Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Cut

A couple weeks ago Bethany and her friend auditioned for the school talent show together. The try-outs were held after school, and there was quite a crowd gathered to watch. They sang...not lip synced but truly sang, and they did such a great job I was absolutely glowing. The next day the list of those who made it was posted, and Bethany and her friend were not on the list. There were lots and lots of tears. Oh my girl was bitterly disappointed. Of course we told her how proud we were for her effort and hard work and sheer guts to get up and sing in front of lots of people, and just for trying. But it hurt, for her and for us.

Bethany is in fourth grade, and she does not attend a performing arts school; just a regular old public elementary school. Which is why I have a bit of a problem with the way the school handles their annual talent show. I think it is somehow sending these kids the wrong idea. If they have the courage and the desire to get up on a stage and perform, shouldn't they be given that chance? Because if they don't make the cut, in the safety of the elementary school environment, might their spirits be broken? Might they give up and, maybe out of embarrassment or a feeling of failure or humiliation, never try again? I don't like it. If you can't make the elementary school talent show, are you going to try out for the middle school play, even if you really want to? A certain kind of kid would not. A kid like I was, for instance. But maybe giving anyone who wants to the chance to be in the show would give those kids who choose to participate a little boost of confidence that might encourage them to try other things too. What is the benefit of squashing that desire and confidence in so many kids, other than a shorter talent show?

There is more to the story. Like that there was a "no exception" deadline for the talent show audition permission slips to be turned in, yet an exception was made on the day of try-outs, and the girl whose mother complained and whined enough (I can only presume) to get the powers that be to ignore the "no exception" part of the deadline tried out and got in. And that my daughter and her friend were the next in line to make the cut (they go by a points system with judges), so they were in effect booted by the rule breaker. By the way, the kids had weeks to get their permission slips in. Weeks. Yet because this young lady had a dentist appointment (so I've heard) on the last day the slips were to be accepted, an exception was made. I'm not sure what her excuse was for not having turned it in prior to that day.

So we have another great lesson for our kids. Ignore deadlines and due dates. Why not?

This particular story does have a happy ending, because Bethany came home from school the other day bursting with the news that someone dropped out of the show, so she and her friend are now in. Of course they now have about two weeks less practice time than the other participants, but nonetheless they are thrilled. And I am happy for them but I'm still feeling odd about this talent show by try-out in elementary school. Maybe I'm crazy. I don't know. I didn't post anything about this before because I didn't want to seem bitter just because my kid didn't make it, but now she did make it. Make of it what you will.

*Disclaimer: I don't begrudge the rule-breaker her chance to be in the talent show too. I just A) don't understand the whole trying out thing, and B) don't understand the point of handing out permission slips that clearly state that there will be "no exceptions" to the due date if you are actually willing to disregard the due date.

No comments: