Mama Said There’d Be Days Like These

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.

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38 thoughts on “Mama Said There’d Be Days Like These

  1. i am thinking your son is probably a savant compared to the talent only money can buy… i am on my way over to have a look see at his site…..

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  2. I can’t believe he didn’t get in. I am shocked. Did they even know about the award he won for that film? He was only ten, for God’s sake. They don’t know what they’re missing out on. Totally their loss.

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  3. Oh my poor little Nicky. That sucks. It’s hard when you’re different and your kids are different. I agree with Paisley. Who wants talent that only money can buy? He’ll still have his moment in the sun. Don’t worry about that!

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  4. Sel, I wouldn’t worry about it at all. In the future he’ll be making the films all those diva -like kids want to be in. Then he’ll have the last laugh. However, I do know how much you wanted it for him. I am really sorry.

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  5. I have to agree with Chelsea, and add that schools like this have a rigid idea of art and talent that pushes conformity and would destroy Nick’s spontaneous creativity. I think he’s lucky to have had the chance to see that the school isn’t the right place for him.

    Go Nick-write, sing, direct-the world needs diverse and quirky points of view, not more snobby conformity!

    Sagacious Woman

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  6. PAISLEY – his blog is very new but he’s enjoying it. Your point about the talent only money can buy is so profound and unfortunately a growing trend in this consumerist culture we find ourselves in. It’s hard being an individual these days, isn’t it ? Thank you for always putting things into perspective for me. XX

    MEL – I think it was probably a good thing. They had no filmmaking facilities at all. He was just on a different tangent to everyone else. They were all ‘Give My regards to Broadway’ while he was all ‘All Along the Watchtower.’ Far too diametrically opposed.

    JULES – thank you, my dear. He will be OK. He’s going to go to Sydney Secondary College. They have an excellent drama department and a film studies unit. Much more up his street. I’m sure he’ll enjoy it.

    CHELS – I did want it for him. I couldn’t sleep on Friday night, just lay on the couch watching Vivien Leigh in ‘Streetcar Named Desire’ bawling my eyes out. But as you know Blanche DuBois always cheers me up. She is such a fruitcake. And Vivien, there’s no one like Vivien……

    SAGACIOUS WOMAN – you really are sagacious. I really enjoy reading your comments and agree with you completely. The last thing we need in this century is a society of conformists. We need to embrace the individual even if it means putting up with a bit of disappointment along the way. You are so kind. Thank you. XX

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  7. Your description of the school wasnt how I expected it to be, it sounded like a more pretentious wanky version of the school we often talk about (by the way… I forget your name but how much did you pay for your house?!). Nick has talent and is excited by his talent without needing any enouragement from you . There’s no doubt in my mind he’s going on to big things and that school would have made him unhappy and conform in the most horrible way.
    And anorexic.
    And friendless.
    So say me, because I thought it was going to be like “Fame’ and am really disappointed.

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  8. KATE – they didn’t even have a rock band. Everything was string quartets and woodwind ensembles. I thought it was going to be like ‘Fame’ as well. What a shame. Nick would have hated it. About 8 or 9 years ago when our neighbour was enrolled in the school I went along to a concert and there was this great rock band all the kids were in. That’s what got me interested in it. Apparently it has become more like the Conservatorium since then. Very disappointing. Anyway, he’s looking forward to going to SSC, so that’s all that counts. And he can walk there so he doesn’t need to bother his mother every morning for a lift. A win-win situation!

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  9. FOR NICK:

    Think Eurovision Song Contest; Think Britain/America’s Got Talent … and consider the number of people that won such shows, and faded into obscurity. Then, think of those contestants that didn’t do so well, but still ‘made their names’

    I’m thinking, too, at such an audition, would Russel Crowe, Sean Bean, Michael Caine et. al. have made the cut? Probably not …

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  10. TRAVELRAT – you are absolutely right. I wonder if all those famous actors would make it into a performing arts school these days. Thank you so much for your encouragement. I do so appreciate it!

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  11. I just thought of a joke that was going the rounds last year:

    Q. What do you do if you find last years’ winner of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ on your doorstep?

    A. Pay him for the pizza!

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  12. Nick is probably better off. It does sound like the school is elitist and out of touch with the times. Still, I am sorry he got cut.

    He sounds like the real deal, a creative person who is not hampered by artificial distinctions between high and popular culture.

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  13. I’m sad for Nick’s disappointment Selma but it sounds like he dodged a bullet to me. He seems like a sensible kid with a down to earth approach and that school would have tainted and poisoned his creative juices. What a bunch of insufferable snobs with the pretentious little brats to prove it.

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  14. INGRID – it was tough to see him get cut. His little face…..
    I knew he wanted to cry but he fought not to. It was hard to watch. He is quite a creative kid. I hope this doesn’t dampen his spirit.

    GYPSY – Sydney is becoming so snobby. Uber-competitive. At this rate I’m going to have to move to Adelaide! XX

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  15. It is probably for the best that Nick was cut. It sounds like that school would have quashed his creativity and uniqueness.

    …and it would be quite ironic if some of those ‘divas’ are begging Nick for a role in one of his movies ten years from now.

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  16. EMPLOYEE – it was definitely for the best. At the time I didn’t think so but it is amazing how letting a few days pass can change your perspective. Nick is a unique kid. The pressure to conform would probably have been too much for him. Now he can just do his thing as he likes!

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  17. I knew it! I knew he looked more like a Nick than a Jake. Seriously, that’s what I thought from the beginning.

    Although I must admit, he does pass for a Charlie too. 🙂

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  18. Ever wonder about what’s in a name? The Boy is actually a Nick too. Younger, but also very creative.

    Sad to see them disappointed. Tell him I look forward to seeing/hearing his stuff. Well, it sounds like the kind of pretention that no one needs in art.

    Alas.

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  19. GERALDINE – awww, thank you. That means so much. I’m thinking about getting my blog hosted just so I can change a few things more easily like fonts and backgrounds etc but I am nervous about doing so because I have no idea what I am in for. I also can’t do that CSS thing. However, I’m going to look at it as a learning experience……;)

    CHRIS – You always make me smile. You have a brilliant sense of humour.

    NAT – you have a Nick too? Oh, that is amazing. When you have mentioned him on your blog I have thought he sounds so much like my boy. That is brilliant!

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  20. Love the new look!! I agree with you readers – I don’t think Nick would have liked it at that school. That school would have stifled his creativity. Maybe once he get to University he can enroll into film, If your university is anything like the one here, they pretty much let your create in your own style.

    I read your comment to Geraldine – fonts you can change yourself without it being hosted, but I think it also depends on which theme you are using – background not sure, but if you ever need help let me know. I dable in that stuff and in September I am returning to school full time in web/graphic design. Can’t wait – it is going to be more up my field of creativity. If you are willing to wait a year I will gladly make you a professional looking web design LOL, but in the mean time i can help you out with some of the little stuff. My next post I’ll change the font so you can see, if it doesn’t work in the theme I’m using I’ll use a different one to show you. Blogspot is much easier to change – I use to change their whole layouts to suit my needs, here is an example

    http://frisbee08.blogspot.com/

    I like wordpress better, but I still use my blogspot account to play around with the layouts and practice CSS

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  21. Yay for Nick! I mean, sorry he didn’t get in… no, I’m not sorry. I think it would have broken his heart to be forced to abandon his true talents in order to fit their snobbish ideals.

    It’s funny, but I’ve been talking a bit about coming out of the identity closet on the blog, naming names, etc, but so far everyone has balked at the thought because they all love their nicknames. The boldest step I’ve taken to expose my family is to post Middle Minion’s prom picture.

    Originally, I did the whole anonymity thing because my husband has a web business and I think I’d probably scare away most of his clientele if they found my blog. Ok, that and my day job at the school. Some of the stuff I said about the administration probably could have gotten me canned.

    Still, someday I’d like to be the real me.

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  22. Hi Selma,
    It’s me again, just thought if you’d want to see other layouts I did let me know and I’ll send you the links instead of putting them all here…

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  23. TBALL – I would love to see all the links. You are so kind to help me. I’m afraid I am hopeless at this kind of thing. You are obviously very talented if you are going to study graphic design. I am really impressed. I will check out the links you have already left. Thank you so much!

