Yesterday Mo received a call from his brother, who is a professional photographer who also works in the production of movies, advertisements etc. They were looking to cast Bangladeshi-looking children and he thought Shakeel (12) and Nuha (7) would be perfect.
Shakeel who, like his mother, is afraid of new experiences among strangers, was nervous. He complained about a head- and tummy ache from the moment we informed him of the casting. He was an absolute wreck, seeking constant reassurance. Who was going to be there? Would there be other children? What would he be expected to do? He drove me nuts.
Then, like his mother often did, he asked to quit before he even began. I completely understood his nerves - and I sympathised. But I also knew that the anticipation was scarier than the actual event would be. This has happened to him so often - he'd be terrified of attending an event, just to find that it is not as bad once he's there.
Another reason that I usually insist that he should do things of which he is afraid, is that I am living with so much regret for not having done things I would have enjoyed - simply because I was afraid. I love swimming and table tennis and, as a child, always longed to participate at club level, but I was too shy. Now my poor mother is bearing the brunt of my regret, with me constantly nagging and moaning, ''Why didn't you force me?''
Nuha was shy, but excited - not really sure what was expected of her. I think part of her just enjoyed being selected for something for which Tharaa (10) was not.
The casting took place in Sea Point (opposite the parks). So while Mo took Shakeel and Nuha in, I let Tharaa and Aisha (2) play on the beautiful lawns.
I made point of taking pictures of them, so that they would not feel as if they were missing out while their siblings were being photographed. But, I needn't have worried. Once they were let loose onto the open space, they became absolutely feral - wildly running and shrieking.
A dog-owner with his two large dogs noticed that they were afraid of his pets, so he approached them with the ball with which he was entertaining his dogs. He tried to get Aisha to throw the ball, to encourage her to interact with the dog. But to no avail. The child shrieked while her older sister practically climbed up my leg, as the dogs came nearer. I apologised profusely to the disappointed man and felt really bad as he took the delightful canines to play in another part of the park.
As soon as the coast was clear once again, Tharaa - our agile gymnast- started to perform cartwheels, Arab-springs and hand-stands, the way she always does when let loose into wide open spaces.
Her little sister, as usual, imitated everything she did.
Aisha also enjoyed the attention she got from passers-by when she started to perform a High School Musical song, holding her pretend microphone in her hand and shaking her little body shamelessly.
Just as we approached the car (as it was starting to become chilly), our two budding actors returned with their dad. As I'd suspected he would, Shakeel had enjoyed the experience.
We just received a call today to say that Shakeel had been chosen for the advertisement. To prevent Nuha from being disappointed and feeling rejected, we told her that they had only selected boys for the ad. Oh, the life of showbiz parents! (It's perfectly acceptable to tell a lie to prevent your child from getting hurt, isn't it?)
The older kids have indicated that they want to join a casting agency. This does not surprise me at all, since they all have a flair for the dramatic (evident when my instructions to switch off the TV and study are met with theatrical meltdowns into tears of utter devastation).
Mo and I will fully support them on this path . It's by time they start earning their keep.