I was at a local mall with my girls over the weekend and a woman approaches me saying she's with a talent group that casts kids for commercials and tv shows. She asks me if the girls can come to an audition the following day. And before I can think SHAM, Maya practically yells out, "HELL YES." Mina's with me, raising her little eyebrow suspiciously at this woman. The woman says to Mina in a high-pitched squeal, "Would you like to do it too?" Mina smiles, but stares at her. The woman persists, "Can you say something like, 'Mom, What's for dinner!'?" Mina's like, fuck off.
After the woman hands me instructions with a few lines to memorize, she leaves us so she can troll the mall to bolster the hopes of other children. It was all Maya could talk about. "Maybe I'll meet Raven from That's So Raven. She's so cool. This is going to be great. I don't care about money. I just want to meet Raven. Maybe I'll be on her show." I realize I have to assemble a speech that isn't dream-crushing, but weighs down this situation with a bit of reality. (Parenting is hard, fyi) My speech starts, "Uh, Maya . . ." Her face is beaming and I fight the urge to just blurt out that she's the most beautiful and funniest and smartest child ever and of course they NEED her on That's So Raven. "Well, you see . . ." (Why must I be the dick?) I tell her that though this is totally exciting, Raven will not be there tomorrow and this is all just to see if this is something she's interested in, and MAYBE there's an opportunity and if she IS interested, it's like anything else; You gotta work hard, blah, blah, blah, blah . . . Maya says, "Sure Mami. I love Raven!" Then I say, "You're smart and beautiful and funny. Have fun tomorrow."
So, we go home and practice non-stop. I want to tell Maya ENOUGH ALREADY WITH THE GODDAMN BUBBLEGUM TOOTHPASTE, but she wants to memorize the assigned snippet of commercial perfectly. I tell her to be clear and loud, but then I suggest, Let's sing it opera style. Then we recite it how the cast of Chicago would do it. Then we try to rap it. Then we do it blues style and reggae style, and back to opera . . . I say, "Mina, what's your line?" And she says, "Mom, what's for dinner? Yum, that's good." And I say, "No, it's 'Mom, what's for dinner? That's smells yummy!'" And Mina says, "Yum, that smells good" 50x's in a row until I just say, "You're smart and beautiful and funny."
At the audition, I get a tiny taste of what stage moms are like because the second I walk in with the girls, one mom eyeballs us up and down and says, "Your kids are cute," with a sneer and disdain in her voice. And I'm like, Let the hating begin! I want to tell the girls to get used to this kind of bullshit, but I just sign them in with a big smile like this is no big deal. One of the organizers comes out to warm the kids up so they're not so nervous which is good because Maya has slipped into some kind of abyss that I'm trying to talk her down from. The organizer makes us all stand up, parents too, and we play Simon Says and dance The Chicken Dance. And the girls and I are stoked because that stuff is fun to us and we dance the Chicken Dance how Missy Elliot would with extra rump shaking, some krumping; we are also making chicken noises. I look around the room and some kids are not standing and then I see half the parents sitting with their arms crossed with a look like, "Give me a break." Damn, where's the goof-ball joy, people?
Maya is standing in line waiting her turn. Mina is right behind her. And I tell them to do the focus move from Karate Kid II, the one before he breaks the six blocks of ice, where he's all yoga-like with heavy breathing. Which, of course, we all do together. The other moms hate us at this point. Maya goes up and does great. She's nervous, but thrilled. Mina goes up and as I'm waiting for the sweet, "Yum, that's good”, she belts out "Mom, what's for dinner? THAT SMELLS YUMMY!" The cad.
They're supposed to call us within two weeks. In the meantime I will have mentally paid for college, quit my job as I take my geniuses to auditions and write a great novel while they wrap up another episode of That's So Raven. Did I say that out loud?