The End of an Era

I've been struggling to find words to capture this day. Jonathan is graduating from high school tomorrow. And as you may or may not know, he's been homeschooled all these years. 

Jon Darby 5 yrs

Starting from first grade, he's been home with me and Eric and truthfully, we did a whole lot of un-schooling. That is, we let the kids find the things they were interested in and encouraged them to pursue those. 

Jon Darby 1st grade

Jon was always more interested in dressing up (every day!) and playing games that relied heavily on his imagination.

Would it surprise you to know that he's going to be pursuing an acting career? Specifically in comedy. I'm proud of him for having the courage to go after what he wants, but I'm scared for him, too.

Because Jon is the youngest of my four kids, this is obviously not my first rodeo graduation. 

When Amy walked in her bright red robes in 2001 twirling her gold Honor Thespian tassel, I clapped and cheered. I think I openly wept. There was no more proud mom at that moment.

Then Adam was asked to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at his graduation in 2004. I know I clapped and cheered. Louder than anyone. There might have been tears of relief mingled with joy.

Lucy did her thing in 2011. Of course, I clapped and cheered and shed my tears. I was blogging by then. Here's what I wrote about her graduation speech: Exact Change.

Now it's Jonathan's turn. He walks tomorrow and will be giving a speech, and I'll be honest, I'm much more tender about this moment than all the others. The other ones joke that it's because Jon is my favorite, but every other mom who has more than one child will understand that when "the baby" reaches a milestone it signals the end of an era for the parents. 


The only word to describe it is that I feel extremely "tender." As the mom who has homeschooled him for his entire school career, I'm the one who worried as he struggled to read. Who hoped he'd learn how to learn. Who made sure he ate and slept and did his chores and finished his work and said please and thank you. 

I woke up one day and in place of my sweet little guy was a man. Of course I went through this with each of my other kids, but this is the last one. The quiet and painfully shy one. The one who could barely speak up at our dinner table. I wrote about that here: The Biggest Insult.

Every time he takes the stage I'm blown away that my introverted Jon can command such a presence. That he is such a natural leader and gatherer of people. And that he's so darn funny.

Jon is the beneficiary of my blogging years and so I've managed to capture all of his best moments of growth on stage. 

This year he was Lazar Wolf in his high school production of Fiddler on the Roof.


Here's my favorite scene that he's in with his best friend, Nathan.  "To Life." 

And then, there came that bittersweet moment when he took his final bows.


And thanked our friend and the only director he's ever known. (I can't even look at this photo without weeping.)


So here he goes. Off to find his way in the world. And Eric and I are left shaking our heads in amazement and wonder. 


To steal a line from Fiddler (Sunrise, Sunset), "When did he grow to be so tall? Wasn't it yesterday when they were small?" 

We are thrilled. We are delighted. We are left scratching our heads and wondering, "How did that happen so quickly?"

Tomorrow I'll cry and pray and hug my graduate. And I'll thank God that I was privileged to have a daily front row seat to The Jonathan Show. 


I'm taking a week off to plan and prepare (amidst my tears and joy) the biggest blow-out of a graduation celebration we've ever had around here. 

Congratulations, Jonathan and all the Class of 2014. Mazel tov, my friend. Better yet, here's TO LIFE.


My life has been as crazy as a fiddler on a roof

I know I haven't been blogging much lately. It takes a certain amount of creativity to write. (A lot, actually!) And sadly, all my creative energy has gone into another area of my life....

Let me explain....

Specifically, I have been acting as "hero support" for my daughter, Lucy's high school production of Fiddler on the Roof.

I have spent lots of hours over the past weeks and months designing backdrops, brainstorming over set pieces, watching rehearsals, choosing costumes, and collaborating with amazingly talented parents, teachers, and students to get this production from script to stage.

In other words, for the past five months, I have been eating, sleeping, and breathing Russian Jews. ;-)

(Oh, yeah, I went to Miami for a week, too, but that's not important right now. =D)


I love, love, love seeing their characters come to life as they put on their costumes and make-up.


Speaking of makeup...My friend, Leesa, who shall henceforth be known as the Golden Goddess of Stage Makeup made these kids into characters. Notice the faux facial hair on the guys above.

And the aging frown lines on the matchmaker, Yente...


...and the scary ghost-ness of Grandma Tzeitel. Just brilliant. I love it!
Gma tzeitel
I love when set pieces that we've agonized over work beautifully.

For example, I really, really wanted Fruma Sarah - who is a tiny little thing in real life - to have a larger-than-life-and-other-worldly look for when she comes back to haunt Tevye in the dream sequence. We brainstormed for weeks and months about how to make this happen. Our friends, Ray & Rechelle came up with the concept of a high, rolling chair, which they built and it was a wonderful stroke of genius, (Thanks, guys!) but what would that look like on stage?

The day of the first performance (I know. Shut up.) I decided to just shred tons of fabric to cover the girl and the chair, making it look like a floaty dress. *insert heavy sigh of relief here* (Can you say procrastination?)

But, isn't this the coolest thing ever??

Fruma sarah 2

I love to watch the story unfold on stage. Even though I have spent months watching them rehearse, there's something so magical about everything coming together so beautifully. 

Golde and tevye

I love when concepts that we sketched and argued over on paper look effortless during the performance.

(FYI: The bottle dance was done with empty, plastic Perrier bottles, weighted with rice, and painted black, with a metal disk glued to the bottoms, and heavy duty magnets sewn into the hats.)

And it looked awesome. And I loved that the audience made the appropriate ooh and aah sounds during the dance.

Bottle dancers 

I love how, with each passing show under their belts, the actors became more and more comfortable in their collective skins and it totally showed in their performances.


I had a love-hate relationship with the backdrop. Eric and I painted the 15 by 26 foot backdrop in our driveway. Actually, HE painted the broad strokes of the sky and I detailed the "shtetl" known as Anatevka. (We were attempting to make it Chagall-esque, but it ended up looking a lot more Van Gogh-Starry-Night-ish. Not that that was a bad thing.)


So that's where all my creativity has been going these past months. It's gone into costumes, and sets, and backdrops, and researching Russian Jews.

They performed last weekend, and I finally got to sit in the dark theater and take photos and applaud.

And genuinely, I do love doing it all. I love the brainstorming and the running around and the collaboration. When the details of a show like this comes together, a certain kind of magic happens.

But making this magic happen has metaphorically emptied my creative pockets. ;-)