs. I'm talking about cheerleaders. I'm talking about athletes. I'm talking about the kids who were "raised right." And it was these kids who, when I asked them to please whisper so as not to distract the other teens who were performing at that moment, they would look at me, then go right on talking even louder than before. Or, my favorite of the week, when I asked one particular girl to please "sshh" she rolled her eyes and said, "Whatever."
I have never wanted to rip hair out of a girl's head more than I did in that very moment.
Had that been my cheerleader (yes, she is a varsity cheerleader and I know her parents) she would have been dragged out of that building kicking and screaming, and lost every single privilege she has - TV, computer, phone, etc. - for at least a month. But for her, there were no consequences. Apparently , there never are consequences for this child or for several others in that group.
While studying for my master's degree, I learned a lot about patterns of behavior and how they are established. In order to teach a child the proper way to act, you should punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. Seems simple, right? Unfortunately, however, I have been witness to many a parent reward BAD behavior.
Let me offer an example: A mom is pushing a young child in a grocery buggy. The kid says he wants that toy, or candy, or whatever. The mom tells the child no. So the kid starts whining. The mom says no. The kid starts crying, and the mom threatens the child with a spanking if he doesn't stop crying. The kid throws a fit, and then, because she is embarrassed and wants the kid to stop screaming, SHE GIVES THE KID WHAT HE WANTS. This teaches the child that the louder he cries, the more likely he will get his way.
Several years later, when that same kid starts driving, they give the kid a car. The kid wrecks the car. The parents buy him another car. This time, the kid doesn't wreck it, but he doesn't take care of it, and somehow it ends up undrivable. Those parents will give that kid yet another vehicle. Why? Because it's easier for them to just buy him something else to keep him apeased, than to teach the kid consequences.
It's hard to discipline a kid. I hate grounding Emily, because when I ground her, I'm basically grounding myself, too. But I know that it is so important to teach her that for every action, there is a consequence. The value of hard work. The importance of telling the truth. I want her to be a grown woman with morals, values and integrity. And I do my best to set a good example for her. Unfortunately, far too few adults in her life and in the lives of other kids care about being a role model and teaching through example. It's too hard. It takes too much effort. And it makes me want to scream.
By the end of my time in the Green Room, most of the kids appreciated my being there. They understood that I wasn't trying to be mean. They understood my job was to protect those who were on the stage - to keep them from being distracted by noise offstage.
But there were still a few. A handful of kids who thought it was cool to be disrespectful. To ignore authority. To not give a rat's behind about "their friends" on the stage. Teenage jerks. What an absolute shame. These kids are talented, and could offer the world so much. Instead, they are self-centered and obnoxious. I pray that someday SOMETHING will straighten them out.
But for now, I am even more grateful for the wonderful child I have raised, and who now my husband is helping me to raise. And I am proud of the young woman she is becoming.
And if I make mention to any of you that I am thinking about volunteering for Green Room duty again next year, please chain me to my house and duct tape my mouth until the show is over.