Saturday, March 08, 2008

Parental Rights of Passage

Today I entered another one of those Parental Rights of Passage. The one where you stand in a long, hot line with your kids for several hours so they can get an autograph from someone they won't remember in 20 years.
I remember being 12 and *having* to get the autograph of...... someone. Donnie...... something, maybe. We stood in a line on a cold Wisconsin day for probably 2 or so hours. By the time we got up there, I had nothing for him to sign. It was my first signing, I assumed he'd have pictures of himself to sign. I didn't know they expected me to buy his tape (yes, it was that long ago!). So I had him sign my jean jacket (again, yes it was that long ago!) I was cool in school for about a week when everyone wanted to see the signature. Then it started to smear a little from everyone's greasy hands touching it, so I cut it out, hung it on my wall, and sewed some material in place of the hole. I still can't remember who that guy was!

Back to today, at the PX (Post Exchange). We arrived at a little after 11:00, having already been to an Easter egg hunt earlier in the morning. The guest of honor that had half the PX flooded with screaming girls was Keke Palmer. Who??? Ok, so it's not quite as exciting as Hillary Duff, or Zac Efron. I mean, they probably don't have time to come to a dumpy little base like Fort Polk. I'm surprised Keke came! If you have no idea who I'm talking about, check out Akeela and the Bee. She's Akeela. Or, if you have Disney Channel junkies like I do, she's the lead double dutch girl on the movie Jump In. Anyway, when we saw the poster advertising that she would be here a few weeks ago, Louisa immediately knew who she was and was very excited.
There was a small stage set up and Keke came out and did two songs off her CD for us (because all those young kids are crossover artists, you know). After she did her songs she bent down to hug a girl and, well, things got kinda scary for a second. Several girls grabbed her trying to pull her into the crowd. A few more girls grabbed her hair, and someone snatched the bracelet off her wrist. You could see she was frightened, and she managed to pull herself out of the grasp of all these girls. I felt bad for her, though. These young fans need to learn that these artists/actors are real kids just like them. They don't like their hair pulled and their bracelets stolen.
There was no crowd control, which didn't surprise me. I'm not sure why anyone would assume that 200 crazy girls would easily form a single file line. And more than the girls... their *parents*! The parents here, they're competitive with a capital C. They want their kids to be first, most important, always right. You say it's like that everywhere, you haven't met a military parent! The parents were the worst at the shoving and the pushing and the, "Hurry up, get up there! Push in front of those people! Wiggle your way up front!" And the loudest when someone dared to budge in front of their kid!
Louisa and Drew were at the front of the line near the signing table when Keke started signing, but because they were two small kids without their mom in their to play Mama Bear (I had Hunter off to the side in his stroller and there was no room in that mob for a stroller) they kept getting pushed back, and back, and back until they ended up at the back of the line. I found them back there fighting because the crowd scared Drew and he was crying, and Louisa was upset that so many people pushed in front of them.
Sometimes I forget that Drew is only 6. He's so tall and he can act like such a big boy, that I forget he's not that big. And, of course a pushing, screaming, hot and sweaty crowd of people much taller than him is going to scare him.
At one point Keke's dad/manager made an announcement that she could only sign for another 15 minutes. By the looks of the crowd ahead of the kids, and not only ahead but the ones constantly streaming in from the side, we weren't going to make it. But we had already been there for more than 2 hours, so we were going to tough it out. Either my watch was much faster than his, or he gave us a generous 15 minuets, because we made it.... barely. We were literally one of the last people she signed. Even then she took a second to stop and talk to the kids. They had the Jump In soundtrack for her to sign, which has a few songs on it sung by her. She told them she loved that movie and asked if they liked it. They of course emphatically nodded their heads (we've seen it close to 20 times!) Then she signed both the CD and the insert, so they both have an autograph.
Whew! That was close. My heart was beating so fast. I was sure we weren't going to get there in time and that our last 2 and a half hours would have been in vain.
And poor Hunter. Sitting that whole time in his stroller, asking me "Please" in his sweet little voice with his hands folded so cutely, hoping I'd let him out.
He did find ways to entertain himself, though. A few examples follows (does this kid know how to work a camera, or what?!):

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