Things are crazy here at bradenbell.com which is why we haven't been around much. Our big winter musical opens a week from Thursday, so there is a lot going on. Sets are being built and painted, costumes are being sewn, props are being finished, programs are being printed and so on.
I always send out a letter to the parents of the cast at this point, based on over 25 years of directing this age group. At any rate, this is specifically addressed to parents of students in this play. But I think it is equally applicable to other activities in life, so I thought I'd pass it along for whatever it may be worth.
As we go into these last two weeks, let me thank you for the hard work so many of you have already, or will be devoting to making the play wonderful for the kids. These next two weeks are always magical as all the elements come together.
They are also stressful--at least historically speaking. So, I'd like to just toss a few thoughts out.
As the play gets closer, it will apparently fall apart. It always does--and then it comes back together. Please don't make a fuss about this as it will stress your child out even more.
You will likely see tired, and stressed children, especially in middle school. They will wonder how they'll get their assignments done and there might be tears and angst--and then it will all be over and everything will be just fine.
As a parent, I went through this with my daughter for three years and six plays. There were some times that she didn't do well on quizzes or assigments the week of the play. But she still got into high school.
Now that it's over, some fatigue and a lower score on a few assignments really don't matter. In fact, the lessons she learned about resilience and about toughing it out continue to bless her life.
Even more, the memories she has of those plays are wonderful treasures for her and they keep giving. As a parent, I think the growth that came from these experiences was worth a few minor sacrifices--although that doesn't mean it's easy at the time.
One of the biggest differences between adults and adolescents is that adolescents have virtually no emotional depth perception. That is, they generally don't have the experience to be able to discern if something is a big deal or if it's just a momentary snag.
Consequently, one of the greatest services adults can do for them is to provide them with perspective: "Yes sweetheart, I know you are tired. I know you are stressed. And yes, you might get a B on this quiz. And life will go on and everything will be just fine."
By opening night, the adrenaline generally kicks in and everything ends on a high note. Before that, they will get tired and discouraged and grumpy. You can do them a great service by helping them not blow small struggles into major crises. You can also do them a great service by not trying to make their life easy. Developmentally appropriate difficulties help develop strength, resilience and confidence.
On that note, I'll remind you about what we talked about in the parent meeting: please do not ask teachers to make accommodations to homework, academics, and attendance expectations because of the play. Being in the play presumes that the student agrees to keep up with their academic work and we need to be very careful not to put the cart before the horse.
I'm excited to see the kids bring this all together and emerge triumphant, stronger, and wiser very soon!
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Thoughts about raising and teaching adolescents. You can read the complete series here. (What in the world are Middle School Mondays?) Click here.
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