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Stage Mom: Time to Be Quiet

My son is eleven years old and an aspiring actor. He has an excellent agent, who adores him and wants him to succeed. He’s had one audition so far, for the new Starkist Tuna ad, but didn’t get it. He was okay with it, I think. He turns off the TV whenever it comes on, which is quite often. But I know things are going to go better for him.

This past week, I got an email from his agency, asking his availability for two auditions. Two! In one week! I was more excited than he was. One of the auditions is on the day we’re supposed to come home from a short vacation trip to Florida. It would mean cutting our vacation short by a day. I think he was a bit disappointed by this, but I reminded him that any audition is important, even though we don’t have the details of what the audition is for. They are both being held in the Philadelphia area and we live just about a half-hour outside of Philadelphia, so it’s not a long trip for us. And I reminded him that even motion pictures have auditions in cities like Philadelphia. That got him a bit more excited. And I reminded him that most good actors go through forty auditions before landing a big part. (I read that somewhere.) Auditions give him experience in what to expect from directors or producers.

I don’t want to be a Stage Mom, the title given for the overbearing, “I know what’s best for my child” type of mom. I want to sit back and stay quiet and let Conor do his thing. If they like him, great. If they don’t, that’s okay too. Hundreds of children audition for parts each day and don’t get a part. It’s like a needle in a haystack, and I don’t want to do anything that will interfere with that process.

My biggest problem is school. My son had the flu early on in the school year and missed ten days of school. He’s had a few absences since. I wrote an email to his principal, explaining that Conor was an aspiring actor and may need to miss school for auditions, or, in the best scenario, a part in a show or movie. He said he understood and had dealt with kids who were actors before and that it would be no problem if Conor missed school, that they would have his schoolwork and homework for him before hand and, if he landed a role on a TV show or movie, there are on-set tutors and the kids get four hours of schoolwork each day. My son is a straight-A student and in the Talented and Gifted class. I just don’t want to have him pass up auditions for fear of retribution by the school.

I also want to sit back and bite my tongue. I know that some directors are gentle with kids, and others treat kids like little adults. My son doesn’t handle criticism that well yet. He’s going through puberty and his hormones are all over the place. At one moment he’s angry, and another he’s in tears. He’s a Christian child, and his faith is strong. I try to teach him to just listen to what people say, with a smile and no arguments. But he likes to argue, and will argue a point so vehemently, that I sometimes want to just give in. But I don’t. I tell him it’s non-negotiable. And he’ll mumble to himself for an hour afterwards, but he does listen. And his agent says that’s the best quality he has—he takes direction well. I sometimes wish that would translate better at home, when I have to tell him three or four times, or more, to do something as simple as picking up his video games that are scattered around the family room, or feed the pets.

So, if all goes well, Conor will miss two days of school next week for auditions. And then we’ll see where they lead. I asked him earlier this year, that if a role came up that was filming during the week he’s supposed to go to Space Camp, if he’d rather skip the role and go to Space Camp, or cancel Space Camp and do the part. “I’d do the part, Mom!” he exclaimed, as if I had two heads. I just wanted to see how committed he was to acting. And apparently, he’s committed, which means I am too. My husband works full-time, and I am on disability, so I would be the parent accompanying him during a role. I have to admit that I like this arrangement. I’ll get to get away from the day-to-day routine and see a new place, and experience what it’s like to be on a television set or a movie set. My husband will be stuck at home, working and taking care of the pets and house. I think I’ve made out better. I’m starting school April 26th for a BA in Christian Studies via an on-line degree program, so I’ll have plenty to do while Conor is working. I think I can do both, but, again, we’ll wait and see.

The waiting is the hardest part of anything. We waited for Conor to be born, and I was in labor for seventy-nine hours. He was born at thirty-three weeks and the doctors wanted to give him as much extra time as they could. And he was born without any major problems. So I can wait to hear about a role, or even an audition. I’m not going to be a Stage Mom. Even if I have to bite my tongue in half!

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