Good Things #24

Percy Jackson. I’ve been teaching Latin for almost a year and a half, and for almost a year and a half, I have heard the name Percy Jackson.

“Magistra, have you read Percy Jackson?”

“That’s just like in Percy Jackson! Except…”

“In Percy Jackson, Ares is evil!”

It was unending. Every time we read a Greek myth or talked about the gods, it came up. Finally, after months of prompting, I have picked up The Lightning Thief. It’s a small dark green hardcover, and I like the way it feels in my hands.

It’s pretty good.

And this from a lady who skipped YA books entirely (I’m kind of regretting this, but there’s still time to make it up). It helps that Percy reminds me of one of my 7th graders, only I’m pretty sure this kid isn’t a demigod or half-blood or anything so unique.

And which teacher has starred in the book so far?

The Latin one, of course. And his hard Greek myth tests and the chanting of Latin declensions and conjugations. No wonder they always bring up the books in class!

The son of Poseidon is about to embark on a terrible mission…glad Riordan wrote a whole series. I hate when you start liking something but then *poof!* they’re done.

Lord Huron. My brother texted me this band the other day and because it was during a prep period and because I’m getting tired of the same old same old, I looked them up on Spotify right away. You might know them from their song “Into the Sun” that’s been on the radio lately. Check them out.

Tech Week. Yes, it’s coming. Starting Monday, we will be in tech week of Aladdin, Jr., and I can’t believe the show’s almost over. It went so much faster than Alice last spring. I want everyone and his brother to come see the show for a few reasons:

1. I can’t believe I’m directing musicals. It’s fun. And hilarious.

2. I absolutely LOVE some of the numbers. “Prince Ali” is awesome – the kids come down these huge stairs and march through the audience and the parents are gonna love it.

3. The kids are so adorable. It’s true. Sometimes I watch their faces and I just start laughing. It’s crazy how much they’re their own little persons already, in those tiny bodies.

4. Because I always want to go out and celebrate after a performance. It’s been that way since high school and I was in Beauty and the Beast and Kiss Me, Kate and whatever else I was in. We’d sing our hearts out then head to the diner and eat pie and french fries. So come to the show and then we can toast to our success with a chocolate milk shake.

The Best Problem

I walked out in the hushed darkness, ready to give my director’s speech. Your children are wonderful. This show is a blast. Thank you, thank you.

But before I could open my mouth, a rush of children flooded the stage, the piano started, and the lights went up. I looked around me, decided “how could I stop this, anyway?” and ran off stage like a frightened child.

Opening night couldn’t have started any better. They were too excited to wait for me. They ran onstage, their eyes shining, their carefully preened hair all done-up, and their songs as memorized as they’d ever be. I stood in the wings a moment to watch, and I looked at my assistant and said, “We did it!”

They did it.

Three shows, three nearly-full houses, and two long months of rehearsal. We taught them some valuable things:

  • Stage Left is actually on the director’s right, and Stage Right is actually on the director’s left
  • Upstage is towards the back, Downstage is towards the house (which is the audience!)
  • Talking about nervousness makes it worse! Don’t do it!

And, I think, the most important part of performing:

  • You are going to mess up. It’s going to happen. And it’s okay. You might forget a line or exactly which way you’re supposed to turn, and you’ll think quickly and keep going. No one will notice, and if they do, they certainly won’t care.

I believe in preparing children for the real stage, for the real world. For the way things are going to be.

That was the way things were. They did make some mistakes. I sat in the back – the proud director – and it was difficult for me not to laugh even harder at the mistakes. They were adorable, caring so deeply for this little show we’d worked so hard on. In the end, when I ran backstage and told them what a wonderful job they did, they glowed.

The second performance, I reminded them to let me give a speech before they ran onstage. They all stood back in the dark and watched me. I was pretty nervous about it, but every word out of my mouth was true, and real, and I meant it.

Your children are wonderful. Thank you for allowing us to work with them. I was supposed to give this speech last night, but their excitement wouldn’t let me. And that’s a wonderful problem to have.

I walked off stage as quickly as I could, and they all stared at me.

“Thank you,” one little girl said, “that was beautiful.”

As though she were shocked I had something so wonderful to say about her.

[They gave me a bouquet of flowers, a gift card, and a lovely little caricature of me and the cast to hang on my wall. I had been so afraid to take this surprise-job. Maybe learning on the job’s the way to go.]

[I might keep writing about this, just because there was so much good in it. Consider this the first installment.]