Today, I witnessed a first-run performance by the renowned East Elementary School Kindergarten classes. The performance: “The Cheese Stands Alone.”
It is a story of love and loss, heartbreak and redemption. The protagonist: a poor rat, just wanting to be friends with cheese. The antagonist: a stage full of juvenile cheese.
SPOILER ALERT: By the end, through greater understanding and love, the cheese and rat cultivate a friendship and no longer must stand alone.
I’d like to say that the story warmed my heart and made me a better person, but I can’t. In fact, I barely noticed the gist of the story. Why? I was preoccupied with the fact that my child–my offspring–my pride and joy–watched his dreams of future success and renown shatter into a million pieces upon the stage in the elementary cafeteria.
To my horror, I saw that he had been relegated to the role of “Sharp Cheddar.”
Just typing the words causes tears to well in my eyes. The heartbreak I feel is something no parent should ever suffer.
Now, just so you know I’m not “that parent,” I didn’t expect him to rise to the prominent role of “Cheesy,” the flavor-androgenous spokesperson for the mass of cheese. However, I thought he was at least good enough to rank a zesty “Buffalo Mozzarella” or even the more sublime “Brie.” For that matter, I thought he deserved a shot as a standout “Gouda.” Nope, he was put with the ordinary, bottom-refrigerator-shelf Sharp Cheddar.
Why didn’t they just go all the way and nuke his dreams by making him an outcast “Velveeta?” It’s not like it would have crushed me more than they already did with the cheap, “Always Save” brand Sharp Cheddar. I mean, what cheese company doesn’t make sharp cheddar? They all do. It is ordinary. It’s not a specialty cheese, like so many others. You can even order it at “Red Robin,” and Red Robin can go screw themselves and their cheddar-covered burgers, as far as I’m concerned.
I watched as my poor spawn sang the tunes, but they weren’t the upbeat show tunes as intended. Nope. He was singing the blues, and all I heard was a funeral march.
I wanted him to be successful. I wanted him to attend a top-flight college and be a professional. Now, I’ll be lucky to get him a mowing job with the county. So quickly I descended from high hopes to forlorn desperation.
I’ll still be positive. I’ll try to accentuate the positives while other parents look at me with pursed lips, silently pitying my predicament.
Friends a few days ago now avoid me. The conversations are abrupt.
“Hey, I saw Tucker in the play, he did a great job as “Aged Parmesian.”
“Thanks. I saw……..your kid. He looked like he made the most of being Sharp Cheddar.”
“You know, we’re just happy that he tried his best.”
“Sure. It’s all about just trying your best and being a part of the team. That’s what we told Tucker. Hey, we’re sending him to space camp this summer, are you…”
“No, I think we’ll just keep him at home and work on a few things ourselves.”
“You know, that’s probably best. Well, must go. So many exciting opportunities to plan for Tucker.”
They shuffle away as quickly as possible–off with the other space camp parents, even the bitch whose daughter portrayed a happy-go-lucky “Monterrey Jack.”
As I slowly exit the parking lot, I see them all gathered happily near Tucker’s parent’s minivan. When they see me driving away, their smiles fade, replaced by knowing glances to one-another.
My mood turns to anger on the drive.
I won’t’ accept blame for this one. It’s the teacher. The music teacher! She is to blame. She has her favorites. Her little pet Brandon, always getting the perks. I must blame her. In the year 2012, it is the law. Parents and children are immune to blame. Accountability must be focused on teachers, staff, and administrators. They must be held responsible for all shortcomings. They deserve it. They earned it.
We are still hopeful. He might still go to law school. There, he will be magnificent, even if a few bad faculty say otherwise. We know better. Afterward, he’ll deserve the best job possible, with high pay and benefits, and he’ll again be magnificent.
Anything less will be the fault of others–the spoiled and the privileged, and that damned costume with the words “Sharp Cheddar.”