Friday, July 2, 2010

Moving/Not Moving/Moving



It took months of meetings before we actually had full attendance in the Shakespeare Club this year, and my irritability in this regard could not be underestimated. I was showing up every week — for free, by the way — but parents and guardians appeared to think it was A-OK for their kids to miss rehearsals for parties, birthdays or whatnot.

Every year this happens and every year I go into buried files, yank out the "commitment" letter, lick up twenty envelopes and send the suckers out.

This year I added a bonus: My husband is working out of town for five months and I would love to join him, but I made a commitment to the Shakespeare Club.

I smeared on the guilt like a great spoonful of peanut butter.

I'd be interested to know if this happens with baseball practice, hockey practice and basketball practice. Do sportskids' parents have to be reminded of the importance of attendance? If so, then I won't take it personally.

Oh, what am I saying? I'll always take it personally and it'll always have me steaming.

One Wednesday in April, after counting up the group, I looked at them in shock and said, "Everyone's here. Amazing. Let's go to work."

We started in at the top and made progress by zipping along, until Macduff provided a dead stop. Dominick entirely abandoned his character center-stage, tiptoed to my chair, and in a great conspiratorial gesture, leaned in toward my ear.

"We're moving," he rasped.

"What?" I whispered back.

"We're moving. I can't be in Shakespeare Club next year."

"Okay, sorry to hear that but we're in the middle of your 'family's all dead' scene."

"Yeah."

And he scooted back to his place to pick up the action.

This is another "happens every year" event I'm only beginning to catch on to. Kids wield more drama than the complete works of William Shakespeare. They love to startle me with news. They pick up on snippets of conversations at home and then deliver them to me as facts.

Two meetings later, when we were — again — in the middle of a Macduff scene, Dominick pulled the same move and I — again — fell for it.

"Ms. Ryane!" He got my attention with his loud whisper and because he was right up close to my chair.

"What is it, Dominick?"

"I'm not moving."

"What do you mean?" I thought he was protesting a blocking choice.

"I'm not moving! I can do Shakespeare Club next year!"

"Wow, good news but you're supposed to kill Macbeth right now...and also, you have to audition next year, don't forget."

"Okay!"

I later talked to Dominick's dad.

"It's true, we were supposed to move but we're going to delay until Dominick finishes fifth grade here. The truth is, nothing we've tried in Dominick's life has had a more positive effect than his being in Shakespeare Club. Nothing."

At the beginning, Dominick checked out and hid under his hoodie. At the beginning, he bugged the kids near him. At the beginning, he threatened to miss meetings and spread rumors that he was quitting.

Yet...he's never missed a single meeting. He's fully present and encourages other kids to focus during warm-ups and rehearsals. Dominick has found his gold.

And it's a balm on my grouchiness.


CHILDREN'S WRITES: A Journal Entry
Lady Macbeth's Biography

I am Lady Macbeth. I have a husband who's gone off to war. Since I have no children, my only companion is my horse, Chestnut. I like to eat pie, cheese, chicken, crossaints, potatoes and other veggies, fruits, meats, and dairy products, and hot pockets. I love to drink ale and milk.

I wear blue laces dresses with cotton gloves made by the finest glover in Scotland. My shoes have pure gold shavings and pure silver details on them -also made by the finest shoemaker in Scotland.

My house is very clean and orginized. The furniture is velvet with gold and silver embroidery.
Darby, 5th grade

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