Okay – what I am about to tell you will amaze and astound you. Okay – well, maybe not astound you. Okay – maybe not amaze. But, lemme tell you: it amazed and astounded ME!
I’ve found through the years that singing to my babies covers a multitude of sins: from the babies being tired and NOT WANTING TO DO any more ‘acting’, to being nervous, hungry, uncomfortable with a new actor, etc, etc, etc. And my gorgeous Shelby and Kara – “SUNNY” IN LEMONY SNICKET: A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS (sorry, Debb and Mark – I know they’re really YOUR Shelby and Kara, but you KNOW how much I love your kids!) were no different.
I had come up with my own version of I’M JUST WILD ABOUT HARRY that went, I’M JUST WILD ABOUT SHELBY . . . of course. (apologies to the astounding Mr. Eubie Blake). Almost no matter what else was going on, it would make Shelby smile. Even when she was only 15 months old. Even when we had been filming in a small cramped boat for days and days. Which is where this anecdote takes place.
SO . . .we’re between shots, and are again waiting for something before we do yet another take . . . at this point I can’t even remember what we were waiting for. Probably for Jim to come back from watching the previous take in the monitor. sigh. Don’t get me started . . . .
AND Shelby is getting understandably fractious. It’s way past her nap time AGAIN, she’s been in the same place for quite some time AGAIN, she’s prevented from running around and being a normal kid AGAIN, and she’s ready for a cuddle from ‘Daw’ (The girls can’t say my whole name yet).
I come out from my hiding place under the dirty canvas sail, and take her on my lap for a few minutes, as she’s been on Meryl’s lap for the shot.
I start singing quietly and gently to her, paying no attention to anything or anybody else – just concentrating on trying to make my baby happy. And slowly, it works, that amazing smile begins to play across her little face.
Suddenly it occurs to me that I am hearing another voice in addition to my own, and I realize Meryl is singing my silly made-up song, too!! I, Dawn Jeffory-Nelson, daughter of Alan and Charlene, sister of Dana, and wife of Shawn, am SINGING WITH MERYL STREEP. O H MY G O D!!!!!!!!!
One part of my brain is concentrating on Shelby and functioning so that I am continuing to sing and calm her, and the other half is screaming (albeit silently) like a wildly crazy nutso fan at the Academy Awards who has just seen Orlando Bloom or Johnny Depp “ooooooooooohhhhh, aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.”
Meryl Streep is singing with me!!! INSERT BANSHEE-LIKE SHRIEKS!!! The kind teenage girls do when they’re excited and/or crazy . . . .or like sorority sisters meeting each other by chance at the mall after a separation of five years . . . . .and you’ll get a vague picture of the chaos in my head . . . .
I’m actually sitting in a little boat on a sound stage in Downey, California in a man-made 4,000 square foot body of water, singing with Meryl Streep.
Now, c’mon . . . is that not amazing and astounding??!!
© Dawn Jeffory-Nelson 2013
All rights reserved