Megan, Theater and the Special Needs Boy

November 8, 2008 at 10:08 pm 10 comments

halloween-2008-007My 7th grader Megan has been practicing all week on her monologue for a UIL theater competition here in Katy. She’s really into it, and frankly she may have the personality for it. Today was the competition and she was nervous (remember your first public speaking event in middle school – yeeeesh). Up at 6 am, school by 7:15 am, first competition at 8:30am.

That’s when it happened.

Megan was the last of 7 girls that were giving monologues in front of a “17 year old big boy” from theater class. The first girls speech ended, that’s when “big boy” says, “you know, all you did was just talk. Better luck next year.” I was a little annoyed, but I don’t really know how these things go. The girl looked terrified.

Girl number two goes next and her performance is received from “big boy” with praise and admiration. I’m still not sure what to think.

Girl number three goes and at the end of her monologue “big boy” says, “well I didn’t really like it. You said ‘like’ too many times (part of the act BTW) and it would have been better if the girl who just went before you had done the performance. Better luck next year.” Now this girl cries sort of silently. But cries. I’m not happy. Courtney, my wife, is giving me looks that say – can this be right?

Oh no, girl number four goes. And after “big boy” tells her that her performance was “boring” and “he’s not into it, that it was choppy” she cries. Wow… So 4 girls, two crying. Big boy continues on. At this point I can see veins in Courtney’s neck pulsing.

Pan to Megan, my 7th grader, and she slumps more in her seat with each monologue. Terror has turned her white.

Another girl goes and and “big boy” tells her, “I didn’t think you were going to make it work. It started out really bad, the beginning and middle weren’t interesting, but got better.” Now all of the girls are emotional wrecks.

Megan’s turn. She is nervous. She does her performance, which usually is better, but makes it through pretty good. I’m on the edge of my seat. BIG BOY SAYS: “I’m just not feeling it. Your story isn’t interesting. I didn’t like it. Maybe you’ll do better next year.”

Megan runs out in tears. Explosive tears. Dreams smashed.

Courtney follows her. Her whole body, face, arms, etc. are RED.

Other moms follow. People meet the crowd of emotions in the hallway. Teachers say, “The judges aren’t even supposed to talk. Reviews are forbidden. Only on paper given later, etc.”

My main goal is to save “big boy’s life” and not end up on the ten o’clock news. Court is ready to “get him”. Have you ever seen a mother wolf protecting her cubs? We are in “cub mode” here. Luckily we get the crowd of emotional parents to the “teachers” and report the abuse. The teachers are really upset. What a debacle.

The school is actually swift in taking care of the problem. They pass all girls to the next round, reprimand “big boy” and make in-person apologize to all girls.

Time for the good stuff.

Turns out the school was short on judges this morning. Two of the three for this category didn’t show. So, they grabbed kids from the “theater department” to judge. “Big boy” was a special needs kid in theater that had volunteered to carry concessions in and setup the concession stand. He was “coraled” into judging the room by someone that had no idea he was “special needs”.

So a “special needs” big boy was in charge of judging a room of emotional 7th grade girls. Wow. You can’t invent shit like this.

I feel bad for everyone. Poor Megan. Poor Big Boy. Poor school.

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Tribute to the Long House at Singing Sand’s West, Crystal Beach Texas

10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Oran Parker  |  November 8, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    Wow. Really? Man…I just don’t know what I would have done it had been my daughter up there. I sometimes think that adults REALLY do forget that the little things that happen to children end up being the things that shape their lives. I hope this all works out for your daughter. I know I would have felt just like you. Thanks for sharing, bro.

  • 2. Chris Atwood  |  November 10, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    Wow, that is something I’ve never even heard of happening.

    I know sometimes more advanced competitors want feedback right there, but as a judge I always wait until all competitors have finished their pieces, and then I’ll offer feedback if it’s wanted.

    Although, even in my written commentaries, I try not to be mean. It’s constructive to say things like “Consider reblocking the piece”, or “You really need to bring it together.”

    And best of luck to your daughter!! Tell her they also have competitions year-round (National Forensic League) in Dramatic and Humorous Interpretation, as well as Duo acting. It’s a great activity (I always did debate and public speaking) to bring confidence at an age where it feels like it can be hard to come by.

  • 3. Jonny Kerr  |  November 30, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    Wow, Aaron… I think I might have been with Courtney on this one. Not towards “big boy” but more along the lines of who appointed him a judge.

  • 4. Dan Keeney, APR  |  December 21, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    Aaron — Since everyone seems to be on the same side of this, which is kind of boring, I’ll take the opposite view, as usual. I’m not defending the lack of tact of the judge, but I will call into question the angry pack of parents.

    With the next season of American Idol being promoted heavily, it seems like a good corolary. The terrible singers that clutter the first couple months of those shows were never told that they are horrible. That they can’t sing. That they should not sing in public if they don’t want to embarrass themselves and/or their friends. That is very helpful information for young people to get. So maybe — just maybe — it is not all bad to have some special needs kid suggest that there is still more work to be done and more improvement necessary. Perhaps having someone deliver the hard truth — play the role of Simon Cowell if you will — can be helpful in a child’s continuous development.

    But as long as enraged parents attack the honest appraiser those lessons will be delayed until the child is older and the learning is that much more painful and public.

    By the way, great story telling. I think Big Boy would have felt it and advanced you to the next round.

  • 5. Ed Schipul  |  December 22, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    Dan – Interesting counter point. Yet we all know Simon is an A-hole. AND he is ONE OF the actors. Performing for our benefit.

    Deadpan delivery of critique to performers seeking a spot on national TV just might be a bit different from 7th graders. So the analogy fails.

    But you know that. So I won’t belabor that point Mr. Contrarian.

    On the other hand it is interesting that none of the parents said anything until all of the children had gone.

  • 6. Zaslony  |  May 18, 2009 at 9:02 am

    Wow somebody obviously didn’t pay attention to what they were doing. i’m surprised they didn’t send one of the teachers to judge.

  • 7. Gry Dla Dzieci  |  June 10, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    What the hell is wrong with this a** hole ? Seriously, had my daughter been a part of this, I would have felt a real need to hurt this guy.
    What about the other judges ? What were they doing when this guy was destroying the whole event ?

  • 8. Odchudzanie  |  June 26, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    Someone should get sued here. I don’t care about the lack of other judges – it’s just rude. But when nobody takes care of special needs kids that’s when I know that there must be something wrong with the school.

  • 9. Nieruchomosci Gryfino  |  July 14, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Didn’t anyone consider suing? I mean in my daughter’s school there are parents trying to sue the school for everything. They should kick there kids out, only they’d probably get sued over that too…

  • 10. wyposazenie hoteli  |  July 24, 2009 at 10:38 am

    Is that a real story? Because if it is I’m shocked. Not because I didn’t know something like that could happen but just because it did happen. Sometimes people are so unfair and minding only their own business – to use other for their own benefit. Hate that.


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November 2008



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