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One-Track 6yo Mind

Since my kids saw my show, Head Over Heels, (as shown in the above picture…which is terrible because it’s a screen shot from a boomerang we made at the theatre and we’re all in motion…but oh, well) our meals often follow an obsessive trajectory…

Daddy?

Yeah?

How many times did Peppermint change her wig in your show? (*Peppermint is one of the principals in our show, originally made famous by her appearance, last year, in RuPaul’s Drag Race.)

Um, three. No, four. Please chew with your mouth shut.

But Daddy? Did she change the wig herself, or did she have help?

She had help. Please stop kicking the table leg.

But how many people help her with her wigs?

I dunno. Um…two?

She has two people helping her with her wigs?

Sometimes. Please chew with your mouth shut.

(Chews for a little bit. Younger brother stares at both of us wondering how he ended up in this insane family of a drag queen-obsessed 6 ½ year old and an illogically-annoyed father.)

Daddy?

Hm?

What if both of your characters are sick? (* I am a “standby” in the show, meaning I cover two of the principals. My stage presence is contingent upon laryngitis and twisted ankles. AND I’m the only cover for two actors…which is slightly worrisome, especially for my own kid.)

Honestly? I’m not sure, buddy.

Well, what if just you’re sick?

It’s alright, buddy. As long as the principals I cover aren’t sick. In that case, well, don’t worry about it. But please don’t shovel your food into your mouth.

But what if Peppermint and the people you cover and all the standbys are sick?

Then we would have a big problem and probably cancel the show.

CANCEL THE SHOW?!?

Yes, buddy, they might. Please chew with your mouth closed.

Daddy? You remember Peppermint’s finger nails?

How on earth do you remember her nails in the show?

Because they were amazing.

You’ve seen the show once.

And Daddy?

Please chew with your mouth closed. What?

If I wore a wig and you and Tatty helped me put it on, then I would have two people helping me with my wig just like Peppermint!

Yes, you would. Please stop kicking the table. And buddy?

What? (His mouth full of meatball.)

If you had seven people helping with your wig, how many would you have, all together?

Stops and looks at ceiling while I take a moment to check in with the little peanut.

You OK, buddy? (To my younger son.)

He gives a single, affirmative nod.

Eleven!

No. But thank you for finally stopping kicking the table.

Ten!

No.

Eight!

Buddy, the food in your mouth.

Seven?

Now, you’re just guessing.

Five!

Let’s stop and think about it. If you had two and then another seven?

Six!

Hold two in your head…

Daddy! Stop! Just tell me.

Gosh, I don’t know it. Please stop kicking the table.

Nine!

Good. Do you know how you got that number?

Yes.

Really?

Uh-huh.

I’m not buying it,but…Buddy! Please. Stop chewing with your mouth open.

Daddy?

Yeah?

I know what my birthday party should be!

Oh?

A Peppermint party!

Wow. That’s…um…different from your African Savannah theme.

Yeah. We can all wear wigs and make-up.

Buddy? Please stop chewing with your mouth open.

And that is how a simple dinner focused on badgering my son to chew with his mouth closed turned into the inspiration for him to have a drag queen themed 7th birthday party.

Screwing Social Obligations

It’s easily assumed I’m outgoing. I’ve a reputation for wanting to be the life of the party. For a significant portion of my youth, I thought I neededto be the life of the party so much so that if I wasn’t in full form, people would say, “are you ok?”

With that assumption came my own self-expectation: I need to be the outgoing one helping parties thrive.

And then I got older.

During an end-of-year party in my kid’s 1stgrade class, a friend muttered to me, “I loathe these things. The frenzied energy of the parents, the temperature in the room, the kids are over-whelmed, our own expectations for throwing a party for the kids and yet we have to get in and out in forty minutes. It’s awful.”

And this guy, whom I consider perfectly at-ease in public, made me realize: “Oh my God. I hate these things, too.”

At my 40thbirthday, my partner asked what I wanted to do and how many dozens of people I wanted to invite, and I realized, “You know? I just want to have a dinner party with my closest friends. And no more than that. Just like…a few super close friends.”

Most of the birthday parties my kid has been invited to, this year, have been met with protestations. “I don’t wantto go to that party!”

