In yesterday’s post, I shared my thoughts about the production of The American Idiot that I saw on Tuesday evening. In today’s post, I will share “the rest of the story” – aka: what I did not share yesterday and what happened when I returned home from the performance.
A few weeks ago, the Fridley Drama Club president contacted the boy and the girl to inform them of the club’s field trip plans to see The American Idiot. They wanted to attend, the huz and I asked them if there would be any reason why they should not go, and they thought there would not be. They paid for their own tickets, and we signed the permission slips.
The school should know what is appropriate for high school students to see, right? The drama club advisor would have looked into this, right? The school principal would have stopped the field trip from happening, right?
When I received notification that I would receive two complimentary tickets to attend the show as an exclusive blogger for the show, I was elated! When I discovered that the huz could not attend, I knew right away which friend I would choose to take with me. We both love theater, and we both have to maintain a strict entertainment budget. I knew she would be the right choice, but – because I had no idea what the musical was about – I took a look at the information online so that I could pass it on to my friend.
The interesting thing about what I found online is that it warned of “adult themes” and strong language. I shared this with my friend. I still thought in the back of my mind, “Well, the kids’ school drama club is going…it can’t be that bad.” And – this is BROADWAY, right? How bad can it be? I saw Sweeney Todd last summer, and – although the themes were very adult – it was done tastefully. Broadway = tasteful. RIGHT?
Unfortunately, as soon as the opening scene of the musical finished, I knew that I would have to have a conversation with the family at home. In just that opening ten minutes, I had enough concerns to object to my children attending. I felt like such a failure as a mother! I had abdicated my role as guardian of their minds to a teacher and a principal whom I hardly know. Rather than being the gatekeeper that my role requires, I trusted a source that has rarely proven to have the same value system that I have.
The scene depicted in the **photo** to the left is honestly one of the most impressive scenes I have ever seen in my theater-going history. I was in absolute awe as Scott J. Campbell (Tunny) and Nicci Claspell (The Extraordinary Girl) sang “Extraordinary Girl” and danced in the air. It seriously took my breath away. I was sad when the song ended because it had truly changed my perspective about the entire musical. I wanted these two characters to continue in their magical presentation of artistic expression through song and floating dance. Unfortunately, this song – and the positivity in the musical – ended all too quickly.
This, along with the encore performance of “Time of Your Life,” is one of the scenes that I would have loved for my kiddos to see. By the way: did you know that “Time of Your Life” is actually titled “Good Riddance”? A relative told me via Facebook, and I have confirmed it. Interesting…
As a family, we discussed the concerns that I had with the musical. It did not take very long before we decided that the boy and the girl would not attend. Two days after making the decision, I am still happy about it. More than that, I am happy that the kids did not take much convincing. As I described the scenes that made me concerned, they both squirmed a bit.
I cannot even describe how thankful I am that I was able to see this production on opening night. If I had not gone, I never would have known about the concerns that I would have in my children attending. They would have gone and would have seen what I did not want them to see. The disturbing overtly sexual images that I can still see vividly without much thought would have been in their brains as well.
I also learned a very important less through this experience. In so many ways, my children have reached an independence that I trust. We have raised them with a good basis for decision making. I know that they will make mistakes from time to time, but I also know that I will not always be there to be the gatekeeper.
That, though, is still in the future.
The importance of me being a parent has not ended yet. I am still responsible to guide them in their decision making. I am still responsible to stop them from seeing movies, musicals, and plays – as well as playing video games or even board games – that are not appropriate for them. I cannot abdicate my parenting to anyone – not a school, a youth worker, a friend, or a family member – until they are no longer in my home. Even then, I need to speak into their lives, to remain in conversation with them, and to share my concerns when I have them.
About halfway through the musical, I realized that I felt compelled to walk out. Yes – it was that disturbing to me. However, the reason that I had complimentary tickets was because I had committed to blog about the performance. I kept telling myself that I needed to stay because of that commitment. In conversation the next day with my friend who accompanied me to the performance, I found out that she had the same feeling – to leave the performance – but stayed because she knew I had to stay.
I felt like I needed to stay because I had committed to blog? She stayed because she knew I would need to stay because I had committed to blog?
We are grown adults, and we did not leave even though we pretty much wanted to do so. And we stayed because of things that were completely external rather than our own values. If that is the case with two thirty-something women how could I possibly expect that my teenage children would choose to walk out – a decision that I think would have been the most appropriate response to the performance.
And that, my friends, is why helping them to make the decision – or at times making the decision for them when they do not agree with the reasoning – will remain my job for quite a while yet.
As Paul Harvey would say, “And now you know … the rest of the story.”
**Photo of provided by the Hennepin Theater Trust
Scott J. Campbell (Tunny) and Nicci Claspell (The Extraordinary Girl) in AMERICAN IDIOT