Oh, The Places They Will Go

Danielle and Jennifer - Thanksgiving 1998

By Judy Berman

I never dreamed I’d see our youngest daughter become a nun – and a pregnant one at that. Or that our eldest daughter would be driven to madness and walking an invisible dog.

That’s not the worst of it.

Our youngest plotted with three friends to knock a woman off for her shoes. And our eldest? She was popping pills and hanging out with someone who was mad as a hatter.

I’m talking, of course, about roles our girls played in school and as adults.

Wherever there’s a kid involved in sports, drama, music or other activities, there’s a parent driving them to the event and cheering them on. That turn on the field or on the stage might lead to a thrilling hobby or to a professional career.

For me, it’s been fun to watch on the sidelines whether they were play acting in school or tapping into their creative side as adults.

We recently saw Jenn perform in The Dixie Swim Club. She was one of five cast members in this play at The Breakthrough Theatre of Winter Park.

We knew she was a nun in the play. What we were unprepared for was her entrance. She really caught us off guard when she opened the door not far from our seats.

Jenn McGinnis - The Dixie Swim Club at The Breakthrough Theatre of Winter Park - Sept. 2014

Jenn was eight months along and about to go into labor.

Years ago, when she was in elementary school, Jenn was the conniving girl (Dorothy) plotting with friends (the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion), to keep the ruby-red slippers that the Wicked Witch of the West coveted in the “Wizard of Oz.” (I spun that story out just a bit.)

Danielle’s debut as a crazy lady walking an invisible dog was part of a Spanish version of “Little Shop of Horrors.” Her Spanish high school class had a lot of fun with that, and added some improv to the skit.

The pill-popping was when Danielle played Alice, in “Alice in Wonderland.” Give the kid a break. Her character took the pills that made her very, very small … or super big … to escape the crazy Queen of Hearts and the even nuttier Mad Hatter so she could return home.


Nowadays, Danielle writes and directs plays for her children and others who are home-schooled. She’s already got me in stitches with dialogue she plans for “The Wizard of Oz.” Seems we can’t get away from that classic.

Jenn has directed a play as well. No matter which side of the stage she’s on, she’s having fun.

Looking back, I think of the times I drove them to be part of a drama class and encouraged their acting chops in school.

When that seed was planted, I had no idea what it would lead to

It’s been wonderful to see it come full circle.


What activities did you and/or your children do in school that continue to play a part in your life and in theirs?


COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

1) Main photo: Danielle and Jenn in 1998

2) Jenn McGinnis and cast members in The Dixie Swim Club at The Breakthrough Theatre of Winter Park. (Jenn’s the one in the middle with the huge smile.)

3) Danielle Wallace honored for her writing and directing of “Alice In Wonderland” in a school play.

    1. Carl, I’ll bet you were just terrific. You still are. My own turn on the stage – at that age – I recall my Mom telling me that while I was shaking my fist in anger as I was leaving the stage, I also was smiling. Ah, well!

      1. I did not see how to comment on 9/13 post. Yes, world stands still for most of the month as I am broke and then speeds up for a day or two when retirement checks come in and then stands still again.

  1. What fun it must’ve been to watch your children in so many productions. My youngest teen son is a really good magician, and he’s starting to put together acts with his card and coin magic. It’s fun to see them interact with others. Makes us see them in a different light.

    1. Carrie … Maybe, your son will become another Siegfried and Roy or Houdini. What fun! I know how exciting that skill can be. On Friday, one of my students came up after class and asked if I had a dollar bill. He used it to show me a magic trick. Hope his interest – and your son’s – becomes a part of their future. 😉

      1. He’s so dedicated about it. He’s been practicing magic for eight years. Now that he just started high school, I figure this is where he’ll either ditch the hobby or continue on. Lots of other things competing for his time. But he studies the DVDs and books for hours. His card tricks blow me away.

        comment from earthrider to Carrie Rubin:
        I recall that in addition to Johnny Carson’s comedic skills that he also loved to perform magic tricks. Best wishes to your son in whatever path he chooses. 😉

