It was my fault. I didn’t read the email carefully enough. In my defense, my husband came to the same conclusion I did: it would be a fun event where the kids would meet a paleontologist and tour the lot. This sounded like just the event for Zachary, who has determined he wants to be a paleontologist. And an ice cream man. It was clear that the kids would be getting filmed for the live-action portion of a new children’s show, but somehow I thought that the filming would take place while meeting the paleontologist. I thought it would be no big deal.
Instead, we showed up for what was basically a casting call, albeit a low-pressure one in which all the kids got a turn to act.
Zachary and I were among the first to arrive, so we waited in a pleasant courtyard with twenty-nine other kids. He colored a couple of pictures and stuffed his face with Goldfish, but then there wasn’t much else left to do. We’d been there forty-five minutes when, all of a sudden, four kids were being ushered in for hair and makeup. Four kids who had arrived after we did.
You know I said something, right? And, even if the staff probably thought I was a pushy mama, at least Zach was in the next group to enter, after a rousing game of tag with a little girl who had driven up all the way from San Diego.
Hair and makeup, thank heaven, was an abbreviated affair, and we were headed into the television studio. Zachary, you must understand, is terribly mature and great at following directions. Jumping into new situations without any idea of what’s going on? Not so much his thing. I hadn’t explained a damned thing in advance because I had absolutely no idea what was going on. Which made two of us. I found myself with twenty seconds to point out a few lights and cameras and tell Zach what they were before he was led in front of the cameras with three other kids.
The whole thing was starting to seem like a very bad idea.
Then, the director asked them if they knew what a Venus Flytrap was, and Zach’s hand shot up. “Ooo, I do. It’s a plant that snatches bugs and eats them,” he answered, making the appropriate motions with his hands. The director must have thought he had a live wire here, just as I thought my son had skipped right over the Anxiety and Overwhelmed portions of the program.
Um, not so much. The other three kids leaped up to try the lines first, so Zach was last. And the director changed the line once he got to Zach, who looked right at the camera, just as he had been told. And delivered the lines, just as he had been told. Completely deadpan.
“He’s terrified,” the director said. From the back of the studio, far from my baby, I silently thanked him for noticing.
He did loosen up a little, and I was proud of him for simply pushing forward and gamely giving it a shot, even though he had no idea what the hell was happening. Near the end, when he had to impersonate a bug flying into a Venus Flytrap, he seemed to actually be enjoying himself. The little boy playing the Venus Flytrap, unfortunately, kept forgetting to turn and smile at the camera at the end, so they retook the shot about six times.
I learned a few things. I figured out that Zach would like acting, once he figures out what the fuck is going on. I discovered that I, however, do not have the makings of a stage mama, because the whole thing flabbergasted me, and this was a rather benign casting call for an educational kids’ show with very nice, non-slimy children’s television people. And I realized that there are an awful lot of parents who willingly wait around for hours with their kids just for the honor of a few seconds on a television screen.
I also learned to read my emails more carefully.
On the way out of the studio, when we were supposed to be rushing out and thanking the staff for giving us this opportunity, I carried Zachary past the back table. “Are you the paleontologist?” I asked, not giving two shits whether they wanted me out of the place. “He came today just to meet you.” Bless that man’s heart, he came over and talked to my little man, assuring him there were plenty of dinosaurs left to be discovered.
We will be watching the show when it comes out this fall, because the DVD they gave us has already captivated my kids and taught them important words like “herbivore.” When your three-year-old knows what Triceratops likes to eat, you know the show is doing its job. And we will watch because my kid wants to see himself on TV. And we will watch because of the dude who, despite being the star of the television show, was a mensch who took the time to talk to Zach about his career aspirations.
That night, when Zachary was asked the best part of his day, he declared it was getting his usual toast with butter for dinner. Oh, and meeting a paleontologist.
As is probably pretty clear from this post, which is not, I fear, what the show organizers had in mind when they invited bloggers to come to the event, I have taken the pledge. It is very important to me, and I will write a post on it soon. Once I get the badge up. Once someone explains to me, AS THOUGH I WERE A FOUR-YEAR-OLD, exactly how to put a badge up on my blog. Please, take pity on a Luddite, people, and tell me how to post a badge on a wordpress blog.