5yo Drake and 3yo Guppy’s 8th-grade babysitter had one of the lead roles in her middle school’s production of West Side Story. Drake’s love of music runs deep, and he’s become enamored of musicals (Sound of Music) and music from Musicals (Mamma Mia! and “What a Piece of Work is Man” from Hair) so I thought I’d give it a shot.
It went well. Drake enjoyed the music, didn’t seem troubled that he couldn’t follow the story (a good thing in my book), and we sat behind the orchestra, so he got to see that as well. I gave him the option of leaving at intermission, but he wanted to stay. The kids in the play did a great job, and Drake sat through his first full-length musical. (Less winning were the grandparents behind me who talked at normal volume throughout and had to wrangle an 18mo toddler. But their other grandkid was in the play, and this was middle school, not the Guthrie, so I didn’t ask them to keep it down.)
Soon after, I saw a flyer for another local middle school’s production of Harry Allard and James Marshall’s Miss Nelson is Missing. Buoyed by my previous success, I thought it would be good for Drake and Guppy. The play itself would have been about an hour, which is what I expected. Alas, in the admirable spirit of including everybody who wants to participate, there were musical numbers between EVERY scene, so the show lasted two hours. At the end of the play, the last of its run, there were speeches, and thank yous. And more speeches. And more thanks yous. Finally I grabbed my kids and tried to make an exit.
Guppy was not on board with this plan. “I DON’T WANT TO LEAVE!” he screamed as I carried him out of the auditorium. He continued to scream, plus hit me, as we made our way through the school and outside. I put him down, he threw himself to the ground screaming and kicking. By this time the play was finally over. Playgoers streamed around us. I put him on his feet and dragged him resolutely to the car. He continued to cry and scream, and refused to get in his car seat. Mothers in the parking lot gave me sympathetic looks. Elderly people gave me dirty looks. Drake screamed because Guppy was screaming. I waited a few minutes, then wrestled Guppy into his seat. He screamed all the way home, where I handed him to G. Grod and said, “He needs a diaper. And he’s been crying for 30 minutes. I’m going to lie down.”
G got him quieted within minutes, so my frayed nerves and I could take a nap. But not before I swore off middle school musicals for a while.