About Me

I am an insane human being. I have been a wife for 15 plus years, and a mom for almost as long. I had 3 children early on...then struggled with life and IF and loss for 8 years. Thought our family was complete, so I compensated by adopting all the shelter pets. Then we were surprised that our luck changed. Our running total is Parents: 2, Kids: 5, Pets:4. My life is far from perfect, and much of our happiness was hard fought and won, from the death of a parent, job loss and marriage troubles, miscarriage and IF, we have been through it all, and dare I say we made it, with a lot of love and laughter, and not taking ourselves too seriously.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Micro-Blog Monday: We Let her quit

We let my teenage daughter drop out of her school's production of the spring play Less than 2 weeks before opening night. I know a lot of people wouldn't agree with that choice and instead make their kids finish out their commitment. I will admit I was really torn between forcing her to stay and letting her quit.

She is a freshman, coming from a middle school experience that didn't afford her a lot of good friends or opportunities to spread her wings. Because of this, she wants to try and do everything, which we don't let her do. But she's also a kid with a fantasy of how things are going to be versus how they really are. Try as I may to talk to her and explain situations, I'm only her mom so I don't really know what I'm talking about and everything I say is just stupid and off-base.

The drama club at her school is serious business. Contracts for students and parents alike to sign, production fees to be paid by every member of the cast and crew, mandatory practices, build days, costume days, and tech week that are 12 hours plus (which I am not even sure the legality in enforcing because minors are limited in amount of paid hours they can work, and this is not even paid work) that every member of the production must adhere to, no matter how big or small your role. It's a little sad because it discourages kids that just want to do it for fun as opposed to kids who want to actually have any of this as some sort of career, and cast are supposed to purchase their own costumes and expensive stage makeup. It's really a racket. Parents are also required to put in a required number of volunteer hours as well. Tickets cost $15 a piece. So there is an extreme amount of time and money required for all involved. You were only allowed to miss one practice for any reason (even illness) and then you were given strict warnings.

Cast also have to keep their grades way up, even during the weeks where practices run from after school until 10pm or later and are mandatory for all involved. The stress was building on my teen, even with us letting her off the hook on her chores and responsibilities at home. When she got the email last week about the next 2 weeks of mandatory 12 hours days and the request for volunteers to stay beyond that for various things, and reading that on performance days you were required to be there the ENTIRE day, meaning more 12 hours days, and between weekend shows you were required to stay at school and not leave campus for any reason she had a total breakdown. She skipped practice and came straight home in tears. Talked to me about everything, she had been thinking and feeling for weeks now. Explained how it was taking something she loved to do and making it the most hated thing ever, keeping her stomach in knots. The director, who is also the drama teacher, turning into a complete Medusa yelling at people about "how behind" they were. My daughter also told me how she needed to get a peer tutor for one of her classes but couldn't because of the play and the practices, and was so upset and stressed couldn't even concentrate in class.

My child cried as if the weight of the world were on her shoulders. I calmly explained that she needed to take a breath and realize that in the grand scheme of things, this decision was small potatos. That it was a highschool play production, and her decision wasn't going to end anyone's life or blow up a country. Sure they might have to shift people around, but she was part of a side ensemble and had no speaking part. She didn't know that it was okay to say it was all too much. She actually was pushing my buttons extra hard and acting out hoping I would pull her out myself, as part of her agreement to us allowing her to sign up was that her home behavior be on the straight and narrow.

We let her quit because as important as it is to follow through on your word and what you sign up and agree to do, it is equally important to be able to recognize and acknowledge when you are in over your head and can't handle something, and ask for help or back out when you need to. She also needed to realize that she could talk to us even if she thought we would be mad or upset with her or not support her decision or validate her feelings. She needed to have this happen.

She also needed to step outside and see how some of the other drama girls reacted to her news, making it all about them and how HER decision affected THEM instead of immediately supporting her and her needs. She was rather surprised by that.

Sometimes quitting isn't the easy way out after all.

8 comments:

  1. That type of schedule is insane!! When I was in band, I thought practices after school was bad night after night. Those ended at 5 / 5:30pm when your parents came to pick you up. I couldn't let my child stay at school til 10pm. Something should be said about that!

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    1. See my reply below from Jess' comment. I am wondering how many people will complain and if this will change things for next year at all.

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  2. That is really too bad that the schedule and demands are so intense...like you said, if you want to explore drama and get into something new that would totally discourage you from doing it (or send you into a sea of overwhelmed drowning). I think it's a great lesson to learn to say no, to duck out if something becomes way too much. I love how you talked through all the ramifications with her and helped her make sense of the situation and her decision. I did drama in high school and don't remember it being such a crazy intense production... I hope this isn't the way extracurriculars have gone. :(

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    1. So I am hearing from everyone around our age that they never had these types of demands on them in highschool. I am also hearing from people with kids recently in highschool that this isn't the norm in other schools in the area. In fact, according to some fellow students at my daughter's school, they previously had a much more laid back director where things were a lot different. I am wondering if things will change next year, if anything gets said this time around.

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  3. 12 hour days? Uh, hell no. I would have let her (or even encouraged her) to quit, too. That's ridiculous! When are they supposed to do homework?!

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    1. They were apparently given the first 39 minutes of practice to do homework and study. No idea who thinks that is enough one, as so many of the kids are in AP college level classes.

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  4. This is the line that got to me: "Explained how it was taking something she loved to do and making it the most hated thing ever, keeping her stomach in knots." In the professional world, sure. But in the high school world, there should be quality but not as the expense of making it a learning experience and a bonding experience.

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  5. I'm so glad that you let her do this! My students have been accustomed to doing everything they're supposed to do, so much so that they don't know how to say no, or how to fail, or how to adjust. In the end, learning how to cope with a challenge like this will make her a more successful student and adult!

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