When I first started blogging just under a year ago, many, many people, in fact a barrage of people, told me not to use my son’s real name when posting. So I took their advice and called my son Jake when talking about him on this blog. But recently he told me that because he has his own blog now where he uses his online moniker of Seb and many of his friends read it; and some of those friends actually read my blog as well (methinks I need to censor my content a little more) that he would be more comfortable if I used his real name which is NICK. So the-son-formerly-known-as-Jake is now Nick.
Another reason Nick wants to be known as Nick is that he is starting to post a few things on YouTube and other areas where he has used his real name and occasionally wants me to link to them. Yes, my son is into a bit of self-promotion. A lot of people have said to me :’It doesn’t matter if you use your real name but don’t use his. You don’t want his friends or
shock horror his teachers reading about some of the personal stuff you write about. It’s too much information.’ I remain unconvinced. Don’t you think that the reason many of us write is to attract readers? I mean, my name is there for all to see. If you lived in the Sydney Metro area you would be able to find me easily because I’m in the phonebook but why would you want to? And why, if you don’t already know I have a blog, are you googling me anyway?
I know that people who have experienced stalking or harassment would look at this issue differently but I think regardless of whether you call yourself Mr. Fancypants or refer to your kids as Sugarplum One and SugarPlum Two, there is a line of anonymity associated with blogging that most people wouldn’t consider crossing. And the sickos are going to be sickos irrespective of what you call yourself.
But to get to the real point of this post –
Nick is starting High School next year. His favourite subjects are drama and music. He is a good actor and a fantastic singer so he wanted to try out for the Performing Arts High School (which I have been told is internationally acclaimed. La de frickin’ da.)
Anyway, we worked on our drama for months and he picked a song to sing from the directive he was given (either folk or musical theatre) which he did a fabulous job of interpreting – Mr.Bojangles. I was sure he was in with a chance but on the day of the audition (Friday) he was cut. Apparently, it was a very close call but I knew as soon as we walked into the school that he didn’t have a chance. I could smell the money a mile away – coming from the parents.
Nick and I joke around a lot – that’s just our way – and I think we pissed a lot of the more serious contenders off with this running gag we did about this little baby (brother of one of the auditionees) who was in the waiting area. We called him the behbeh and how he liked to be the centre of attention and always made sure he was the only baby in the room so he would lose none of that attention. The behbeh was a martial arts expert and challenged any other babies who stepped on his turf to a fight like the one between Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburn in The Matrix. No one joined in the gag as sometimes happens, but many people raised their eyebrows.
While Nick was doing his drama audition (2 hours long) a woman latched onto me, dripping in pearls and something which was obviously designer (but me, being the pleb I am, didn’t recognise it.) ‘My son’s going for drama too,’ she said. ‘Ever since he was two he has loved Hamlet. It is his dream to play him.’ Wow, I said, that’s one exceptional kid you’ve got there’, meanwhile thinking : ‘What a load of crap. Everybody knows most two year olds spend their days eating dirt, sticking small objects up their noses or in their ears, and listening to The Wiggles or watching Teletubbies. Hamlet, my Aunt Fanny.’
Another woman told me her son played three instruments, was in a drama ensemble and studied interpretative dance in his spare time. Another spoke of her son’s love for the Brandenburg concertos. Yet another mentioned that her son was considered to be almost a prodigy on the violin. Almost but not quite.
None of these kids sounded like they did the things Nick does.He writes songs, little quirky melodies that make you smile; makes little films about ordinary things such as the one he did about a kid at school feeling like an outsider; and he has performed several times with a local blues band. I wondered for the umpteenth time that morning why we were there.
When Nick emerged from the drama audition he looked deflated. ‘I don’t think I did that well,’ he admitted. The other kids in the workshop were obnoxious and over-confident. The best at everything, or so they said. They all had mobile phones which they used to text their friends, relaying how well they were doing. One of them even had a Blackberry.
Nick believes he blew it when the examiner asked him what his dream as an actor was. The examiner had been going on about the senior drama class putting on ‘Death of a Salesman’ and how wonderful it was. Nick wondered why any 12-year old kid would be interested in a play written by that guy who was married to Marilyn Monroe. He told the examiner it was his dream to make a movie with as much universal, long-lasting appeal as Star Wars. There was silence in the room. The other kids looked at him as if he was an alien.
He was cut from contention ten minutes later.
The same thing happened during the music audition. The kids all played classical pieces or sang Andrew Lloyd Webber. Nick’s song went down well but when he was asked what his favourite genre of music was and he answered alternative rock or blues there was another resounding silence. It wasn’t long after that, that he was cut for the second time.
Over 900 kids are set to audition at this school over the coming week. There are only 80 spots. That’s a lot of disappointed kids and even more disgruntled parents. When I saw the way some of the kids reacted to the news I was glad Nick has such a firmly-entrenched sense of self. One girl sobbed so much she made herself vomit, another collapsed and had to be carried out. While I was initially deflated I now realise such a school is not for my son. He would not be happy hanging out with a bunch of divas who think they are the best. Disappointment is a part of life and as a parent it can be hard to watch your child have to deal with it. But I think the way your child deals with it reveals the true measure of their character. I was very proud of him. Very proud.
This is a still from one of the films Nick’s made called The Lonely Guy. It’s inspired by Charlie Chaplin, is shot in black and white and is a silent film. One day, Nick, I hope you get to fulfill your dream of being a filmmaker. No matter what the other kids say, you will always be the best to me.