    KAREN – I know exactly what you mean but you can’t change the names of Middle Minion and especially not Eight O’Clock. All your readers will miss them. I know a couple of people who’ve got into trouble for blogging about work so I try to do it as little as possible, just in case. But sometimes, when infuriated, I can’t help myself. By the way, found any treasures in your garage?

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  24. Ya know – if people have to tell you stuff like “He loved Hamlet from the age of two/he’s a violin prodegy” then they’re really just hiding a (perceived or real) lack of talent. Those kids will grow up believing or realising that their parents are disappointed in them because, guess what, it’s not going to happen the way the parent has it all planned out in her head.

    You have a son whose real talent shines through. He is allowed to be creative, and he therefore discovers things he likes and things he’s good at. That kind of motivation will take him far – further than a teenager being pushed by mom and sponsored by dad’s dollars.

    On names: an online friend of mine writes about his family, and refers to his children by their initial. He says he wants to let them decide when and how they would like to handle their own online identity. It sounds like Nick has made his decision regarding his online identity. I know he’s savvy enough to manage it.

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  25. DAOINE – you are a wise woman, indeed. Thank you for your lovely comment. And I do think Nick is savvy enough to manage his own identity. And being left alone to do his little creative projects in his own way is completely what he wants. It’s funny how a situation that initially disappoints can end up being a blessing.

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  26. Don’t be downhearted by him not getting in. One of my sons is very bright. Against my better judgement I entered him for one of the super schools. He got in, but the headteacher was intrigued to know how someone from my kind of family did it. Did I give him special coaching on how to pass the tests?
    So, it couldn’t have been on HIS abilities, then. Over the following years, much of his academic ambition was knocked out of him. He’s doing well today – very well, infact. But this is despite sending him to such a school. Not because of.
    Nick seems a great lad. Be proud!

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  27. ANTHONY – I am really glad your son is doing so well. How rude of the teacher to assume you had coached him. Sounds like you have a lot to be proud of. I am glad the school didn’t completely crush his ambition. Thank you for your encouragement.

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  28. You are a wonderful mother! You are raising a creative, talented level-headed boy and offer him the rite to dream and dream big, all the while sprinkling him with peppers of reality. He looks adorable and self-assured and accomplished in that still.That’s the proper attitude…that that school isn’t for him…and let him mourn but move on. I so admire you. I also look forward to seeing his site and future films. If he ever needs an additional copywriter….

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  29. I do believe things happen for a reason. Although I do not profess to be an expert, I do think those hoilty-toilty schools discourage real talent and originality to obtain the same-old/same-old – it is easier to grade and thus less work on the teacher’s part. How wonderful it will be when Nick grows up and excells in his filmmaking. When he is accepting his Oscar, he should definitely remember to thank the Performing Arts High School for turning him down as this gave him more time to devote to serious study of his craft.

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  30. It sounds to me that being cut was the best thing that could have happened to Nick. He must be an incredibly creative soul and I’ve a hunch that would have been stifled in that sort of environment. Still it’s tough to hear the word, cut … but the thing that matters is that Nick has a good and sturdy sense of self. That will take him much further in life.

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  31. BRENDA – oh, my dear, how kind you are. You have made me feel that everything will work out for the best. I can’t thank you enough. XX00

    CRICKET – now that would be a bit of poetic justice, wouldn’t it? I absolutely agree with you!

    GYPSY – YAY. Gypsy and Selma painting Adelaide purple. Now that would be something!

    KATE – cut was a tough one. It chilled me for a bit but now I see it as a blessing. Nick does have a strong sense of self which I am enormously grateful for. It makes him quite resilient. Sometimes things not working out as planned are a blessing in disguise.

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  32. What a great mom you are to Nick! Keep your chin up, Nick!
    Be YOU. YOU are what you can offer, and only YOU.
    This school missed out on lots of open, warm creativity–you come by it from your Mom, no doubt!

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  33. KAREN – you are one in a million. I am going to keep that story forever. XXOO

    LISA – awwwww. You are a sweetie. Nick himself has said to me – one door closes and another one opens. I am glad he is so philosophical!

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