Love & Hate: I Love Watching My Kids Onstage

It’s that time of year again. From graduation ceremonies to ballet recitals to school showcases, our kids are being marched onto stages in droves.

Parents are doing their part. We arrive with our video cameras and crying little siblings in tow, ready to be entertained. And if the entertainment part doesn’t quite work out, that’s OK. We get to watch our darlings strut their stuff and accept their accolades.

The informal events at school often start with the inappropriate wave. The kids are told in advance not to wave at their parents. But we misbehaving parents can’t help ourselves. We have to make sure they can see us, right? So we wave like monkeys, trying to catch their attention. Sadly, sometimes they get in trouble when they wave back.

We must learn to behave.

I really do get that corny swelling of pride when my girls are performing. From Suzi being the only one to remember to do the hand gestures during the three songs at the recent Mother’s Day event (and milking it to every mom’s delight), to Patti’s graceful turn in her ballet recital, I really do get the warm mommy fuzzies watching them go.

Maybe it’s because they seem so impressive and mature up there. I mean, unless we are directing the show, these performances are usually learned and practiced completely outside of our realm of influence. The outcome is always such a pleasant surprise, even if it goes horribly wrong (and sometimes, that’s even more fun).

But I guess I have to admit that being the center of attention can also have its down side. Sometimes it brings out the prima donna in kids.

Our most memorable experience with unleashed diva-dom slammed us at Suzi’s summer Fame Camp performance. Knowing Suzi is always a delightful ham onstage, my husband Bill shot her every move on an expensive video camera, to save the whole experience for posterity. At the conclusion, when all the other parents and kids were hugging and high-fiving, Suzi came barreling off the stage screaming at Bill while sobbing uncontrollably. Heads turned as parents and kids wondered what we terrible parents could possibly have done to that cute little girl.

When we calmed her down and the sobs wracking her cute little body had subsided a bit, we got her to explain her hysteria. "Daddy (sob) wasn’t clapping (sob sob) for me! Waaaaahhhhh!"

"But honey," I said, trying to get innocent Bill off the hook. "Daddy was using both his hands to record your wonderful performance. He couldn’t clap."

"He didn’t clap for me!!!!!" she screeched, red-faced, in reply.

Oh, well. If you want to enjoy your diva onstage, I guess you have to put up with her backstage, too.


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