  2. Your daughters sound like they were raised by creative and intelligent parents, yeah, you two!! I think they are beautiful, too. (Inside and out.) This story was written so well, it needs to be ‘freshly pressed,’ Judy!!
    I loved being part of theatre, was chosen to be senior year Student Director in high school, I played stage manager and make-up artist, but did only ‘bit’ parts on stage. I did attend “national acting camp.” I loved my marching band days, equally well. I dated my junior year, a French Horn marching band member, my senior year a member of Science Club. I was a ‘geek’ in Science Club, where I was secretary and my brother was President. I stayed in Girl Scouts my whole life, it seemed, from kindergarten to First Class scout, to a supportive leader. My three kids were all in sports, gymnastics and dance. But I was very proud of one of my daughters for her artistic talent, she was given the Governor’s Award to attend Columbus College of Art and Design. My youngest daughter chose to be a sports nut, she went to University of Dayton. My middle child, son James, is a cook or a chef, depending on which restaurant he works in. He is happily working at Son of Thurman’s (original Thurman’s is in German Village, Cols. OH). He is the best and most sensitive father I have ever known. Which goes to show you, it doesn’t matter what education or roots you give your children, it is how they use the wings you let them fly with! (Smiles!) Love that your daughter home schools, too!

    1. Wow! Thank you for the compliment, Robin. I’m glad you enjoyed this story.

      You certainly have remain engaged in your interests and your children have successfully tapped into their creative side as well. (Our girls also were in scouts and gymnastics. Danielle competed and won an award in a statewide competition.)

      These activities that public schools nurture are being cut because of budget cuts. I’d love to see them remain a viable part of school as they build confidence, character and that trickles over – hopefully – into a love of learning. 😉

      1. It is supposed to be children’s ‘times of their lives,’ which is sad when such interesting activities and subjects are no longer funded. I agree with you, Judy, on this subject. The confidence found in many school activities can really help make better citizens, trickling into all areas of society, too. It is good for everyone to expand their horizons, I have met people my age who have joined theater or singing groups. I like that your daughter is writing plays, writing must be in your blood… Smiles!

  3. I hope I’m not repeating myself. I wrote a comment that seems to have disappeared, and I was told to log in. . .
    Anyway. Fun post!
    My daughters were both involved in theater and music in high school (chorus, plays, Madrigal singers), and they both continued with theater in college–both wrote and directed plays in college. My younger daughter majored in theater and English education at college, so we got to see her perform in many different plays and in many different types of roles, and she also did some summer theater camp musicals. She was Blanche in “Streetcar,” and her now boyfriend (who we like very much) was Stanley in the same production. Fortunately, he is nothing like Stanley, nor is she like Blanche. The magic of theater though, that one can believe they are those characters while watching them perform.

    I’ve always been interested in music, theater, writing, art, and so our daughters were naturally exposed to all those things. I think they’re involvement though increased my interest in theater, including the “backstage” aspect of it.

    1. Your original message came in as Anonymous. I just deleted it so that I could post your comment under your name.

      Merril … What a wonderful inside look you had at your daughters’ performances. “Streetcar Named Desire” had to be a tough one for you to watch. I’m glad that your youngest daughter was able to handle such a difficult role that is so far removed from her real life. Music and theater have been a great interest in our family as well. 😉

      1. Jenn and Danielle are also Dr. Seuss characters come to life in a post with the best hook I’ve read in a long time – wow, Judy!

        It’s interesting how our interests and hobbies have mutated into the lives of our children and grand-children. Son Joel is an art teacher (like his artist Dad) with children who want to be a movie producer and video game creator. Daughter Crista has a daughter with teacher traits and a son who wants to be an architect like his engineer father. Oh, how wonderful to see the script of our lives played out in the next generations.

        comment from earthrider to Marian Beaman:
        Dr. Seuss did leap to mind as I thought of the trajectory of our daughters’ lives, Marian. I’m glad you were hooked by my ‘hook.’

