Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Talent Show

Each year in the last week of school, our elementary school holds a talent show. It is always in the last week, so it was obviously created as filler for teachers who are simply looking to keep the students busy until that final summer dismissal bell rings. Nothing productive at all happens in the last week of school. Nothing ever has in the history of education. Academically speaking, you could eliminate the last week of school without losing any learning, but it’s a paradox… or a conundrum… I don’t know which. Anyway, as soon as you get rid of it, it appears again out of thin air. You always have to have a last week, so it will always be there, just wasting everyone’s time.

Schools have actually been trying to get rid of it for years now. The school districts have been adjusting the calendar every year, desperately trying to eliminate the week where all the teachers stop being educators and start being a cross between sheep herders and concert security, just trying to keep all the kids together and under control for four more days. Each year they cut off the last week, but are forced to add it back to the beginning of the year. That’s why school ends so early now, and the kids go back in August instead of September. We might as well not even have Labor Day anymore if we’re not going to use it for its originally intended purpose; marking when school will start.

So, in an act of pure selfishness, the teachers dragged us, the parents, into their last week of school nightmare by creating a talent show. Sure, it keeps the kids busy for a while for them, but if your child signs up, you, as a parent, are stuck. You must go or you will be letting your child down by not being present at every single significant minute of their lives. Son Number One and Two signed up to play the piano. Thanks a lot, teachers!

“Welcome to the talent show. Let’s get started right away, since we have thirty-five acts.”

Excuse me? Thirty-five!? Oh, sweet mother, we will never get out of here.

OK, time to get comfortable… I’m on a folding metal chair… comfortable is not going to happen. OK, we’re starting with two brothers, a sixth-grader on guitar and his younger brother on drums. Good start. They rock. This is a rock concert. The sixth-grader is singing and I can't understand any of the words, but these kids are really solid. OK, the song is going a little long. Remember kid, thirty-five acts!

Great first act. I am hopeful. Curtain just went down. Oh man, I think they have to break down the drum set. This is going to hurt us on time.

OK, they brought out a comedian in front of the curtain. Good job on the time management. What do you get when you cross a spider with a computer? A web page. Nice one, kid. He was funny and quick. I like him.

My butt is falling asleep on this metal chair, and we are only on act three.

Two girls singing the Taylor Swift song “You Belong to Me” a cappella. They're good, but I think they're going to sing the whole song. OK, they cut it short. Good.

Two third grade girls doing a dance/gymnastic routine to some hip-hop song. Short. OK. One of them cartwheeled off stage and almost collided with stage hand kid. Comic relief for the crowd of students. Collisions are hilarious to elementary schoolers.

Second grade hula hoop routine. Two little girls alternately jumping rope, walking on two little buckets with ropes attached to them, hula hooping and occasionally doing some gymnastics. That might have been the longest two minutes of my life. I am dying.

Piano now. Fifth grade girl. “Let it Go” from Frozen. OK. First appearance of Frozen. Surely more to come. She is wearing a dress.

Now another kid on piano. He played the Star Wars theme and “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” Dammit! His songs are cooler than my kids’ songs. My boys are playing some snake charmer song and some Russian dance song that no one knows. Now I’m starting to think my boys’ real talent might be picking obscure piano songs that no one can ba-da-da-dum along with. This kid is also well-dressed. Hmm…

My butt is completely asleep.

Now two girls and more hula hoops. Shakira song. I hate this song. The girls are really good at hula hooping. They even go down to their knees and still hula hoop. There is no way I could do that. The lyrics of this song are not appropriate for elementary school. At least, I don't think they are. I can't understand the words. I hate this song so much.

Two girls doing the cup song from Pitch Perfect. I can only hope that their parents never let them watch the movie, because, wow, not kid-friendly. They did good, but "two bottles of whiskey for the road" might not be the most appropriate elementary school lyric ever, even though two bottles of whiskey is exactly what I want right now.

There is a small fog machine on the back of the stage. It just let off a puff of fog, and for a brief moment I had hope that the stage was on fire and we could leave. No such luck.

Now two girls doing a hip-hop dance routine to “Dynamite.” One of the lyrics is "it goes on and on and on." The song is right. It does. This might never end. We are only on act ten. We really do need whiskey. I whispered to my wife, but she refused to go get some. She is not a team player.

Third grade boy dancing by himself to “Party Rockin’ in the House Tonight.” Crowd favorite. The kids love this guy’s dance routine, which is kind of a mix between the Russian deep-knee-bend dance, break dancing, and a seizure. It was short. I love this kid, too.

