Family life

Aww nuts! Our first Nutcracker experience

Tracy takes Anna to see The Nutcracker, hoping it will be a festive mother-daughter bonding experience. But it's so not

By Tracy Chappell
Aww nuts! Our first Nutcracker experience

Anna liked getting dressed up for The Nutcracker much more than she liked The Nutcracker

I’ve been so excited all week. My mom and Anna and I were going to see The Nutcracker. I’ve never seen it (my whole life!) and always wanted to, especially the last few years, but always seemed to miss it. But then I thought — maybe I’d been waiting all this time so I could share the experience with my daughter.
I figured Anna was old enough this year to enjoy it, and then discovered my mom would be in town the weekend it was playing at The Living Arts Centre, so I ordered the tickets for the three of us. And then got excited.
“Anna, we’re going to do something special this weekend,” I told her mid-week. “We’re going  to the ballet.”
“What do you mean?” she asked, her eyes wide.
“It’s a big show at a theatre with dancers and beautiful costumes. Do you think you’d like to go?”
“I would love that!” she exclaimed.
So after hockey, we came home and she picked out a dress and a necklace and she was so excited, too. We saw all these other little girls in pretty dresses with their parents at the theatre. As we sat in our seats, I was almost teary with happiness to be sharing this experience with my daughter.
That was short-lived. I mean, really short-lived. The lights went down and the music began, but we just watched a red curtain on the stage for the first few minutes. “Why is nothing happening?” she said. Then she plugged her ears. It was too loud. “When will something happen?”
Things started happening, but not nearly enough. Anna knew the story from a book we have at home, but didn’t have any patience for the ballet’s story telling, declaring that it was the boring-ist thing she’d ever seen. Loudly and repeatedly.
Luckily, intermission arrived. I took Anna for a walk (and an ice cream) and told her that I was very sorry she wasn’t enjoying the show, but that we weren’t leaving. So she needed to find a way to contain her comments so she wouldn’t ruin the show for the people around her — most notably, me.
She tried for the first bit of the second act, but she was so miserable. They had cushions kids could sit on to boost them up, and for the last 15 minutes, she had it over her face. I had some snacks on hand, but again, not nearly enough. Finally, it was over. The wait to get out of the parking garage was similarly excruciating (for all of us) and I’ve never been happier to get home.
I thought the show was beautiful, but because we went to a smaller centre (on purpose), it wasn’t quite as opulent and sparkly as I had imagined, either. I can totally understand why Anna was underwhelmed, it’s just disappointing that this wasn’t the experience I had hoped for. (In Anna’s defence, my mom thought it was kind of boring, too, but luckily, she didn’t stomp her feet and groan loudly about it.)
The upside: Anna has always wanted to take ballet, but has now decided she’ll stick with hockey.

What events with your child have you built up that didn't turn out the way you'd hoped?

This article was originally published on Dec 08, 2011

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