This has not been a stellar week in the world of storytelling for me. I find myself wondering how children taste if you have the right recipe.
I also wonder about the administrators at some of these schools.
In the last two days, I’ve been hit by all of the things that make me question whether or not I am the best person to be in schools.
I have no patience.
I am annoyed when administration treats art experiences like a babysitting service.
I am disgusted when teachers spend time surfing the net on their phones during the set and then get upset with their kids when they don’t pay attention.
I am annoyed when they leave two special teachers in the room and everyone else leaves, thus encouraging the handful of really defiant kids all over the room to show their worst behavior without there being anybody there who really knows the best way to deal with them.
I hate having to enforce discipline from the stage because nobody is doing it and the kids around the disruptor are having trouble paying attention.
I really hate having to call out a kid who has Pokemon cards or a phone.
I hate seeing the preschoolers file into a show for 3 – 5th graders because they are going to sit and stare at me without a clue in the world about what is happening.
As I said, it has been a rough couple of days.
When things like this happen to me while I’m performing, I stop having fun. The only thing that saves the shows at this point is all of the training I’ve had over the years. I can get through a story and the kids enjoy it, but they are not getting the best of me, and my attitude by the end is hanging on by the skin of my proverbial teeth.
What happens when Murphy comes to visit me?
My usual fall back position after I leave a show where my body is in a knot because of the circumstances is to decide I was the biggest problem. Somehow, if I had just done SOMETHING different, that would have saved the whole thing. Placing it in my court makes me feel like there is something I can do to deal with the situation better the next time it happens and I start strategizing.
Despite my utter disgust at myself for not giving what I felt was the best possible experience to this school, the kids left saying…
You should be a comedian!
You are really funny!
I loved those stories!
When I’m this disappointed in the overall show, it is hard for me to hear those things. I am too annoyed at myself at not having done a better job at…SOMETHING.
First, I reach into my glove box and get a small piece of emergency chocolate. You can put what you want in your glovebox, I try to keep something decadent in there that I wouldn’t normally eat. I take a small piece. This prevents me from pulling into the next drive-thru I see and ordering a shake or some other thing I will instantly regret the second I’ve swilled it down.
I yell, complain, and generally pout out loud as I drive. He listens and talks me down off of whatever ledge I might be standing on at the moment. Then, he talks to me. He uses his “Baby, be calm” voice.
He tells me about his phone calls, meetings, contracts, politics he has seen, whatever thing the cats have been up to, and any news of our college-aged children he has been saving. He will even tell me dad jokes.
Whenever I am no longer homicidal, we get off the phone. I put on a playlist and drive home.
When I get here, I curate my little library.
I get on facebook and waste some time.
I play a couple of games.
I make myself some lovely tea.
This time of year I make a nice fire….even if it is sixty degrees outside.
And, if it is non-fiction Thursday, which it is, I have to try to write a blog post about something.
So, tomorrow I have another show. No matter how it goes, tomorrow is Friday, so there is that.
Oh, and for those of my friends who are worried that I am cracking, I had amazing shows last weekend and a practically sold out show at the Carolina Theatre last weekend.
It isn’t that I am fighting some huge uphill battle and debating the merits of my career.
No, I’m just having a few days when every audience I’ve seen makes me think I’m doing something wrong.
I think that it is important for artists to have these moments because they remind us that we are on a journey, not at a destination. We are not bulletproof, and we are often defined by the last audience we see!
So, tea, fire, and pampering tonight. Tomorrow? Kindergarten and first-grade audiences…at least, that’s what they booked. Who knows what it will be when I get there.
Murphy is with me this week. He’s a pain, but he doesn’t ever stay long.
Enjoy the journey…even the potholes. All of them teach us something.
Happy Telling –