Friday, August 14, 2009

Not a Leg to Stand On


"Give me a LEFT LEG and be quick about it."

"I don't know what that is."

"Fine...a RIGHT LEG, a BIG TOE...something, anything with alcohol in it....I'm begging you, it's been a rough one."

My husband pops open a beer called FAT TIRE and I am so grateful I miss the hint.

"What happened?" He leans on the counter with an air of sympathy.

"I had to fire two of them. Two. God help me, I should be shot."

Dear Danny's/Russell's Parent,

After much consideration I have decided it's time to take Danny/Russell out of The Shakespeare Club for this year.

I'm very fond of Danny/Russell, but don't think he has the maturity level at this time to focus and take direction.

In other words, he's just too restless to be happy with the demands of producing a play and for those around him to do their work.

I think Danny/Russell might be better suited for the program when he's in fifth grade if indeed he still has an interest at that time.

He is a good boy and I'm very fond of him; this should not be held against his character.

Sincerely,
Mel Ryane

Four letters went out the previous day. Two home and two to their teachers. That was the easy part.

Sitting down with Danny and Russell privately was...well, sitting down with an eight-year-old to deliver bad news is never a good time.

"Danny, I think maybe The Shakespeare Club isn't really what you thought it might be. You might be happier kicking a soccer ball or climbing on the playground equipment. What d'ya think?"

He nodded and then his face clouded.

"My dad's gonna be mad cause I got kicked out."

"You didn't get 'kicked out' for bad behavior, Danny, and I've explained that in a letter to your parents. You're a good boy."

And I walked him back to class.

"Russell...."

His little hands curled the ends of his sweatshirt sleeves over his fists, ready to catch the tears dripping down his cheeks.

"But Ms. Ryane, I really do want to be in Shakespeare Club...I do."

His nose ran and I handed him tissues and the catch in the throat could've been coming from either of us and it was horrible, it was awful, and I felt like a gorgon.

"Russell...what do you think about being on the Props Crew? You could help make the fishes —"

"I wanted to play Malvolio!"

Now that's just not something you're going to hear from the mouth of a third-grader every day.

"I know, Russell. I know you did. I think we need to revisit you being in The Shakespeare Club maybe when you get to fourth or fifth grade."

"Henry got Malvolio."

"Yes, he did."

"I just got 'sailor'."

"That's true."

"But I want to do Shakespeare Club and now my mom's going to be really, really mad at me!"

"Your mom knows you're a good boy and so do I, Russell. And you're going to find a way, I know you are, to get control over your own body and that will be the time to audition again."

His big brown eyes were water-filled and the cuffs of his sweatshirt were soaked.

We stood outside of Russell's classroom door. I tilted his face up.

"It's going to be okay, Russell. Really, it's going to be okay."

"Yeah. I'm going to Kenya."

"You are? When?"

"In June. Me and my mom are going."

He said that with a final slurpy sniff.

"Russell, you're going to see amazing things and eat interesting food. You're going to have an adventure and please, please keep a journal. I would love to read that."

"Yeah."

Hug. Big-time. I needed it more than he did.


CHILDREN'S WRITES: A Journal Entry
Today was fun we got our parts. I get the part of the narrator. I have a lot of parts. Alice she has 56 parts because she has Olivia.
—Belinda, 4th grade

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