Day After Holiday Party and Working with Kids

Yes, it was our new home’s first big party!  Hooray!  I LOVE house parties, way more than bars, clubs, etc, etc.  I love the coziness of them, and a holiday party is my second favorite (I really love those summer bashes with BBQ & margaritas).  I have the best roommates ever.  We all pitched in, which made it really easy to host.  We had great lighting outside & the rain let up for a little while–so people could enjoy the fire pit and swing.  We have a big space in our garage, so we lifted up the door–I got a keg–and we played some beer pong (as well as “flip cup”–a relay game I was unaware of, but mostly enjoy due to the “chants” that occur before you start).  This was great mostly because I was fairly decent at the game.  I’m competitive, in case you haven’t noticed.

Indoors, the food and drink was also a success.  Amy made her Dad’s crazy good chili, and I baked and iced some sugar cookies–along with the traditional nuts, chips, dips, etc.  Mostly, though, I was just happy to see several of my friends together in one place (it doesn’t happen much in L.A…lots of little circles of friends).  I am SO lucky to find a second family of people out here on the West Coast.  I find myself giggling around them most of the time, which is exactly what I do with my actual family.  It of course helps that at least 10 of the guests are from Texas, including all of my roommates.  My favorite is when people I adore & am constantly entertained by meet one another & get along well.  This also allows me to sneak into my bedroom while the party is still happening & go to bed (without saying a word to anyone).  They’ve got this without me!  Goodnight!

So, I’m headed to Texas next Friday, and I am sooooo excited to be home.  The end of the school semester always comes with lots of loose ends to attempt to tie up–videos to edit, costumes to finalize, dvds to burn…so this week will be mad busy–but when it’s done, it’s done–and I have 2 weeks off!  It’s actually my favorite time to work with the students because they get to show off some of the stuff they’ve been working on for weeks.  When I’m in the moment of teaching, I don’t think much other than focusing on the production, making sure the kids are engaged, getting it done.  But I had one student that came up to me on Thursday…we’re doing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and she is playing an Oompa Loompa (and also is the costumes person).  These are 4th graders we’re talking about—young.  She is completely sweet–and comes up to me & says, “I don’t want to be an Oompa Loompa anymore.”  We’re in the final stretch here, so I’m like, “well, what do you want to do?  Just costumes?”  “No, I want to be Veruca Salt.”  Me, “Umm, but we already have a Veruca.”  Student replies, “Can she have a sister?”  Ahhhhhhh, I LOVE it!  I LOVE that I can say “Yes, that’s a great idea, but make sure it’s ok with Veruca.”  The next day she comes up to me: “Veruca says it’s ok!  I can be her sister!!!  Me and my mom were thinking about names….maybe Veronica or Vela?”  I love this about teaching theatre–it means more to some of these kids than I even think to realize.  They take it totally seriously, and so do I–even though I know it’s a 4th grade performance…I invest in it completely & sometimes, I get to see the ways in which it pays off.  The production enters a conversation at a dinner table between a mom and daughter.  The students have such pride in what they do, and it makes me proud.  It reminds me of when I was a kid & my creative/performance desires were completely serious to me (my brother and cousin can tell you all about it…), and as silly as it sounds, as cheesy as it is–I see myself in these kids & I do all I can to make their ideas come to life.  The kids ideas are valued, & they start to value themselves more…not in huge ways, but in ways that become huge as they grow up.  This is why I love working with kids.  I don’t think I’m particularly talented when it comes to putting on a show, but I do know how to listen.  They are creative problem-solvers, which is the key to a better future for our country & our planet.  Sure, it’s about reading, writing, math, science, but it’s about more than that.  Theatre allows for the kids to become a community working towards a common goal, one in which problems arise & they must come up with solutions that work for the group.  In our case, that means we will have two Veruca Salts, both of whom will have the joy of being attacked by miniature squirrels in front of an audience of proud parents next week!

OK, that’s enough for this Saturday…already afternoon & it’s still pouring down rain (we’ve NEEDED it for so long)!  Have a great weekend.

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