Performance Anxiety

I’ve always been conflicted about children and performances. Growing up, I performed in piano and ballet recitals, and was in the occasional play. The stage wasn’t my natural habitat, but I never had any real qualms.

But when I was in junior high, I went to see my friend’s sister perform in her dance recital. She did just fine–but there was a class of tiny girls who went on stage with teddy bears, and one of them should not have been there. This girl just stared out into the darkened theater and sobbed, and none of the teachers went to help her.

Ever since, I’ve had misgivings about the idea of very small children performing on stage. Enter Baguette.

December 2010: Baguette’s first school Holiday Performance

Her class was all infants, and they were propped up in bench seats. Baguette was mesmerized by the stage lights and had no idea there was an audience, so that went well.

By the way, if there is anything more ridiculous than putting infants who can’t stand on a stage and calling it a performance, I don’t know what it is. (Although Bestie stole the show that year, I do have to admit.)

May 2011: Baguette’s first school Spring Performance

Each class sang and danced a little to a song. The infants got wheeled around in a cart and looked bewildered. It was fine.

December 2011: Baguette’s second school Holiday Performance

She was starting to get a cold, and couldn’t spot us in the audience. One of her teachers kept her from actually sobbing, but we could see the tears.

May 2012: Baguette’s second school Spring Performance

She had just moved to a new classroom and didn’t know the song. She knew she didn’t know it and she couldn’t spot us in the crowd, so she started crying quietly.

December 2012: Baguette’s third school Holiday Performance

I took her backstage to drop her off with her class, and she started sobbing and screaming. I left her, in the hope that she would settle down when she realized she was with her teachers (who she didn’t much like) and friends. After a few minutes, I asked the school director to check on Baguette. A minute later, she was back, holding Baguette and saying, “She’s not 100%.” We watched most of the show from the audience and then went outside and ran around in the patio.

May 2013: Baguette’s third school Spring Performance

Mr. Sandwich picked her up early and brought her home.

December 2013: Baguette’s fourth school Holiday Performance

We checked with her teacher (who she adores), who shook her head and said, “I think it’s going to be too loud for her.” We stayed home.

May 2014: Baguette’s fourth school Spring Performance

Again, we checked with her teacher, saying, “We don’t want her to feel left out, but we don’t want to put her in a situation that makes her unhappy.” The teacher said, “You know what? I think she’s going to like it this time. She’s really into practicing the song. She sings it all the time.”

So with trepidation, we showed up at school and hid. Because we know from past experience that if she sees us, she’s going to come to us. And what did we see? A girl who knew all the moves and nearly all the words, who followed her teacher’s lead, and who was beaming as she performed with her class.

little girl on stage with class

She would not have done that a year ago, or two years ago, and we know that because she didn’t. But she’s learned so many skills in the past six months, and she’s become so confident. This is huge.

This is huge.

Happy Mother’s Day

After a rough night that was the aftermath of The Nap Debacle, we’ve had a really nice Mother’s Day: breakfast at my in-laws’ house, swimming at the Y, and dinner at In-n-Out, where for the first time Baguette said, “Try sandwich” and proceeded to remove the cheese from our burgers until we got her a grilled cheese sandwich of her own.

I hope all of you had a lovely day, whether you are mothers, have mothers, or have had had mothers. I’m in two of those groups, so I know today can be bittersweet in the same moment that it’s wonderful. But let’s focus on the wonderful as much as we can, shall we?

two women with young girl and dog

Naptime Is Over

baby in hat asleep in stroller

Naptime has always been a struggle. She naps well at daycare, but at home, it’s never been easy. We’ve tried to keep to the daycare schedule. We’ve taken her for drives. We’ve tried lying down with her. We’ve put her down and told her that she has to stay.

It turns out that may have been the worst choice. While that method did work for a short time–she would put up a fuss, but eventually go to sleep–it didn’t last. On the best days, she’d go to sleep, sometimes for the full two hours. On the good days, she’d talk to herself. On the bad days, she’d scream until we determined that she wasn’t going to nap that day, and wasn’t going to calm down.

Today, we made it 30 minutes. She was screaming, and then she started to gasp, and then she started to say something. We couldn’t make it out, but we went over to comfort her, and found her leaning up against the side of the bed saying, “I’m sorry.”

“I’m sorry.”

Our little girl thought we were punishing her. All this time, she’s been thinking that we were angry with her, and she didn’t know what she’d done. She didn’t see it as naptime. She saw it as exile.

So that’s it. I talked to her about “quiet time,” but honestly, I think that’ll be easier after she learns to read. In the meantime, if she falls asleep, then she naps. And if she doesn’t, she stays up.

We’ll figure it out.

The Wheels on the Bus

When I started my current job–well, not my current job, but my first job working for my current employer–I commuted by Big Blue Bus. And later, when we moved, I continued to commute by bus: briefly via Metro, and then by LADOT Commuter Express.

Each was its own experience. The Big Blue Bus was full of Westsiders–commuters and a handful of unruly middle school students (they got a lot more ruly after I wrote a letter to their principal, and why isn’t ruly a word?).

The Metro bus was a mix; the Orange Line was mostly commuters, and the bus to which I made a connection was largely people who worked in one form of manual labor or another.

Commuter Express was, as you might expect, a vehicle primarily for commuters. It covered the longest distance and made the fewest stops, and also it cost the most.

But it was the quickest bus route between home and work, and it kept me from having to do the driving myself. I got to sit down (always in the evening, and most of the time in the morning). I made friends who were on the same schedule. I got to read, and, if I wasn’t too tired, to write.

When we started riding Commuter Express, Mr. Sandwich and I commuted together. Once Baguette was born, though, we needed to stagger our schedules to accommodate day care dropoff and pickup. The bus became the only “me” time I could count on.

As time passed, I adjusted my riding patterns, changing my stop to be sure I got a seat–and, as more people began riding–a place to park my car. Baguette’s morning schedule changed, too, and more and more, I found myself parking the car at work.

Meanwhile, I was paying for a bus pass. But last month, I realized that it simply didn’t make financial sense to keep the bus pass. I was only riding once a week, and paying for parking on the other days. After some discussion and agonizing, I gave up my bus pass and bought a parking permit.

So, for the first time in eight years, I have ceased to be a bus commuter. It feels alien and strange. Commuting by bus was a big part of my identity; I feel a little as if I’ve failed. It’s a harder shift than changing my name when I got married, or than becoming a mother, even though all three of these things were at my instigation.

And even though I know that this, too, may change, I miss the bus.

Ride ‘Em, Cowgirl!

For quite some time, Baguette has been enamored of the Maria the Cowgirl segment on one of her favorite Sesame Street episodes. So as her birthday approached, we decided that a cowgirl theme was appropriate for this year.

Mr. Sandwich and I are ostensibly of the philosophy that simple birthday parties are better. It’s not that we won’t rent a bouncer or a pony–we just won’t do that yet.

Turns out, though, that the two of us have a little Pinterest in us after all.

general store with hats, bandannas, and hobby horses

Get all your supplies at the General Store

cowgirl

Once you’re properly provisioned, you can ride the range.

hobby horses at hitching post

If you don’t tie up your horse, it’ll wander all over town.

In the Wild West, you want to pay attention to hazards.

In the Wild West, you want to pay attention to hazards.

keep out sign

Obey the posted warnings.

birthday presents

Keep your valuables safe.

Hotel sign

Make sure you reserve your room in advance.

saloon sign

Quench your thirst at the Sarsaparilla Saloon.

girls playing with toy train

Everything changes when the railroad comes to town.

Lighting candles on cake

Recruit your posse with an eye to skills.

dog in tiny pink cowboy hat

Make sure your sidekick will put up with a lot.

WC sign

And don’t forget to include a little potty humor.

Naturally, by the time the big day came, Baguette didn’t have the slightest interest in the theme.

Baguette emerging from teepee/hotel

Instead, she’s dressed as the Human Torch.