Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Just Back from the Fourth Grade Play

Which was an hour and a half long. Not that I would ever complain about that. Nope, not me.

Let me say up front that I was not part of the standing ovation after the final curtain, but that my reluctance had nothing to do with the play's running time. I just feel that fourth graders should not get standing ovations, no matter how charming and wonderful they are, and these particular fourth graders are filled with charm and wonder, and their performances were quite delightful (though sixty minutes of delight would have done it for me).

The problem with standing ovations for fourth graders is how do you follow that up? What do you do after the fifth grade play? Throw money?

I've been proposing a moratorium on standing o's for years now. When every performance you go to receives a standing ovation from its audience, what can a standing ovation be worth? It's lost its currency. There should be no standing ovations for five years for anyone. I don't care of Sir Laurence Olivier comes back from the grave to perform Hamlet. If he does it between May 2009 and May 2014, he's out of luck. Then after May 2014, only performances that change every single audience member's life (there can be a quick vote right after the final curtain) should get them. That's it. No more standing ovations for the community theater's production of "Mousetrap." Enough!

And, call me a grinch, but fourth graders should never, ever get a standing ovation. It's not good for their characters.


Am I the only adult who attends these things and spends the whole time wondering which of the girls are mean to the other girls and which of the boys are bullies? Am I the only one who wants to hug the chubby girls and whisper to them that one day they'll be much more interesting than the little skinny princesses dancing around them--in fact, they probably already are?

I was a chubby little girl. I ached in sympathy for the chubby little girls up on stage tonight. I know what's it like not to be able to do a cartwheel. I know what it's like to want so badly to be like those girls who are still tiny, or the ones who are getting tall and stretching out thin. I used to put runs in my shirts by pulling them away from my belly and down toward my knees so that my stomach wouldn't show.

I need to write a book about that.


Angela said...

Please write the book! Mention the very short girl with a flat chest who couldn't sing in tune.

You are right about the standing ovation thing. If we over-praise the little darlings too soon they will be unbearable later. A missionary friend in America sent pictures of their kid 'graduating' from Kindergarten, with rolled up diploma, congratulations cards, gifts etc etc.


My husband and I sit in our car at traffic lights, behind SUVs with "Little princess on board" and rant to each other about today's abysmal parenting.

"Train up a child in the way he SHOULD go, and when he is older he wilnot depart from it" says the Good Book, and we do well to remember that.

Thanks for a wonderfully ranty post which I have greatly enjoyed. Blessings on your day!

Danielle said...

I would give you a standing O for agreeing with your well-said comments, but I will have to wait for the moratorium to lift.

Just know that some of the skinny girls felt awful because they had flat chests and no curves and naturally big hair giving one the appearance of a q-tip. In short, nothing and everything in all the wrong places...

Tracy said...

Yup..not good for their characters. Just having spent 3 days with 3rd & 4th graders...they need to build some character first.

I'm the one though, who sits on the edge of my seat when they perform publically because I know their little fears and idiosyncrasies. I go find them later and congratulate improvement and a job well done and remind them how far they've come. But no standing ovation...

debbie bailey said...

I totally agree with you about standing O's. I frequently stay seated when everyone else gives a standing ovation to a less than stellar performance. It's the principle, you see. Great post!

debbie bailey said...

I totally agree with you about standing O's. I frequently stay seated when everyone else gives a standing ovation to a less than stellar performance. It's the principle, you see. Great post!

Ali said...

What a rantingly good post! I too wonder about what the kids on stage are truly like. And who had a tantrum at home about their costume before going on stage. You've got to love the back-story haven't you?

Anonymous said...

Oh me too! I always do that too. If you write the book, don't forget to include the plain jane/tomboy. ;)

Pom Pom said...

I love it! YOU are so right! I join you in protesting standing ovations! I was the chubby girl, too. When I see the pain that some of my chubbier students feel when they KNOW they are compared with the skinnys, I do want to whisper that truth in their ears! "YOU are brilliant and real and smart! Who cares about dumb boys? You are NOT going to marry an eighth grader, so you don't need a stupid relationship! Buy baggy clothes, eat tasty stuff, ride your bike, write poems!" I spent WAY too much time worrying that I was going to get fatter and fatter and sabotage all my opportunities when I could have been out riding my bike and drawing pictures and REALLY appreciating relationships! Some girls ARE mean. I'm so thankful that our kids are through school. It was agonizing watching all the yucky stuff that happened . . . sort of reminds you of Lord of the Flies! I wonder why we don't teach humility in school . . . it's always success, success, success and I get so sick of it. I like to hunt for the good souls and often they are very invisible and hard to find. I read a good book recently and I forget the title (shocker!) but it mentioned that Jesus steered clear of the metropolitan areas that were all glitzy and impressive and he wasn't real wild about spending time with the pious "movers and shakers" of the time. He chose simple fishermen for friends. Hmmmmmm. The first shall be last and the last shall be first.
Oh! I AM writing a young adult novel about the quest for a slim body and the lengths perfectly wonderful teenagers will go to so that they can achieve admiration from the shallow ones. You write one, too! We need more sound young adult novels. Have you read any lately? Most of them are lame. I love your smart blog!