by AMY ANDERSON
Today has been a rough day. As some of you may know, Aubrey’s father and I haven’t been a couple since Aubrey was an infant, so we co-parent between our two homes. Her father’s house is in a neighborhood zoned for farm animals, and Aubrey recently acquired two pygmy goats as pets. They were sweet little, friendly goats that loved people. Just yesterday, Aubrey and her friend from across the street were walking them around the neighborhood like dogs.
However, when the girls went to check on the goats this morning, they found out that one goat had been killed by a coyote while the other had gone missing. The little female goat is still missing, and we’re hoping she jumped the fence during the attack and escaped. Needless to say, Aubrey is devastated and traumatized.
No one, especially not a small child, should have to see the massacred remains of their beloved pet. I just wish my daughter had been at my house last night, so she didn’t have to witness that terrible sight. But what’s done is done, and after a very difficult start to the day, we are moving forward.
Aubrey is involved in a wonderful children’s theater group. It is a small community organization comprised of mostly regular kids who aren’t professional actors. Aubrey adores this place. The theater group is currently rehearsing the play Aladdin, Jr. for performances in December, with Aubrey playing the titular role of Aladdin. Today she has rehearsal from 12-4 p.m., but I assumed she would be too upset to go.
People often ask me how to get kids into show business or if I think their kid has what it takes. I tell them my honest opinion: My kid is talented, but she’s not exceptional as I believe that all children have talents. Some kids are great at sports, some are gifted painters and others may have great interpersonal skills. My kid can sing and act well, but when it comes to other activities, she’s just a normal 7-year old.
When parents ask me for advice about getting their kids in the business, I usually say their child will let them know if acting or performing is a calling for them. You should be able to tell because they love it. They are interested in it. They want to do it in their free time. They can’t wait to do it again. If your kid doesn’t seem compelled to act or perform, then don’t waste your time and don’t fool yourself. You will know. Your child will tell you if you listen.
But I realize dishing out such simplistic advice is easier than living it. Even after three and a half years of Aubrey being an actor, I have moments of doubt. I wonder if she’s happy—if I’ve made a wise choice for her and for us as a family. Just as my child is not exceptional, neither am I, as a mother. I think most parents wonder if they’re making the right choices for their children, and I am no different.
Today, after several sad phone calls and texts, I was prepared to comfort a sad little girl at home for the afternoon. So when I asked Aubrey’s father if our daughter was going to go to theater practice, I was really surprised when he said she really wanted to go.
It’s true, there really are no people like show people. I think Aubrey knew she would find further comfort in a place she loves—the theater. This theater is a safe place for her and a place where she can be herself and show her feelings. So she went.
Her dad dropped her off at the theater, and shortly after, a fellow mom friend called to tell me that when she was dropping her daughter off, she saw Aubrey still crying her eyes out. Her sleeves were wet from repeatedly drying her own tears. Another little girl was comforting her and helping her to relax.
As much as it breaks my heart to think of her crying at play rehearsal, I know Aubrey chose to be there. She chose it because it’s a place where she feels love. And how lucky is she—are we—that she has found her people at such a young age?
Aubrey may never act again after Modern Family. Who knows? But for now, my little girl is an actor. Even though this morning has been fraught with sadness, I think we’re on the right track. Aubrey has the heart of an actor, and she’s where she wants to be.
Amy Anderson is a Korean American adoptee, comedian and actress. She created and hosted the first Asian American standup showcase “ChopSchtick Comedy” at the Hollywood Improv. She has appeared on Comedy Central, VH1, AZN, and the Game Show Network. Her daughter Aubrey Anderson-Emmons plays the role of Lily on the Emmy-winning show Modern Family.
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Photos courtesy of Amy Anderson.