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Girl Goes to the Theatre

I may have mentioned that my mom’s
also a performer, and right now she’s doing a
children’s play based on Kevin Hencke’s Lily And the
Purple Plastic Purse
. Since it’s geared for kids and
features the famous Gamma, we thought this would be the perfect
venue for Maddie’s first visit to live theatre.

To make things even better, Maddie got to go not with boring old
mom, but with her other grandparents, turning it into a full day
out for the big girl. Mom spent the week talking to Maddie, telling
her about the story and preparing her for things like the fact that
the theatre would get dark before the show started, or that Maddie
couldn’t stand up in her seat and yell, “GAMMA!”
during the show. We prepped Maddie on what the day would look like
– grandparents’ pick-up, show, lunch, home – and
covered all our bases. Maddie’s never even gone to see a
movie, so this would be a big deal for her, and we wanted her
excited and ready.

The morning of the show, Maddie woke up nearly an hour before her
usual rising time. As I stumbled blearily into her room, hoping
she’d yell, “Just kidding!” and go back to sleep,
I saw Maddie with her sheet pulled up to her nose, body vibrating
with excitement. “Mommy, is it time to get up to go see the
show? Last night Gamma said I’d have to get up a bit early in
order to get to the show on time. Has it started already? Am I
missing it?”

Silently cursing my well-intentioned
mother, I explained that the show wouldn’t start for HOURS
and it was ok if she wanted to go back to sleep for a while. Maddie
thought for a bit, then said, “No, I think I’ll get up
and have some breakfast. Then I’ll get dressed, then
I’ll do my hairbows, then put on my socks and shoes and get
my silky and be ready for Nana and Papa when they come.
Doesn’t that sound like a good idea?”

What could I say – no, that sounds like an awful idea, way
worse of an idea than, say, sleeping another hour? We stumbled
downstairs for breakfast.

You get the gist of the morning; lots of barely contained
excitement interspersed with moments of intense fear she was
already missing the show. But all in all, Maddie was pliant and
obedient and focused on getting to the door. In fact, the only
hitch in getting Maddie off to the show wasn’t Maddie –
it was Cora.

When Cora realized Maddie was going somewhere without her, the
meltdown began. First Cora staged a sit-in protest, nesting in
Maddie’s car seat as it sat waiting in the hallway, trying to
keep the seat from leaving the house. Only once before has Cora
seen our backseat without Maddie’s car seat in it, and Cora
spent a good ten minutes crying and holding her hand out towards
Maddie’s empty spot, saying, “Mammie!” over and

I hadn’t thought about this angle, though I shouldn’t
have been surprised. I kept trying to divert Cora, but that kid is
nothing if not tenacious. When I told Maddie it was time to put on
her socks and shoes, Cora said, “Dora shoes!” as she
stood up, marched to the back door, and tried to get her own shoes
out. When I pointed out that Cora was still in her pjs and
couldn’t go anywhere, Cora did an about-face and started
dragging herself up the stairs, trying to pull her pajamas off. She
walked us all out to the car, and tried desperately to climb into
the car next to Maddie, crying and reaching again for
Maddie’s hand.

But we finally got Maddie off to her matinee, and that was the last
we saw of her for several hours. When Maddie returned, tired and
happy after a blissful morning with the grandparents, I could see
she’d had a wonderful time. She spent the rest of the day
telling me all about the show – plot details, descriptions of
the characters, what the scenery looked like, everything. Maddie
had a few favorite parts but gave an enthusiastic thumbs up to the
whole thing. According to the grandparents, Maddie was well-behaved
and entranced the whole time, though she was a bit upset when
intermission was declared: my three-year-old was indignant the show
was interrupted right in the very middle and impatient for it to
pick back up again or, as her Nana said amusedly, “Maddie had
definite opinions about intermission. She didn’t like that
one bit.”

I’m afraid my daughter even had a few notes for my mother
– which shouldn’t surprise me, since my family’s
notorious for giving family notes at each other’s shows. At
one point in the show my mom acts like a disruptive child,
naughtily reciting the alphabet incorrectly over and over. During
dinner, Maddie said, “Gamma, I’m going to come see the
show again many times, and when I do, I’d prefer to see you
do the alphabet just once, and the correct way. Do you think you
could do that? I need to see it correctly, ok, and just once. Have
you got it? Ok?”

So I think the morning was a success, and live theatre has
definitely woven its spell around my daughter. She’s clearly
planning on being a repeat patron – every actor’s
dream. I’m thrilled she “got” the idea of a live
performance and wants to see more, since with my family it’s
kind of hard to avoid. I know it’s inspired her play all day
long, and she speaks often of her “next trip to Gamma’s

But next time she goes, I’m afraid she’s bringing a
notepad and a crayon- just to jot a few corrections. Sorry,


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