        It is a delight to see that some of the creative interests I had have been carried on by our children and now by our grandchildren. That’s terrific that you see your grandchildren are carrying on the family’s professional and creative traits. 😉

  4. wonderful post, judy. full of love and gusto and support. when i read your first few lines, i thought, oh, wow – judy has really dealt with a lot! i remember one elementary school talent night where my oldest daughter was in a group skit, middle was ‘roadie’ setting up mics, etc., and youngest got up and did stand up comedy (as a kindergartner), and no shoes as she forgot them due to wearing winter boots. i can see each to their choices as the same ones they would make now if all had to be in a talent show.

    1. I didn’t mean to alarm any one with the opening lines. But it was fun to write. 😉

      It sounds like your children had a ball that night. They found their calling early. Best wishes to them as they pursue their dreams.

      The ‘no shoes’ part reminded me of one performance my youngest was in. I realized she was wearing her old brown saddle shoes with her dress. I felt bad because – at that time – I couldn’t afford to buy her the cute Mary Jane shoes that all the other girls had.

  5. This post’s beginning had me wondering if I should cut back on my caffeine! What a beginning, Judy–I love it!–and it shows that your offspring had quite the role model.
    This is a wonderful peek into the heart and humor of your family.

    1. You crack me up, Marilyn. This post did bring out my mischievous side and I’m glad you enjoyed it. Role model? Me? Well, I did warp them. That’s for sure. 😉

      But, then, as I told my brother, “Being normal is highly overrated.”

  6. Great stories! My son was always fascinated by his history lessons – right from age five. At 23 he published his first book about the American Airborne in England during WW2. At school, essay writing was always his bugbear – now he can’t stop!

    1. Jenny … Congratulations to your son on his book. As an English teacher and former reporter, I will only say that there is a world of difference between essay writing and real writing. I’m glad he loves to write. 😉

  7. You almost had me there Judy – until I got to the part about knocking off a lady for her shoes! 🙂 I was preparing a sympathy reply. LOL! What a sense of humor runs through your family! I can see where they get it too.

    1. Dora … I didn’t want to lead with the “knocking off a lady for her shoes” because I suspected many might get the “Wizard of Oz” connection. But I’m glad I fooled you up until that point. Love your reaction. At times, my humor is wonderfully warped. Thank you for your comments. 😉

  8. Well now I understand you’re mischievous laughter the other night, great hook to the story. Although I think you needed to post the picture of Danielle as the crazy lady to really bring it home.
    Thank you for your continued support and encouragement, I have always loved sharing my plays with you and Dave.
    Sorry but not sorry for the opening shock of my play, I couldn’t give away a moment like that. I will tell you, lest there be no more surprises, I will be playing a nervous hen and Mr. Pilkington the farmer in Animal Farm: the Musical. You are welcome upfront for any future blog material that may come from that.
    Love you!

    1. Jenn … Yes. Bwahaha! You’re right! The photo of Danielle as the crazy lady would have been terrific. Unfortunately, it is not very focused.

      I really am glad that you didn’t tell me more about your role ahead of time in “The Dixie Swim Club.” It’s much more fun to be surprised. I’m intrigued by how you’re going to play a nervous hen in “Animal Farrm: the Musical” and hope that Dave and will be able to see that one also. The timing to see the current play just worked out really well.

      luv you, too.

  9. Ah, I see you have a lot talent in your family Judy! 🙂 Those characters they played sound hilarious and such a lovely memory to have too. Interesting to hear that your daughter writes and directs plays for children that are home schooled, she sounds very talented, that takes a lot of effort to do both, especially with children. Must be very rewarding in the end! I was home schooled from the age of thirteen and absolutely adored drama – I was definitely going to be an actress! 😉 I would have loved drama classes for kids (outside of school) that I could have got involved in. I remember feeling very depressed because there wasn’t anything like that at all where I lived (it was a boring village!) and the local school authorities tried their best to fight against me being home schooled too – it was not a happy time. Luckily I got to join a local theatre group when I was fifteen and had a wonderful time there until the age of nineteen when unfortunately I got very sick and had to pull out of that beloved drama group. I spent years of my young life trying to get better and had to give those drama ideas up. You have to be physically fit for something like that! I don’t feel bad about it now though, and I have a lot to thank those amateur actors for because they were such a lovely bunch of funny people and they gave me confidence for life at an age I desperately needed it. I’ll never forget any of them, or the crazy plays we did.

