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Tuesday, June 1, 2010


My son wrote a comedy act for the 2nd grade talent show and got rejected.
His original presentation involved a book club that meets its unfortunate demise when a canibal shows up. (I tried not to take this personally since I'm the only member of the family in a book club.) When I told him it was too sophisticated for his audience, he shrugged and went back to work.

The new piece was more fitting, I thought—he beguiled his big brother and me with jokes about The Jonas Brothers and phlegm. But somehow the teacher didn't see the humor in it. Not to be deterred, he's now busy in his bedroom writing another skit. This one's about Walt Disney rising from his tomb (as he calls it), chainsaw in hand, and slaying all the people who turned Christopher Robin into a girl.

What does a mother do? Tell her kid to sanitize his stuff and give the grown ups what they want to hear? Clearly, this one won't go over at all. And I can't set him up for disappointment. I promised him he could perform the edgier stuff in a night club after the talent show is over, and I hope he doesn't hold me to that. But, in his strange little way, my kid has taught me not to take rejection too seriously. And to keep writing stuff my way.

I've spent the past decade squeezing myself into a mold I can't stand because I want to get published—and paid. Today I sat behind my desk and rejected an absolutely beautiful poem because I read that its author had been fired from a job after he wrote it. I knew a handful of vocal readers would make my life miserable and I might be the next one with the pink slip. So, in an act of self-preservation, I shoved the miraculous little collection of words away. We all do what we must.

But maybe I don't have to pass this omen on down the line. We'll have our own talent show. And this rebellious mom is going to make popcorn and put up the strobe light for open mic night in our kitchen, where we can really be real.

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