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The Great Mother's Day GMA Adventure

It's pretty clear that if I'm ever talented enough to win the Printz, I will not be doing something hip and funky like Libba Bray. When Heidi Estrin called to tell me I'd won the 2006 Sydney Taylor Award for Older Readers for CONFESSIONS OF A CLOSET CATHOLIC I was getting my legs waxed and crying my eyes out (not because of the waxing, but because my life was at a particularly low point). And last Wednesday,when a producer from GOOD MORNING AMERICA called (!!!!!!!!) I was...well...in the bathroom.

When my daughter called through the door and said, "Mom, there's someone from Good Morning America on the phone," I thought, "Yeah, right." Because that kind of stuff doesn't happen in my world, unless I'm fast asleep.

But when I got to phone, it really WAS Kari Pricher, an incredibly lovely and wonderful producer from GMA, saying that she'd just seen Q & A, and wondering if Josh and I would be willing to appear on the show on Mother's Day with Dave Isay from StoryCorps.

My thoughts in order:

1) OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG!!!!!!!! This is every author's DREAM!!!!!
2) OH NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Josh is going to TOTALLY FREAK OUT!!!!!!!!! And NOT in a good way.....
3) Wait a minute...I have 23 people coming to my house for a barbecue for Dad's birthday on Sunday. AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!

I was able to resolve number 3 pretty quickly, because we'd have to be at the studio by 6:30am, and would be back home by about 10-10:30, and our guests weren't due till 1pm. But number 2 was my biggest concern. I told her I would have to speak to my son first, and I'd call her back.

In the car on the way to Josh's trainer, I told him about the call. As I expected, he was not thrilled with the idea. "Is it live?" he asked. I fudged and said I wasn't sure, because I wanted to get to the root of his concerns. "Why would that make a difference?" I asked.

"Because they can edit stuff out if it's not live," he said.

Ok. So basically, like me, he was afraid of making a complete prat of himself on live, nationwide TV. I got it. I so, totally got it.

He seemed really unhappy about the whole idea, so as much as I wanted to do it, I just couldn't see moving forward unless there was a way to make him feel better about it. So I tried to lay out the pros and cons for him. I explained to him that even though the segment would have nothing to do with my books, it would be a good for me as an author to have the exposure, and that meant it was good for our family. But I also said that if he really was desperately uncomfortable with the idea, then we wouldn't do it, because it wouldn't be worth it.

When he went into his appointment, he was very tense, and I thought it was going to be a no go. I called Kari back and told her that he was extremely anxious about the idea. To her credit, the first thing she said was, "What can we do to make him less anxious?"

I asked her to describe for me exactly what was going to take place, step by step, from the minute the car picked us up at some ungodly hour of the morning, to the time it dropped us back on our doorstep after the interview, so I could prepare Josh for what to expect. That's always made things much easier on him. Kari was terrific. She described everything, down to what kind of food we could expect in the green room and the fact that there was a pinball machine there.



Then I told her that what would really help Josh would be to know the question they were going to ask him in advance, so he could have some time to think about his answer. She said that they normally only do that for Heads of State, but in Josh's case they'd make an exception. I thanked her, and told her I'd get back to her after I'd talked to him again.

Well, I wish I had a picture of his face after I told him that they were going to offer him a privilege normally only offered to heads of state. He had a huge smile and he lit up like a Catherine Wheel. Later that evening, he came and pounced on my bed. "So Mummy," he asked, "Does this mean I'm on par with Obama?"

I sent an e-mail to Kari. "You had him at 'Heads of State'" I told her.

The kid didn't get into Mensa for nothing. He immediately started milking this for all it was worth.

"So getting up at 5:00 am on a Sunday constitutes a Mother's Day present, doesn't it?" he said.

And then, the night before, he wanted sushi. I said no, because we'd eaten out the night before, and he countered, "But it would make me feel less nervous."

Ah kids. They know how to push your buttons. One spicy tuna roll, coming right up.*

So that's how we ended up heading to ABC's Time Square studios at 5:45am on Sunday morning. We got there about 6:30 and were escorted up to the green room by Jim. Josh prompted tucked into the chocolate muffins. I was too nervous to eat, but drank coffee, in hopes that I might be semi-coherent by the time we were interviewed.

Then it was time for hair and makeup.



These women are magicians. I went in there with a huge zit on my chin, bags under my eyes, looking like your basic suburban mom. They made me look totally glamorous. I felt like I was on WHAT NOT TO WEAR or one of those other makeover shows. I wish I had a make up person to do my face whenever I have to go somewhere. Especially since once, when I was putting on my face at the gym, this woman told me I put on makeup "like a crazy lady."



Josh just got a little powder and some hair wax for his JewFro, since he has such gorgeous skin and hair. (Isn't the TEENAGER the one who is supposed to have the zits? Just sayin'...)

Back in the green room we had our mics put on and checked. The sound guy asked me to count to ten. What he didn't tell me was that the sound was going to come through the TV in the green room. So I started counting and then I heared my voice coming through the TV and went "OMG!" and then kept counting. The people in the control room must have realized they were dealing with someone who doesn't do this every day. Josh, on the other hand, counted like a total pro, even though I know he was nervous inside.

Eventually they led us onto the set



and sat us on the sofa. The Webmeister and my daughter were able to watch from the opposite set behind the cameras. Bill Weir (no, not Bob Weir from the Grateful Dead, which was my first thought when I heard his name) conducted the interview, and after all that build up, in what seemed like a blink of an eye, it was over.

