Saturday, December 3, 2011

My little performers

My two and a half year old made her stage debut today! It was her school annual day and Tara played a little red fish in the school musical performance of The Rainbow Fish.

When I first heard that her school was planning an annual day, I didn't take it seriously at all. I thought it was just another show and tell kind of thing the school likes to do to keep parents happy. Her school is really big on the marketing front anyway, and I don't mind since I just ignore it for the most part. But when they sent me a circular saying the performance would be at a cultural center in the city in an auditorium and that I needed to deposit 800 bucks for a costume for her, I got pretty fussed about the whole thing. For one thing - 800 bucks for a fish costume? Really? I don't even buy her real clothes that cost that much. And knowing Tara (as I thought I did), I was pretty sure she would seriously injure anyone who tried to put her in a contraption that would make her look like a red fish.

But more importantly, I just didn't agree that a two and a half year old needed to be involved in anything that requires choreography and rehearsals and costumes. Why put her through that kind of stress? Don't we routinely ruin her days by doing terrible things like making her wear warm clothes in the winter, combing her unruly hair, putting her in tights that aren't tight enough, and asking her to wear shoes when she gets out of the house anyway? Why add to her troubles (and the troubles of all those within a 2km radius of her) by asking her to dress up as a fish and dance on a stage?

Besides, I couldn't see the objective of a stage performance for kids that age. What good could that possibly do for her? I can kind of see the point once they're Vir's age. When he had his school assembly and was Papa Bear, it really meant something to him. He was totally willing to put on a warm and fuzzy (and ugly) bear outfit and practice his lines because there was a sense of achievement to be had at the end of the beary hot event. Tara, on the other hand would have no clue what was going on. With this conviction, I went up to Tara's principal and asked her to remove Tara from the annual day performance and not expect her to show up on the day of the event. I can't describe the look the poor lady gave me. It was a mixture of distaste, disbelief, despair, and worry about the 800 bucks that I wouldn't be depositing and some other stuff only she could elaborate on. To her credit, she really tried to explain to me why she thought this whole event was a good idea. I stood my ground though and walked away feeling like I had really done a good job, taken a stand, stood up for my daughter's interests and other such. Damn the education system and all that I say.

So how did we get from there to today's performance? Howcome I'm writing about her stage debut when only a couple of weeks ago, I was seen walking out of the principal's office with a look of smug satisfaction on my face? Turns out Tara was really excited about the rehearsals in the school and just wouldn't be kept away. She did all the steps the teachers were practicing to perfection and was ever willing to show them off to us at home too. What's more - they had a dress rehearsal and Tara loved her red fish outfit. Her teacher call me to ask for my final decision on whether she would perform at the annual day or not. What could I do except chew my words and choke up 800 bucks?

Wouldn't you know it though, Tara turned out to be a complete natural on stage. Despite all initial misgivings, I was super excited to see her do her little dance and am proud to report that she was the best in her class. In fact in the whole school. No other kid swayed from side to side quite like she did and certainly no other kid could have looked cuter than my little red fish. Sad red fish who don't have beautiful scales because the Rainbow Fish just wouldn't share them don't come any cuter than this.

I could see her scanning the audience looking for us as she was dancing. When Vir ran up to a place where she could see him and called out, she called out to him and pointed but didn't even miss a beat or a step. She was busy making mental notes though, because when she finally met me after the performance, she looked at me accusingly and said "Vir mereko dekhne aaya....tu nahi aaya?" Little do you know little one that my eyes were on you every second of the way and that (though I'm really embarassed to confess) I even teared up at the thought of how much you've grown in just two and a half years.

Well, my eyes would have been on you and the rest of the play throughout had it not been for the diversion created by your big brother. Vir was so excited about the entire stage performance idea that he decided he needed to go up and contribute too. And the best thing to do, he thought, would be to tell a story. When he shared his intention with me, I, of course just laughed it off saying he could do that at his own school assembly. He was really serious though. So serious and so seriously hurt at being stopped that he spent the next 20  minutes howling loudly and uncontrollably that he wasn't being given his shot at fame. So there we were - Vijay and I - faced with yet another situation life had not prepared us for. One the one hand, a carefully prepped and choreographed school annual day complete with scripts and props and printed programs and harried teachers and nervous principal, and first row reserved for VIPs. On the other hand, a 5 year old kid who is taking it  very personally that he's not being allowed to show an audience of 250 people what he's really got and who might (we think) withdraw into a shell  if his talents were thwarted at this early age. What were a pair of insecure and unprepared parents to do?  Luckily for us, the principal opened up the stage to parents as part of her thank you address. We jumped at the opportunity, and requested her to let Vir have the stage for a while too. It was a little embarassing I must admit because this is the same principal, you might remember, from whose office I had been seen walking out with a look of smug satisfaction on my face not too long ago. Something about not wanting kids to perform on stage if I remember correctly.

Back to the point though. Vir got his chance. He wiped his tears, put on his game face and walked right up to the mic on stage under the spotlight in front of 250 people, took a deep breath and said, "Good morning parents. I will tell you the story of the Little Red Hen." And proceeded to narrate without a single fumble or error an entire story from beginning to the very end when all the farm animals were ready to eat the bread. It was at least 3-4 minutes of talk time and he was a pure natural through the whole thing. Vijay and I had no idea how to react. So we just sat back and watched our little boy do his thing!

Little red hen and little red fish - you surprise us every day and every day you make us proud! Of course, we're mostly totally unprepared for the stuff you throw at us, but in your defence, you never promised otherwise, did you?


Anonymous said...

And I teared up just reading you teared up whilst watching Tara on stage!

surendra said...

Just been through some of your writings. Enjoyed it and with write do well. Hopefully, it would develop into something more. Keep it up. Dad