I knew I was in trouble the moment my daughter insisted on signing up for her (pre)school pageant. Having been "stage-mothered" at one point into joining the neighborhood Santacruzan in my awkward teens, I promised myself (and my then future imaginary daughter) that no way would I ever trade places with Anabelle Rama.
Alas, the future imaginary daughter turned out to be a 100% girly girl with a thing for the spotlight. And so it was that in the initial meeting with parents and the "creative" directors, I was lost in the pageantry of it all. While the more stagey of the parents were debating on the merits of the "creative" gown versus the "formal" gown, I was mentally calculating the investments. And wondering why the kids need makeup in the first place.
The day of the pictorial was a harbinger of the real thing. As the kids were waiting in line for a dab or two of pictorial foundation, one (obviously stage) mother corralled a portion of the library and surrendered her daughter to the ministrations of her own, exclusive makeup artist. Talk about imeldific!
At last, after two weeks of incessant rehearsals, I had reached the point of no return: I would have to have my day as Annabelle Rama. The day of the "Search for Super Duo Models" turned out to be "Bring Your Own Bading Day," with fairies of all shapes and sizes fawning over the little girls and boys. Bedlam reigned backstage as parents and the coterie of alalays elbowed each other out for precious floor space. Imeldific, she who commandeered the library a few days back, was back with a vengeance. This time, she had the entire dressing room to herself, her alalays and her daughter, who didn't seem too happy with all the fuss. The sister—who also had to be forced to be stage mother for two weeks—did a McGyver and had to pick the lock to the props room so the rest of us mortals would have a semblance of a dressing room.
As the night wore on (do pageants ever start on time on these islands?) and the kids were weighed down by heavy makeup and heavy "creative" gowns, I was transformed into a literal stage mother. I had to "lurk" in the wings because Little Star was getting sleepier and sleepier by the minute.
But in the end, not even the heels, the constricting clothes and the put-on “adulthood” could stop the kids from being kids. While the host droned on and on about Judge Number One being this and that, the kids turned the stage into one huge playground, trading mock flying kicks and playing hide and seek.
Just as I was about to say my so longs to the innate Anabelle, the little girl—giddy perhaps from two trips to the centerstage—surveyed the scene and calmly declared that she won’t be a doctor anymore.
That she will, in fact, be an “artista.”