Second grade girl with an a cappella version of “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” from Frozen. Only our second Frozen sighting. Not bad.

I no longer have a butt.

Gymnastics now. Two girls ballet dancing and gymnastics tumbling. OK. Too bad the swimmers and baseball players couldn't showcase their after-school sports as well.

The next act is almost identical. Why couldn't they have combined them and had four girls on stage tumbling at once. That would have added a fun and more entertaining level of danger. Remember, kids love collisions. Who’s running this thing?

My boys are up on piano. They rocked it. They absolutely rocked those two songs no one has ever heard of. They are both wearing soccer shorts and stained T-shirts. Were we supposed to dress up for this?

Another piano girl. She is wearing a dress. Whoops.

Now another girl in a nice dress singing a song I don’t know. She’s good. Hey… wait a minute… she was one of the Taylor Swift girls. That isn’t fair! She is extending the time we must be in this room by going twice. She's really good, but she shouldn't get to go twice. One of my legs is going numb and my wife just shoved her elbow into my ribs to keep me from squirming.

Here’s something new. A fourth-grade boy with a round plastic trash can. There is a hole in the bottom and the top is covered with clear plastic. His little sister just filled it with fog from the fog machine. When he slaps his hand on the plastic cover, it shoots twelve-inch smoke rings out over the audience. The kids love it! That is very cool... Hang on, kid… is your talent having a dad who built you a smoke ring machine? This smacks of the solar system model that "my son made" a few weeks ago. Parental involvement is obvious and necessary for the science fair project, but let's keep the dads out of the talent show, shall we? I need to build one of those and get a fog machine. How cool would it be to have a fog machine in the house?

More Frozen. Two sisters, second grade and kindergarten, doing a “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” duet. They are in full-on Disney Frozen dresses and tiaras. I can’t see them anymore, because their mom is sitting in front of me recording them with her iPad, which is blocking my view of the stage. I am now watching them on the iPad screen instead. They are very cute, but no, I do not want to build a snowman. Quit asking.

Now two girls wearing feather boas and lip-syncing a song I don't know. It’s girl band complaint rock. No like. My boys have already gone. Can we leave yet? My wife says we have to stay until the end. I do not understand her sometimes. My other leg is starting to go numb. My butt is gone.

Wait. There's another girl who is going twice. We are going to be here forever. I am going to die in this room.

Sixth grade girl belting out “This Girl is on Fire.” She is awesome. She gives me goose bumps. She gives me hope. For the first time since the guitar/drum kids I do not want to run out of this room. There is no way I could run out of this room anyway. Not on these legs and without a butt.

Sixth grade boy doing a solo hip hop dance routine. I can't concentrate because my feet are now going to sleep. He is good. He can spin on one knee. I would try that right now if I thought it would fix my butt and leg problems.

More piano. Another girl wearing a dress and heels. I’m really starting to think we should have dressed our boys a little better this morning. She curtsied at the end. Wow, professional.

Older girl now on piano. She is wearing jeans and a T-shirt. Vindication! Holy cow, she is really good. She is better than really good. I guess when you're that good you don't need to dress up. My boys are not that good. We need to put our boys in tuxedos next time. Some kids’ cell phone just rang in the middle of her performance. I have no words for how wrong that is on so many levels.

Sixth grade girl with legs as tall as she is. Ballet/ hip-hop/gymnastics. If she ever grows into her legs she will be six-foot-six.

Two more little girls singing “Do You Want to Build a Snowman.” Their cuteness can no longer outweigh my growing distain for this song. I hate Frozen.

Yet another girl wearing a Frozen dress. Kindergartner. She is signing “Let it Go.” I would let it go, but you elementary school girls won't let me. I might not be able to walk, but I’ll bet I could crawl out that side door right there.

Three sixth grade girls in tutus and Mexican hats singing “I'm a Little Teapot.” Now another one is rapping about a teapot. What fresh hell is this? The other three just came back on stage to a hip-hop song. One of them is dressed in a cow costume complete with udders. I have no words for how much I don't want to be here.

More hip-hop dance. Large group of sixth-graders. I think I blacked out during their routine and came to during the applause. It’s over. Is it really over? A teacher is speaking and the kids are getting up. It really is over.

I tried to stand on my dead legs, but they would not cooperate. I have fallen and I can’t get up. Drag me, honey. Just drag me. We need to get out of here before they realize it was only thirty-one acts!

See you soon,


Copyright © 2014 Marc Schmatjen

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