We got to go see the control room afterwards:



and then it was back to CT where my sister Anne and brother-in-law Mark had been holding down the fort and starting the preparations for my dad's birthday barbecue. I felt totally jet-lagged from the early start, so I took a quick nap and then arose to get my Martha Stewart on.

Dad had wonderful birthday celebration and I certainly had a very memorable Mother's Day.

Here's the GMA segment, in case you missed it:



*Fear not. This shameful indulgence ended today, when it was back to my normal Evil Mother Self.

Comments

( 23 comments — Share the Love )
lisayee
May. 10th, 2010 10:59 pm (UTC)
So very, very cool. And if Josh is on par with Obama, that makes you a First Mom.
saraclaradara
May. 11th, 2010 11:54 am (UTC)
Awww. Watch out, you might give me delusions of grandeur. Next I'll be expecting Secret Service guys and Hail to the Chief playing whenever I walk in the room :-)
jbknowles
May. 10th, 2010 11:10 pm (UTC)
I love this story! And you look beautiful as ever. It must be so strange to have someone else do your make-up simply because they do it differently and have an entirely different idea of what they think would look nice. And of course, how to hide zits. :-)
dlgarfinkle
May. 10th, 2010 11:24 pm (UTC)
You looked gorgeous and you and Joshua sounded great. Very moving!
karenbschwartz
May. 10th, 2010 11:51 pm (UTC)
Sara, thanks for sharing that experience. Fascinating and I loved the video clip.

p.s. I write MG stories, and I loved your book Confessions of a Closet Catholic!
d_michiko_f
May. 11th, 2010 12:51 am (UTC)
WOW! Amazing and touching! And brave - both of you! :) xoxox
stamford_talk
May. 11th, 2010 01:11 am (UTC)
This made my evening.
It was so fun to hear your inside scoop on the show, but the best part was that interview. So sweet, so priceless.
the_webmeister
May. 11th, 2010 04:17 am (UTC)
Except for Josh getting to the one chocolate muffin first (grrrrrr), the entire event could - not - have - gone - any - better. I was amazed at how everyone just clicked on set with no rehearsals or anything. It was magical.
christine444
May. 11th, 2010 06:12 am (UTC)
I'm impressed--I can't even imagine going on a big show like that. (Sounds terrifying! :>) Congratulations!
jayasher
May. 11th, 2010 07:48 am (UTC)
That was beautiful!
cynthialord
May. 11th, 2010 09:10 am (UTC)
Oh, Sarah. That was wonderful!!!!!
saraclaradara
May. 11th, 2010 11:57 am (UTC)
Cindy, you know how stressful and brave it was for Josh to go on - the producer was so awesome for making the accommodations for him to make him feel as comfortable as possible. It really helped that he knew everything in advance - even down to the bagels and muffins in the green room. (so he knew to grab the ones he liked before Hank got them ;-)
annhl
May. 11th, 2010 10:10 am (UTC)
I didn't want it to end! What a beautiful story!
(Anonymous)
May. 11th, 2010 11:52 am (UTC)
awesome
lovely interview! So fast! :D

-Rose
saraclaradara
May. 11th, 2010 11:53 am (UTC)
Re: awesome
I know, after all that buildup and nervousness, it went by in the blink of an eye!
artistq
May. 11th, 2010 01:00 pm (UTC)
You and Josh were great! So relaxed! Go ahead, win the Printz I think you can handle it!
saraclaradara
May. 11th, 2010 04:39 pm (UTC)
From your lips to G-d's ears, Laura :-)
njnelson
May. 12th, 2010 12:29 am (UTC)
I have thoroughly enjoyed this "shameful indulgence"! Thank you so much for sharing the story behind your and Josh's Storycorps experience! I heard your interview when it was first played on the radio and was deeply touched - it really stayed with me. I later discovered your Livejournal (just before Purge was released) and was so excited to learn that you were the Mom in this interview. I'm very glad this StoryCorps segment continues to find new listeners :)
saraclaradara
May. 21st, 2010 12:12 am (UTC)
It's been so incredible to me how this has gone viral and continues to reach new people and touch them. I think that's the magic and the genius of StoryCorps - it shows that the real stories of ordinary people have just as much meaning and staying power as the doings of celebrities.
thereyougothen
May. 19th, 2010 12:30 pm (UTC)
I loved reading this as much as watching the animation and listening to you and your son.
I hope I can answer questions from my 2 boys as well as you do.
saraclaradara
May. 21st, 2010 12:09 am (UTC)
I'm sure you will - it just takes listening and treating them with respect and honesty.
(Anonymous)
May. 20th, 2010 01:50 am (UTC)
Sarah, what a wonderful, amazing video that had me both crying and smiling throughout. You and your son have given me quite a present with this, as well, since MY son is also a 7th-grade Honors Student with Asperger's Syndrome. Thank you for this - I plan to share it with my entire family. -- Jen Wardrip, TeensReadToo.com
saraclaradara
May. 21st, 2010 12:07 am (UTC)
Wow, Jen, I didn't realize we had this in common! Although Josh is now almost 17 and a junior in high school starting to look at COLLEGES Honors Student. (Gulp!) This has certainly been an amazing experience, from when we first did the interview back in 2006 to being on NPR and then being made into an animation and now this! Who would have ever thought?

I was SO PROUD of the way Josh handled himself on TV. It's been really good for his self-esteem to have overcome his anxiety about it and have his friends watch and tell him he did well.
( 23 comments — Share the Love )

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