I was a little girl in the mid 70’s when the original Freaky Friday movie with Jodie Foster came out. I don’t remember when I ended up seeing it, but I eventually did, and while I couldn’t relate to the movie back then, I can now. Ever since Margaret was accepted into the Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) this past Spring, I have been jonesing to be in her shoes. See, I grew up in LA and did a fair amount of performing. I went to the Teenage Drama Workshop (TADW) at CSUN every summer and loved every single moment of it. I performed in drama and Shakespeare festivals in some some award-winning (and not so award-winning) sketches – and enjoyed performing in community theater. I joined an amateur dance company in graduate school and as a highlight, performed in Southern France with a sister company we hosted here in Southern California. In the nutshell, I loved the performing arts and was considered a triple threat – dancer/singer/actor. And I would have LOVED to have had the opportunity to be a student at OCSA!
As utterly embarrassed as I am to admit it, the first sign of…um, okay, I’m going to admit it… a wee bit of jealousy started brewing at the enrollment meeting, a few weeks after she got her letter of acceptance. As we walked toward the theater where it was held, we could hear a loud – no, thunderous – chorus of voices rising and then falling briefly, and then rising again. An enthusiastic group of OCSA students affectionately welcomed each of the newly accepted students with congratulatory claps, high fives, and cheers. Margaret, my little introvert, immediately went into shy mode, but not me – I was getting more and more excited! Clearly I was their target audience. I ate it up! I wanted to be THEM!
So then we sit down in the theatre and their group Montage! kicks the enrollment meeting off with a very high caliber musical theater performance of song and dance. At this point, I’m trying to figure out how I can lie my way into this school. What anti-aging treatment do I need? Seriously, I HAVE to go to this school is all I keep thinking.
Unlike me, who has a smile ear-to-ear, Margaret is watching the performance with a stoic look on her face. I ask her what’s wrong. She says nothing. Later, we’re in the foyer for a “meet and greet” with all the conservatories, and I’m chatting up a storm with different folks. The energy in the hall is evident and the more parents, faculty, and returning students I meet, the more jazzed I get. I glance over at Margaret and she’s still got that stoic look on her face. She’s barely engaging with anyone despite the few people I introduce her to. I’m starting to wonder what the heck is wrong with her when she asks me, “when can we go?” I didn’t get it. At all. I kept thinking how much fun it was going to be for her and wondering why she wasn’t allowing herself to get as excited for her future at a place that I knew she would fit in so well from the moment she auditioned.
And then later that night, with the help of my husband who shares Margaret’s personality type, I was able to see that it was just overwhelming for Margaret. It wasn’t that she wasn’t excited – it’s that meeting so many new people and being the focus of the welcoming crew in such an outward, dramatic way, was too much for her. She was anxious about leaving a school she’d been for 7 years, and friendships she’d made since she was 5. All I kept thinking about was her future, but Margaret, my thoughtful, insightful, intense Margaret, was evaluating the range of emotions that gripped her and prevented her from embracing the enrollment meeting in a way that I was.
This week, we registered Margaret. She has her 7th grade schedule, her textbooks, her locker. And she is super excited to start at what will be her school for the next 6 years. And while the feeling that I wish I could have had this experience came over me, I realized in the midst of it that I WILL have this experience. As Margaret’s momma – not a student. And that works for me!