Friday, December 16, 2005

Anxiety, Anxiety

This has been a difficult week in our household. It all started with the coveted choir solos for the Kamiak Christmas concert. Four outstanding kids--two girls and two boys---are picked each year to sing solo excerpts from the Messiah. More often than not, these same kids win the big roles in the spring musical which is a huge deal in our community. Kaley was not picked for the alto solo and because she is a passionate, artistic, talented girl, everything is life or death with no in-betweens. It was death.

We had learned a couple of months ago that the spring musical was going to be "Grease"! Kaley, because of her looks and her abilities, has had her eye on the lead role of Sandy, portrayed by Olivia Newton John in the movie. Kaley was devastated when she did not get the Messiah solo because she thought that meant no lead in the spring musical. She saw Sandy flying out the window. This week--all week--have been auditions for the spring musical.

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cheri pearl photography

All of December I have understood the need for tranquilizers and maybe even the kind they give horses. I would have loved to have been put out of my misery. I have been on pins and needles and walking on egg shells around my daughter. I do not take pills; walking Apolo seems to do the trick for me though I have craved, on these long days waiting to hear how auditions were going, for a horse tranquilizer. One of the consequences of being an at-home parent is the tendency to get wrapped up in our children's lives. Most of the time this is a good thing except during audition week for the spring musical after the daughter did not get the Messiah solo.

My husband and I were not sure about Kaley's fixation on Sandy. Certainly, this is the female lead but there is another part in Grease that is challenging and meaty--the role of Betty Rizzo made famous by Stockard Channing. Yes, our daughter looks more like Olivia than Stockard but not only can our daughter sing, she's a hellavan actress with exquisite comic timing. And for some reason I do not understand, our innocent girl who has never even been kissed by a boy, seems to be able to play skanky, slutty flirts and prostitutes with complete ease. Kaley was a prostitute in Les Miserables, suggestive Kate in Pirates of Penzance, and she somehow managed in her voice recital to make the lead mother duck in Honk be sexy.

When we quietly asked what she thought about the part of Rizzo, we were met with, "Are you nuts! You guys don't know anything! I don't look like a Rizzo!" The second day of auditions narrowed things slightly and it became obvious to Kaley she was not being considered for the role of Sandy. Two of her friends who we could easily see as Sandy were the prospects. To Kaley this meant that not only did she not get the Messiah solo, she was probably not even going to be in the musical. Attempts by us to reassure her were unsuccessful and the tears flowed. She has believed all along that her friend, Jessica, was perfect for the part of Rizzo and not her. "Oh, this is my senior year and nothing is working out. This is supposed to be the time of my life and it is just a dud."

"Kaley, auditions are not over yet."

"Well, they might as well be. I thought my teachers liked me; I guess they don't think I can sing or act or do anything at all."

"Kaley, honey, this has been a good year. You have the lead in the winter play in January and you were voted "Most Likely to Become Famous" by the Senior Class. Not only that but you were picked to conduct the choir, including the huge "Carol of the Bells" sung by all of the choirs together. These things are nothing to sneeze at. Teachers like to spread things out. You can't be picked for everything."

"You guys are so stupid! Don't you realize the musical is most important of all to me? This is what I love. If I don't get into the musical, I might as well just give up on the plans for the rest of my life. I'm so screwed."

Horse tranquilizers! Please! For all three of us! Yesterday morning was another call back list but Kaley did not call me. It was completely excruciating not knowing what was going on and realizing I had to wait until 4:30 to get any information. I couldn't focus very well but I had some Arbitrations to work on, thankfully. Yes, this is just a high school musical but this is my daughter's reality; we want her to be happy so we can live with her in peace and harmony. Finally, at 4:20 she called me to come and pick her up. I could not read anything into her voice.

"I wasn't called back for anything. But I stayed to play the piano for them--all of the call backs."

"Oh?" I said very gently.

"Nobody was called back for Rizzo. So they have that one decided. They must have had that one decided all along because no one even sang for it. You know, Rizzo is kind of a show stealing type of role. She has just as many lines and songs as Sandy."

"So who would be Rizzo?"

"My friends say it must be me. I guess I nailed it yesterday when I read Rizzo's lines and adjusted my boobs. And they know how I can sing. But I thought I had the Messiah solo, too, and look how that worked out."

"You did wha....? Adjusted your wha...?" At that moment, Kaley did the line and performed her little maneuver and it was absolutely hysterical. My straight A student who wears "Jesus is my Home boy" t-shirts has learned how to work it. But we had to wait all last night and until this morning to know for sure because Kaley was either Rizzo or...I didn't want to think about it.

Kaley went to school this morning at 6:45; she was planning to call me one way or the other. By 7:25, I hadn't heard and I wanted a horse tranquilizer again. Coffee seems to aggravate anxiety, I have learned the hard way. The phone finally rings. This is going to be a good Christmas or...or.

"BETTY RIZZO--It's me!" Her choir teacher and her drama teacher knew it all along--probably even when they picked the musical months ago. One full week of auditions and our Kaley said two lines and sang one line and landed the role of a smoking, drinking gang leader who thinks she is pregnant.

We are so proud.

And I have aged 10 years in the last week.

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Kaley, age 11. Yep, a Pink Lady even then.