Secret Juggler: What to Say to Parents During Lessons & Face Painting

Monday, November 25th 2018

Juggling artist image juggler_paint_full

The extent and degree of parents interfereing and meddling during face painting -and even juggling lessons- knows NO BOUNDS.

I could write tombs complaining about it.

Fortunately for you that is what I have my hubsand for.

Anyone who knows me well knows this is the NUMBER ONE challenge to being a face painter.  I fiercely believe that -in addition to parenthood- learning to deal with it gracefully is literally the spiritual quest I was assigned in this lifetime.  I expect to strive desperately all the way to my grave to learn how to gracefully tell interfering parents to; truly, kindly, sincerely, pretty please, fuck all the way off.  Even the most well-intended ones.  Because face it, all of us parents are the most well intended and clueless of assholes.



FP Permission slip.gif

Recently however I have been trying this one, when I have a parrot like this:

Me: “Ok darling, look this way.” 

Parent: “Look at her!”

Me:  “Great now close your eyes gently.”

Parent:  “Close your eyes!!!”

Then I turn to the parent and say,

“May I have your permission to provide the guidance during the face painting?”

Usually they say yes, and often it works.   As in, they shut up and watch the magic instead of try to manage it.



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Another one is I have these little eyeballs that fit on my fingers.  When I remember, I try to do all the painting wearing the eyeballs.   Overall they look cute and my hand just looks very busy painting.  Then when the parent takes their perfectly concentrated, calm, willing child out from under my spell to say something pointless and distracting, eg;  “JOEY what are you BEING?!?!!!!?!?!!!!!”  The paint comes screeching to a halt as the child jerks their head to look at their parent.

My hand becomes a little puppet, turns to stare at the parent and slowly opens its mouth in wide-eyed astonishment, dropping the brush. 


Amazingly, the parent generally seems to get embarrassed by this little inanimate focus and generally fucks all the way off!  So far it’s been effective enough you would think I would know where I put my little eyeballs…  (!)



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This one happened yesterday, as I was giving an impromptu juggling lesson to a child.  In defense of the mom, her child had special needs, and there’s no way for her to know how comfortable and experienced I am with that demographic.  But to her discredit, the child was like 19 years old… hard to imagine she has never encountered a scenario in which she would be learn to, on some occasions, allow a stranger to talk to him without echoing their every phrase.  (?)

So there I am, offering my tried-and-true yet extremely counter-intuitive first couple of steps to juggling.  (The goal to everyone’s dismay, after focusing our intention, is to THROW. ONE. BALL.  Trust me, no one can do it without trying to catch it or freak out and pick it up.)

So there’s mom, picking up balls and telling her son what to do, from the very start.

“Oh do you teach juggling?” I asked.

Of course not.  But she resumes echoing my directives, translating english-to-english.

“I don’t notice any language difficulty.  Is there some way I should be inflecting my voice that I’m not?”

Nope.  Back to redundant translations.

“You don’t want me giving him instructions?”

Oh no, she does!

“But you want to give the instructions too?”

Yes because she’s the mom, she says, and she’s “the one he wants to impress the most,” she explains, therefore bla bla bla.

And then this came out of my mouth:

  “I only ask because I’ve never seen a juggling lesson improved by participation from the parent.”

Mysteriously, this concept seemed a surprise.

But shockingly, it worked!!!

She backed off, watched the interaction, and her son went away from his first juggling lesson a champion.  (Focused beautifully, discovered throwing a ball with his non-dominant hand for the first time, and caught three catches clean!)  He also wanted a photo with his “new best friend,” and posed for the photo between me AND mom, who says she’ll be bringing him to see me at Kids Night sometime soon.


FP Face palm speech bubble

So I’m writing these things down to help me remember them by-God.  That’s THREE tangible tricks I can try… to get them to STOP PERSISTING at interference.

How I will ever get them not to meddle in the first place I do not know.

Please ask me when I’m on my death bed and by god we’ll see if I’ve figured out anything more by then.   I am not religious, but I am willing to pray.

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About circuskitchen

performing artist, mom, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, niece... just a regular extraordinary person
This entry was posted in activism, art, childhood, comedy, education, face painting, faith, family, fight, forgiveness, Friendship, health, learning, love, making art, mental health, Mindfulness, money, nature, parenthood, patience, Performing Life, politics, Secret Juggler, work. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Secret Juggler: What to Say to Parents During Lessons & Face Painting

  1. Bubble Wow says:

    Your cross to bear. Your solutions are highly creative. Probably one approach does not succeed with all parents, you’ll have to do the extra work of customizing.
    Nit: You could write “tomes”, not “tombs,” although perhaps that was a Freudian slip. Probably best not to kill the parents. Creative, yes, but almost certainly counterproductive in the long run.

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