“I Never”: Parenting version!

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Remember that college drinking game, I never?

Oh, stop lying. You know you played. You probably just don’t remember it clearly.

Someone would say “I never…” and then tack on a true statement about something outlandish they’ve done. And then everyone else who had done the same outlandish thing would have to take a giant gulp of whatever cheap beer was the only thing you could afford. As the night went on and the keg level lowered, the “I never” statements got progressively more ridiculous, and yet there was always someone else taking a drink right along with you.

OK, ready? Let’s play.

I never bribed my kid with a happy meal or other junk food to just hang in there for five more minutes.

Everyone has to drink on that one.

I never put my daughter’s pants on my son because he had a blow out and I forgot to load the diaper bag.

OK, all you parents of boy/girl twins get to take a drink.

I never yelled to my child to stop licking someone and/or something in public.

I bet a lot of you got to drink on that one.

OK, last one.


I never let my kid pretend to play with a toy boat onstage while a soprano killed herself dramatically behind him with a large knife.

Oh, come on! Tell me I’m the only one?


It all started about a month ago with an email from my daughter’s ballet school. The Pittsburgh Opera Theater was looking for a kid to play Trouble in their prescription of Madama Butterfly. They were especially interested in a little peanut of a child, around 5 or 6, who could pass for 3ish. Now, you may not know me in real life, but making peanut children is my specialty. Between my husband and myself, we will never, ever make a basketball player. I honestly was not thinking “I am going to make my kid A STAR!” What I was thinking was “They need a kid. I have a kid. I should take him.”

I almost didn’t. Daniel has reached the boogery stage of five where I usually start rethinking my decisions to homeschool. Do I really want to spend day after day with a kid who calls me an idiotic creep when he gets angry? A kid who yells dramatically from time-out “You can’t do this to me! I don’t deserve this!” And the day of the audition he was being particularly five. Daddy was out of town. We all had colds. I believe I delivered my decision to him by yelling in exasperation “If I can’t trust you to listen to me, how can I possibly trust you to take direction from someone else? No audition.” He responded by calling me an idiotic creep, bursting into tears, and dramatically yelling that he had dreamed of being on stage all his life and he didn’t deserve to be told we weren’t going.

See? The boy is a born diva.

I actually forgot all about it and so did Daniel. When my husband got home from his retreat, my husband asked when we were leaving. It was then I realized that I had forgotten to let the stage manager know we wouldn’t be going. Completely on the fly and completely ignoring my usual “stick to your guns” stance, I loaded Daniel up and headed into downtown Pittsburgh at rush hour. Traffic wasn’t too bad, but finding parking was a killer.

I probably could have just not shown up, because there were a ton of kids there. Those of you who are on my Facebook feed know what happened next.

First they had a stand in for Cio-Cio and tested the kids for height. No sense keeping a kid if they blocked the flow of sound. About half the children were dismissed.

Daniel made the first cut.

Next they had the practice sailing a pretend boat (re: a roll of blue tape) very slowly and carefully across the back of the stage area. No sense keeping a kid who couldn’t follow direction. Another bunch of little ones were dismissed.

Daniel made the second cut.

Then they brought in the amazing soprano playing Cio-Cio. The were instructed to run to her and kneel while she sang Tu, tu piccola iddio.  Here’s the Met version. Note the creepy puppet. With a real kid, Madama Butterfly covers the ears of the child while she is singing under the guise of caressing them. It’s actually a fair amount of man-handling and can get pretty loud. I know this because one kid ran offstage crying with his hands over his ears.

Daniel made the third cut.

And then there were four children left. After testing them a bit more on how they could take direction, I heard Daniel ask loudly and a bit impatiently, “So, am I in?”

He was.

He and another sweet little girl would be playing Trouble. The other two would be alternates.

And I was so excited that I forgot to ask important questions like “So, are you going to blindfold my kid while the soprano offs herself, or will he be offstage?”

Turns out he wouldn’t be blindfolded, but neither would be be offstage. He would be on a corner, playing with a toy boat and looking at one of the assistant stage managers whose only job at that moment was to keep him looking at her and not at the scene behind him.

As they staged it, I realized that if I saw this in the theater, I would immediately judge any mother who let her child take part in such a disturbing scene.

And yet here we are.


Daniel’s taking it like a champ though. We talked about how his “Opera Mommy” loved her child so much, she would do anything so that he could go to America. And she thought that this was the only, only way.

That’s what Daniel calls her, his opera mommy. Isn’t that just too precious?

Anyway, I thought he was handling it all really great… until I caught him with a butter knife, knocking out the final few notes, yelling “MORDE!” and pretend-stabbing himself.

Um… at least he’s learning some Italian?


I never let my kid pretend to play with a toy boat onstage while a soprano killed herself dramatically behind him with a large knife.

I know there are at least three other mamas who have to knock back a drink with me on this one.


  1. //

    Loved starting my day with the big laugh this post gave me.

    Are we going to play quarters next week here at SOJ?

    Love your sassy spunk Annette. I would love to take you out for a beer next time I’m in Pittsburgh!!

    1. //

      That would be awesome! Although, I am more of a rum and coke kind of girl. 😉

  2. //

    The “Morde!” clip is the best video on the entire internet. Hands down.

  3. //

    Ok this is high-sterical! I remember being really worried a while back that my son always identified with the bad guys in everything. I was really limiting media at the time, with the occasional Veggie Tale movie, but even then, he would be the bad guy! It didn’t matter. So I put it to a forum, and the consensus was that kids need to play this way to actually learn to understand and deal with these various emotions. (That’s the serious side) I buy that. However I also think boys love knives and guns, it’s something they are born with, can’t do a thing about it!
    “I never let my son play with guns and knives (not real ones!)”

    1. //

      I think you get bonus Mommy points if they aren’t real ones.

  4. //

    I greatly appreciate your irreverent reverence for life!

  5. //

    great post.. i needed a good laugh today:)

  6. //

    This post made me laugh and boy did I need it this morning!! And I feel better about having to take a drink after “My kid has never licked a public toilet seat.”

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