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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Habit #1 in Action: Read My Lips

Last Year's Song: Walking On Sunshine Glee Mash-Up
The 4th grader's school has a lip sync concert every year.

Yes, I agree, it's like some weird caricature of suburbia: a lip sync concert; but it happens. 

This is our third year here, and our third concert. I wasn't going to let the 4th grader be in it this year because the last two, the concert happened on the same night (of course) as her older sister's Science and Learning Fair at her totally different school, and which was a much more worthwhile endeavor (shhh, don't tell the 4th grader.) Plus also, as Junie B. Jones might say, there were like three months of rehearsing the lip sync routines, which was a nightmare of coordination. 

But this year, they've moved the concert up to the end of January, making rehearsal time much shorter, and eliminating the conflict with the 8th grader's  Learning Fair. 

So I let her do it. 

Which means the wrangling over song choice began for her. Oh, and the ducking of responsibility/refusing to be the parent rep for me. 

I think I mentioned that the 4th grader has this friend, a sort-of minx-in-training, a queen bee wanna be? Anyway, the kid is pushy, not just with her friends, but with adults, too. This gets on my nerves. She was in a different class than my child last year, and we didn't see her much, but they ended up together this year, and the merriment began again. I've decided that the best way to cement this friendship would be to admit to any negative feelings about the kid, so I suck it up and wait for time to take its course. 

Anyhoo, the wrangling over song choice involved my 4th grader and Pushy Girl canvassing others in the group about their choices. Everyone agreed on something called "Bang, Bang, Bang," except one girl. I was already up to the neck hearing about the ins and outs of the songs by then, but they agreed that since one girl didn't like the song, they'd pick another one. I was pretty sure "Bang, Bang, Bang," was going to turn out to be inappropriate (just a hunch, based on, gee, I'm not sure what?--the title?) anyway, but I would let the parent rep, whoever she might be (I heard rumors it was my neighbor) put the kibosh on it. 

I said, Why don't make up a ballot with your top few choices, have everyone get together at recess, and vote?

I then had to explain what a ballot is--even though she'd come with me to vote in our recent town elections-- but hey, teachable moment. I didn't mention chads. 

The 4th grader thought this was a good idea, and told Pushy Girl. This was on a Friday. 

On Monday or Tuesday evening, Pushy Girl called. I hear the 4th grader saying, "Oh, okay. Uh-huh," etc. Not sounding happy. She hangs up and reports, "I guess the song is Price Tag."

Well, I rather like "Price Tag," but clearly the developing red eye rims and puckering chin on the 4th grader indicated she was not so happy with that choice. She said that, according to Pushy Girl, all the other girls had decided on that song, so that was the song. 

Have I mentioned I'm an Aries? 

Have I mentioned that I find Pushy Girl annoying?

The husband and I looked at each other. 

I said something along the lines of, Well, if you don't like the song, why don't you speak up? After all, when that other girl didn't like the song, you all chose another one? 

Shrugs. Fatalistic commentary like, They all chose this one and so that's the one they want to do. Tears. The 4th grader is not one to express her emotions unless under duress; she's a swallower, not a blurter, so the tears were particularly heart-wringing. 

Me: You have a couple choices here. You can go along with the song. You can quit Lip Sync. Or you can speak up for yourself and say you don't like the song, that you thought you were going to vote on the song, and that it hurt your feelings that they made this decision without you.

Lots of talk ensued, with the husband and I convincing her it was right to speak up.  Most important, I felt, was that she tell Pushy Girl that she didn't like being treated this way--going behind her back, not listening to her suggestion about the ballot, etc. So this took a fair amount of time. Several minutes. Several looonnnngggg minutes. 

Finally the 4th grader, definitely nervous, got a piece of paper and wrote down what she wanted to say. Then she called up Pushy Girl and said her piece. 

I'd like to say that everything went swimmingly. At first, the 4th grader sounded a little wobbly; but when she met some resistance, she restated herself loudly and clearly. Not fair to decide without her. Wanted to do a ballot vote on Monday after Thanksgiving. If "Price Tag" won by ballot vote, she would go along with it.

Of course, Pushy Girl doesn't like to be talked back to. In truth, neither does the 4th Grader. The conversation settled into a rut: vote by ballot vs. "Price Tag" by fiat. 

After about ten minutes, maybe fifteen, I decided enough was enough. Trench warfare wasn't required. Parental intervention was. I asked to speak to Pushy Girl's mother. I said that the girls were having a tough time deciding on the song, that my child was suggesting they vote with a ballot on Monday, etc, etc. Pushy Girl's mom agreed readily. End of conversation. 

Then I contacted the mom I thought had agreed to be the parent in charge of the lip sync group. She confirmed, and said she'd already nixed all the girls' song choices because of bad language or raunchy content, that she was going through Disney songs on YouTube, and the girls could listen to a couple of them, and vote by ballot on Monday after Thanksgiving. 

On Monday morning, the 4th grader wrote up her ballot, including the songs suggested by the parent rep. 

Monday afternoon, she came home, delighted to note that they'd voted, and that NO ONE had voted for "Price Tag." (If the significance of this escapes you, my tens of readers,  don't worry; it took me a minute to note she thought this meant a score for her against Pushy Girl.) I said nothing. I think that was wise. I thought it might be a score for Disney. 

So they'll be performing to "Dancing Crazy" by Miranda Cosgrove on Jan. 27th at the town middle school. 

I don't feel so bad about the concert now, since the 4th Grader has had a Learning Experience. That's as worthwhile as the 8th Grader's Learning Fair. I'm just going to buy whatever costume I'm told to buy for her, insert ear plugs, sit back, and enjoy the show.


  1. So relatable! I was raised to be acquiescent, so having two of my three daughters be badly in need of assertiveness training became my belated rehab for the Perennially Overlooked and Resentful.

    Now I can spot and manage minxes of all ages in any setting.

  2. I enjoyed reading this and was curious how it would end. You're right there's a learning experience here. Good for the 4th grader who spoke up!

  3. Learning experiences for Mom and Daughter, no? Yes!