Swimming, softplay and Sainburys – this is my usual routine for a Tuesday, the one day off I spend with Mishty. I always try to organise playdates but my frantic texts sent on Monday evenings asking local mummy friends if they are free the following morning usually don’t get a positive response. Turns out everyone else makes plans weeks in advance rather than thirty minutes before.
But every now and then the Fun Mummy in me will do something cool and book tickets to see a children’s show to make up for it. Then I feel smug, basking in the pretense that I’m one of those cultural parents who take their children to the theatre dahling. The reality is that I have taken Mishty to see four shows now and each one has made me want to cut off my own ears and poke my eyes out.
The first one was The Tiger Who Came To Tea. This is about (spoiler alert) a tiger who comes to a girl’s house for tea (clue’s in the title) who eats all the food and drink there (but not the humans who would presumably be more filling than all the buns and cake). This story can be read in five minutes but to make it last for a whole agonizing hour they fill it with songs and panto-style scenes. Lots of them. Some of this went down really well and Mishty was laughing and happily joining in. But some bits left him confused because a lot was happening that was not in the book. Also if you’re only three you can’t always make out the words in the songs. Also the songs are quite shit. On the bright side, he had fun day out in London and I binged on carbs at Pizza Express after.
The next one was Peppa Pig. It reminded me of the Rocky Horror show, only with pig puppets and possibly Mr Potato-Head. I don’t even remember the plot, just the annoying singing. Every two minutes a pig would burst into song, so headache-inducingly loud I just wanted to clobber the actors with the puppet they were pretending to play. Presumably the volume was intended to drown out all the crying babies who were like me, desperately wishing they were anywhere but there. A traumatic experience.
The Gruffalo I had high expectations of. I’d seen the BBC animation, the plot was decent and it was on at my local theatre. We got there and I was more excited than Mishty. The lights dimmed around us and focused on the stage. Mishty folded his arms and said he wanted all the lights off and was very grumpy that I couldn’t make this happen. Then the standard panto bits happened and instead of joining in with all the other screaming children he just said, “it’s too loud” like a moany old lady. This was not what I had envisaged. Then when inexplicably the snake started speaking in a Mexican accent and dancing with castanets (this was definitely not in the book) he was not impressed, saying loudly, “this is rubbish”. While he had a point he sounded so ungrateful I decided then and there, no more theatre treats (although he did say he liked it by the end).
But I forgot my rule when I saw Tiddler And Other Tales on and bought tickets. I got three this time as it was on the weekend so we could all go as a family, but mainly because I wanted Hubby to suffer as well for a change. As soon as the show opened with a confusing medley of people playing with random objects that nothing to do with any of the stories, Hubby looked at me in horror, a look that said, why have you brought me here and how can I hold onto my sanity for another 59 minutes?? Welcome to my world.
To be fair to the three actors playing all the characters on a budget set that required a lot of imagination, they weren’t half bad and it was less singing than Peppa Pig. Unfortunately Mishty told me ten minutes in he was hungry – the one time I had no food on me because I stuffed him for breakfast only an hour before and thought he could last. So then he wasn’t interested because all he could think about was food and kept fidgeting and whining. I started falling asleep but a sudden burst of song rudely interrupted my drowsy state and made me drop my phone in a crack between the seats. I fumbled around on the floor while puppets prancing in the background before realising the entire seat needed to be unscrewed and I had no hope of getting it without help. At the end when I asked Mishty if he enjoyed the show, he said he said yes but an hour later when I asked something else about it, his response? “I don’t remember”.
Culture is wasted on the youth. Next time I’ll stick to Sainsburys.