What About Us?

Yesterday was the day of the spring show at the Rafael Hernández School. Remarkably, the Parent Imperfect has never missed one of these during the nine years that he has had a child attending the school. One of these shows happens just after Thanksgiving, and another at the end of the school year. Half of the school participates in each show, and it is usually a highlight of the year for the PI and many other parents who crowd into the school auditorium to take all sorts of photographs and videos that never quite come out because of the poor lighting.

Yesterday’s show was entitled, “What About Us?” and was a tribute to Michael Jackson who died under the strangest of circumstances almost a year ago. They shows usually have the children doing a wide variety of things on stage, but this year it was almost all dance. Connie’s class did a strange, if creative, rendition of “Black or White.” Even though the PI was near the stage, ready to take more photos that wouldn’t come out, it took him at least a minute to realize that the mature-looking girl dancing in black and orange was, in fact, his daughter. Like many of the numbers in the show, Connie’s used video projected onto a large screen at the back of the stage. In Connie’s case, the number began with a short video of a father screaming at his young boy to turn down his music, and the boy then setting up a wall of sound to literally blow his corpulent father out of the house.

By the end of the show, the PI was emotional, as he always is, and he left feeling that the music and arts teacher had done it again. But, once outside, he realized that some of the other parents felt quite differently about the show. One person didn’t like the idea of glorifying a man with Michael Jackson’s many personal issues. Others thought that the use of video added little to the show and had made it impossible to see some of the kids dancing during some numbers. Whether the use of the video was good or not, some felt that the content of some of the video had been “over the top,” scary for young children and generally inappropriate. Still others insisted that the sexual innuendo that is always in these shows was over the line this time. Liz shared many of these perceptions of the show. The PI could certainly see the basis of the criticism, but had to admit that he didn’t leave the auditorium feeling strongly about any of these issues. He would have loved to have been at the meeting of the school’s “climate committee” last night, where the show was probably discussed by a somewhat diverse group of parents. He would have loved to be there, but he missed it, as he has most other parent meetings this year.

The school year is also coming to a close for Vince, but his show is a different one. The spring show at the nation’s oldest public school is made up of final exams that really insist that the students show command of the material of the entire year. This is a first for V., who never had to really study that seriously to get very acceptable grades at the RHS. The PI is trying to support the process as best he can, but it is a great challenge for him to find the right balance between perturbed insistence that the boy stop texting and study, and encouragement…if there is a right balance between these two. Unfortunately, the results of these efforts matter. The grades don’t go onto any permanent record, but if Vince does badly, especially in Math and Latin, he will have to go to school for much of the summer. That could make the summer a lot less fun for several members of the household, especially Vince, himself. The PI should stop flapping his fingers and go see if the boy is studying the proper use of the Parts of Speech. Vince will certainly welcome the intervention…NOT!

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