“But buddy, it’s your friends and there’ll be pizza and cupcakes!”

“I don’t care.”

“What do you want to do?”

“Stay home.”

Eye roll. (My own.)

Part of me thinks this is his anxiety about being in uncomfortable circles where there might be different kids and he’s insecure in a dress. But I’m probably projecting that.

My instinct is to say, “Life’s tough, kid. You gotta be in new circles. You can’t avoid it all.” And every single time he attended one of these birthday parties, he had a great time.

But toward the end of the year, I started to pull my head out of my ass and gave some real consideration to the fact that going to parties is notalways fun. Structured birthday parties aren’t always great, even if the cake rocks. The screaming, the waiting for your turn to hit a piñata, the other kids melting down, etc. It’s not that fun. Even for a six year-old.

And I think I’m taking us all out of contention for “life of the party”. Because that is such a tiresome role to play. Just…be yourself. Don’t fulfill perceived social pressures.

That’s a lot different when you’re 6 rather than 26. But still.

I spent so much energy needing to be the person I felt others expected of me. Now, my extroverted part needs heavybalance from my introversion. The older I get, the more I really just wanna be home alone. And I love it.

I love the occasional raucous night out. Love that, too.

And I looooove binge-watching Orange is the New Black. (Ohmigod, you guys, have you finished the last season? What a powerful final few scenes.)

I’m gonna do a better job letting my kids find their own social comfort station.

If they feel like being outgoing, so be it.

And sometimes there are obligations to fulfill. Life’s easier if you can perform when need be…occasionally.

But knowing limits is important, too.

 

 

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Just Trust Me

So I’m in a new Broadway show, Head Over Heels, and I’ll be referencing it a lot over coming months. So I figured I might as well write a missive on it. (And have something to which in-depth readers can click.)

I don’t know how better to describe this show other than to say: punk Shakespeare set to the music of the Go-Go’s.

I know: whaaaat?

Just trust me.

And “just trust me” is NOT how to sell a Broadway show.

Even the most naïve of tourists would be smart to avoid a show whose unofficial slogan could be “I don’t know how to describe it. It’s insightful and heart-warming and thought-provoking and very 2018 and touching and surprising and, well…just trust me. You’ll love it.”

But that’s how it goes.

It’s hard to sell a show that requires so many near-disclaimers.

But I’m confident we will make it. Because this show is good. Really good.

Just trust me.

The show incorporates several themes of love, acceptance, gender, sexuality, politics, climate change, patriarchy, standards of beauty, and art.

We have legendary Broadway actors, bombshell newcomers, a famous trans woman playing a non-binary character…I know. Lots to unpack, right? Every single one of these characters and themes are integral to the show, yet the show isn’t really about them, particularly the gender and sexuality themes.

Many naysayers or critics-of-snowflakes might role their eyes about a show incorporating gay themes.

Or other curmudgeonly critics might roll their eyes at the presentation of a character self-identifying as “they”, like when the NYTimes’ Ben Brantley had to issue an apology for being so dismissive of non-binary folks. But why beat that dead horse with more clickbait?

But if you don’t feel like being bludgeoned with a 2018 woke agenda, fear not – these are just circumstantial themes, not what the show is about.

The point of the show is…well…an artistic and escapist romp amidst/among/around all these themes, simultaneously.

Yet, it’s not frivolous.

But also not mortally dirge-like.

Though not at all preachy.

Still, it’s important.

It’s what a Broadway show should be but rarely is: a thought-provoking entertainment experience with kick-ass choreography and fabulous costumes.

Just trust me.

(Oh, and as for me? Glad you asked. I’m a standby for the two, well…old guys. A standby is an actor who jumps on if their “cover” is out of the show. So my stage presence is dependent on laryngitis or twisted ankles. But I sing backstage during every performance as a “booth” singer.)

Love a Good Cross-Post

I was flattered to be posted by my surrogacy agency, Growing Generations, with this missive about maintaining my expectations as a new dad. Growing Generations was one of the first agencies to help shepherd the parenting process in the surrogate realm. We were so lucky to find them and I’m honored to be featured on their blog.

Check it!

https://www.growinggenerations.com/news/parenting-dont-bother-preparing/