A few weeks ago, my daughters and I took another one of our frequent drives up Interstate 5 to have a four-day, action-packed visit with Grandpa, my sister and her kids and some of our family and friends. Our big Friday night outing was at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater watching “Annie.” (The show was great and the ice cream at intermission was fabulous – my girls are still talking about it!)
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The wonderful time we had that night also made me weepy, thanks to memories of performing there as a teen. But my eyes really starting filling up when my sister pointed out something during the Junior Company’s pre-show.
“Look at all the parents standing in the back,” she whispered. My gaze wandered from the stage to the back wall of the theatre, where all of the talented Junior Company’s parents stood against the back wall –watching and waiting. At your next Good Company Players show, take notice of the parents in the back.
There was a long line of them on this particular night and my mind immediately flashed back to all the carpooling, frantic pick-ups and drop-offs and makeshift “audiences” on my parents’ couch watching us rehearse our dances. Those activities kept my sister and I focused on our favorite extra-curricular activity (performing) as kids.
And then there was the waiting – so much waiting! – that my mom did. It was exactly what all of those parents against the wall on this night were in the middle of.
There is waiting to find out when you could audition.
Waiting to find out whether or not you made it into the show.
Waiting at the carpool line at school so your child can jump in, change clothes and smash a snack into their faces as you drive them to a rehearsal.
Waiting at that red light, near-cursing, because if that light didn’t turn green soon your child might be late to rehearsal and might not win favor to score that solo they’re working so hard on right now.
Waiting in the car for rehearsal to start (because you were early).
Waiting in the car for rehearsal to end (because it’s running late).
Waiting in the back of the theater for your daughter to finish her performance so you can get her home to start the rest of her homework.
Unless you’re a parent of a kid that performs, you might not know about all the waiting.
And then there are the nerves, the stress, the ongoing challenge to persevere when things get tough or disappointing, as they do in any given children’s activity. The emotional support these parents give to cope with the heartache that goes with the glamour often tends to turn into more drama than any sane person would ever willingly take on. J
Just ask my dad about stressing over sound systems across the Central Valley).
I can say all of this because I’ve now lived both sides of it – once as a child/teen performer and now as a parent of two budding dancers.
Since I often find myself waiting for my girls during dance lessons, I wanted to run up to all those parents against the back wall that night and give them a standing ovation while shouting “Bravo to YOU!”
All of those parents could’ve easily been elsewhere –out with their own friends and on their own “me-time.” But they were there. Waiting.
What they do is not easy, nor is it always fun, but it will be worth it.
I’m not suggesting every talented kid singing and dancing their heart out onstage that night at Roger Rocka’s will pursue or succeed in show business. But I’m hopeful the lessons those kids are learning about commitment, resilience, work ethic, stepping out of comfort zones and beyond will stick with and serve them well no matter what direction they go in their lives.
All thanks to those parents standing and waiting against the back wall of the theater (and in dance studios, sports fields, auditoriums and classrooms) several nights a week, for years at a time. Let’s give them an applause.
Jill Simonian was born and raised in Fresno and is creator of TheFabMom.com. Her book for pregnant moms, “The FAB Mom's Guide: How to Get Over the Bump & Bounce Back Fast After Baby'” is available now. Connect with her on Facebook and Instagram @jillsimonian.