    I would have loved to play Alice like your daughter, that’s such a great character to play! 😀 The nearest I got to those kinds of characters was playing Wendy in Peter Pan, that was so much fun! I have a picture on my blog of me playing her, you’ve probably seen it some time ago.

    My brother was never a person for drama, but he was part of a Christian ministry many years ago, and they put on a play about the life of Jesus (of course!) they just couldn’t find anyone willing to play the devil – no surprise there! And somehow, he was persuaded to play the devil!! He had a great time doing the play and gained a lot of confidence. Soon after he left that ministry because he wasn’t happy with the way they were handling the finances or treating the people who volunteered. Rumours went round after, that playing the devil must have effected him in some way, and made him leave. It’s amazing the tales some people will tell themselves instead of looking at the truth. Anyway, it makes him laugh today to think that anyone would seriously believe that!

    Well, I hope your daughters carry on in that world of stage and drama, it’s a wonderful activity to be involved in, I wish them both the very best of fun! 🙂

    1. Suzy … Our eldest daughter homeschools her two children, but they get together with other parents for some classes. Drama is a favorite outlet for expression. I can tell from your experience that that was something you found fulfilling as well.

      Alice was a great character. There are many other wonderful roles in that story, too. Our grandson wanted to be one of the guards so that he could shout: “Off with their heads.” That got a huge laugh from the audience. Wendy certainly got to try her ‘wings’ in “Peter Pan” as they headed for Neverland. What a fun character to play.

      Your brother’s experience makes me wince. That people are so judgmental is wrong. Spreading rumors is also not part of the Golden Rule – treat others as you want to be treated.

      Thank you for your good wishes. I’ll pass them on to our daughters. They do enjoy the drama. 😉

  10. Oh Judy you have a such a unique story telling way. My daughter is drawn to Smeagol after reading The Hobbit. She does a fantastic voice and when she tried out for her part in the school play recently, I dared her to use it. She ended up as the very British Nanny and said I don’t think the school is ready for Smeagol yet. She waits and bides her time waiting to use her favourite voice. Love your girls journey’s.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed this story, Kath. My daughters have found creative outlets for their talents and that makes me happy.

      I wish your daughter the very best in landing the role she craves. Smeagol sounds intriguing and, maybe, more adventurous than a ‘very British Nanny.’ I’ll bet she’s up to the challenge. 😉

  11. Our son belongs on the stage, too, but he could never find the courage in high school. I hope he wanders into community theater someday. Maybe I’ll get him to read this post, and he’ll find some inspiration in what your daughters have accomplished.

    1. Charles … I wish that I had gotten involved with theater beyond elementary school. I don’t know if I was scared off by performing publicly. I froze during – but quickly recovered – in my first attempt at a prize speaking contest in high school. Something I obviously got over when I got my first job in radio. 😉

      I do hope our daughters’ experiences will convince your son to get involved. They both really enjoy it.

  12. Behind every happy, successful child, is a very supportive parent who through the years continues to inspire and love unconditionally. Beautiful daughters full of life, passion and so much talent. It joy and an honor to meet them through your post. Wishing you and your family abundant blessings and yes, lots of amazing shows that dazzles and make so many happy. Thank you. Have a great week my friend.

    1. Your son will definitely benefit from the love and support that you and your wife provide him. I do enjoy your adventures and your bonding thru creative activities. Thank you, Island Traveler, for the compliments and good wishes for our daughters. 😉

      1. Always a joy to hear from you my friend. Your stories and memories brings warmth and inspiration to your readers. It’s my weekend to work but somehow it feels like a weekend vacation because of the many wonderful posts of blogger friends. Have a great weekend. All the best to you and your family.

  13. Funny, creative, talented, making the world a brighter and happier place– I’d say they’re positive proof that there’s something to this heredity business… : )

    Great post, Judy– and I loved how you set us up in the opening paragraphs with the pill-popping references, et. al.– you crazy kidder, you!! : )

    1. Thanks, Mark. I’m hoping the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. That’d give me more bragging rights.

      Tricky little devil, aren’t I? I’m glad you enjoyed the set up. It was fun to write. 😆

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