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Tuesday, December 22, 2009  

Showtime

M. Edium's Montessori school has several special events scheduled throughout the year. Some of them are special and exciting, and some of them are trials of endurance. Last week was the "Holiday Program," which was both.

The thing about putting on a show with three-, four-, and five-year-olds is that you can't make it too awfully elaborate. I mean, you can feel free to go ahead and imagine a group performance from Glee with a lot more headroom for the performers, but it's just not going to happen.

Although this is M. Edium's second holiday season at his school, it was only his first Holiday Program. Last year we had planned to go, but he just wasn't up to it and decided to bail. Normally we can make him do our bidding with dire threats like, "Eat one more bite of your dinner or we're staying home," but last year when we tried that he was just like, "All-righty." Normally he'll give in just on principle.

The other night, however, we realized that a year ago, he made the right call.

The Holiday Program begins with all the parents perching on the little wooden toddler chairs in the main room. Then the kids are all paraded in wearing Santa hats and lined up on the oval marked on the floor. Then they sing.

M. Edium sings a lot at home. He sings songs we know, and a lot of songs we don't know. We assumed they were songs he learned at school. We assumed they were all of the songs he learned at school. We assumed incorrectly. I found myself wishing for a copy of the set list just so I could have some idea of how many pages of it were left. About fifteen or twenty songs in, Trash whispered to me, "How many songs are they going to sing?" "All of them, I think," I whispered back.

It probably would have been a lot worse if the turnout had been less dismal. Maybe a third of the kids and parents showed up, to the disappointment of M. Edium's teacher, who started the show by asking us parents to sing along to the ones we knew.

Even if I’d gotten a set list, there would be simply no room to reproduce it here. Suffice to say that the festivities began with a medley of patriotic numbers (M. Edium's teacher is always careful to include plenty of those, either due to or in spite of being Sri Lankan), then some nursery songs like "Baby Beluga" and some songs about farming. Then came the Christmas songs. I assumed that the carefully named "Holiday Program" meant that there were going to be songs about other holidays than Christmas, but it turns out it only meant that there were lots of songs not about Christmas. At least at the beginning.

Throughout the performance, a little boy in the center of the line consistently danced a soft-shoe. I didn't know there were three-year-olds who could move like that. The teachers let him go, because you can't lecture a three-year-old about how he's creating a focus problem.

Near the end, the teachers passed out little jingle bells for the kids to shake while they sang, but in practice most of them spent a lot of time figuring out how they worked instead of shaking them or singing. But they got a few numbers to let the novelty wear off before the big showcase piece, which was them shaking them along to a recording of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's epic version of "Carol of the Bells," which I like to call "Angry Christmas." Some of the kids seemed particularly into the “angry” part. Since we were several hours in by this point, I wasn’t entirely unsympathetic.

Near the end, they busted out the choreography, which consisted of clasping their hands behind their backs, breaking formation, and sort of shuffling around while singing "Frosty the Snowman." I didn't know there were moves to "Frosty the Snowman," but now I do. Basically you clasp your hands behind our back and shuffle around.

As the show wore on, M. Edium was a trouper, especially for him. Even though he's simply bailed on or outright ruined any number of similar productions, he lasted through the whole thing, aside from plaintively and repeatedly telling Trash he was thirsty, and licking his lips in a way designed to be seen from the back row. He also told her to stop laughing, several times, to no avail. But he made it, and I think it was only in part because we had made his ability to open an early Christmas present the next morning contingent on his behavior.

So after about an hour of singing, it was time for snacks and punch and going home. I'm glad we went. But I'm even more glad we didn't go last year.

posted by M. Giant 9:26 PM 2 comments

2 Comments:

Un-lurking to say I once ejected myself from my son's holiday presentation because I was laughing too hard. Worth every second. Now he's an adult who doesn't put on shows for his parents. They grow up so fast.

I love your blog.

By Anonymous VJ, at December 23, 2009 at 5:20 AM  

That song totally IS Angry Christmas! Sadly, our six year old loves it and requests that we turn the volume up if we're ever unfortunate enough to come upon it while in the car.

Her elementary school is "holiday neutral" following a lawsuit against the district a few years back, so there was no performance of any kind for us to suffer - erm, I mean sit through. She makes up for it by singing holiday songs around the house all the time instead, whether or not she knows the correct lyrics.

Merry Christmas to you, Trash and M.Edium!

By Blogger Heather, at December 24, 2009 at 11:50 AM  

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