My mom can keep a secret. I called her on Friday to ask something innocuous and discovered she was in line at the DMV.

“Why are you at the DMV?” I wanted to know.

“That’s where you go to get a license,” she said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

It turns out she lost her wallet a day or so earlier and didn’t tell me. She didn’t want me to worry, but I stumbled over her secret. By the time I learned about it she had replaced her license and her credit cards.

“It’s really easy online,” she pointed out. There was only one problem, however. Until the replacement cards arrived, she had no access to money, none whatsoever. Eventually she gathered up all the coins from the house and cashed them in. This netted a fair amount of cash, including enough to buy my co-workers and I tacos.

I learned all this after the fact.

I was thinking about this later in the day, when we watched the RMES’ production of Disney’s Aladdin Kids. One of the first songs is called “One Jump Ahead” and involves Aladdin barely scraping by. At that moment I really related.

And I have to say a few words about the show. RMES is known for doing good productions, and this one was no exception. The first act was featured young performers doing a variety of songs, the same ones they used to audition with. My favorite performance was “How Far I’ll Go,” from the musical Moana, performed by Alli Garcia.

The second act was Aladdin.

I have to be honest: it blew me away. It was a truncated version of the Disney classic, and so serious is that copyright that director Marla Cosner asked parents not to videotape the Aladdin part of the show.
The young actors did an amazing job. Especially noteworthy were Alex Vargas as Aladdin, Citali Tellez as Jasmine, Geoffrey Brown as Jafar and Erin Robbins as the Genie.

But really the whole huge cast was excellent; they attacked their roles with zeal. The production values were also impressive, with elaborate costumes and masks. (My mom did the set design, which for this play meant the main backdrops.)

Overall, it did exactly what theater is supposed to do. It transported the audience to another place and time. It was magical.

All told, director Marla Cosner, producer Ronelle Cannon, assistant directors Leisha Wetzel and Beth Cosner, choreographer Julie Ertl and assistant choreographer Amy Ertl did an almost supernatural job of wrangling their large and youthful cast.

My mom was also blown away. “Sometimes theater gives me a chill,” she said. “That did.”


Of course, the financing problems continued Saturday. No genie appeared to give my mom a way to obtain cash. Her idea of cashing a check using a base ID (which was not in the wallet) was thwarted when her bank was closed. We went to Red Rock Books for their Independent Bookstore Day event and ate free cupcakes. We later scraped together enough of the remaining cash for lunch at Xin Bowl. Sunday she relented and let me put some groceries on my credit card.

Monday morning, the tough times ended when the credit cards arrived in the mail.

The whole experience was sobering. It was the furthest thing from a real emergency; I had credit cards and cash but for some reason she didn’t want to bother me. But it got me to thinking. We are privileged. There are people who sweat small sums of cash every day. I am myself am fairly broke, in terms of the larger picture. But just like with my boring, stable, regular upbringing I suddenly felt profoundly grateful for my mom’s level head with money. I have been blessed.

The charm of my mom of course is that she treats the whole thing like an adventure or as a joke. “I needed to get rid of those quarters anyway,” she said.

— Jessica Weston is city editor at the Daily Independent. Contact her at


The views expressed are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the official stance of the Daily Independent.