Our Musical Menagerie

A couple of years ago I would have been totally insane to have even considered taking my kids to a public musical performance without a rope or some kind of restraint and a whisky in my hip flask (joke).

I would have laughed at the thought of having to keep my boys in chairs for more than 15-minutes at a time.  However, they are ‘nearly 5’ and 6 respectively and they can sit down and listen to an interesting book and they do sit still to watch TV. However, they still have never sat through an entire home movie from start to finish. We always get half-way through and they’ve lost interest. They would much rather resume their wrestling match or pillow fight that was happening before I went crazy and put the movie on.

We only recently took them to see Ferdinand at the cinema because torrential rain had hit our campsite and we were desperate to get out of our tent. I was so relieved that they hadn’t sold out. I don’t remember much of the movie as I was totally exhausted from our awesome ‘camping holiday’ that I had fallen asleep and missed half of it. Maybe the kids did too?!

Anyway, back to a ‘Musical Menagerie’. This was the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (NZSO) and it was to be a ‘family concert’, plus my lovely friend Chris Lam Sam was presenting and narrating. I read the info and it said the show was 50-minutes. Chris is a fantastic children’s presenter and musician, and I am keen that the kids get exposure to all different kinds of music. I thought it was worth a try and bought the tickets.

The Opera House was full of noisy kids but then the lights went down, and the show started. There was a little bit of hush. The orchestra started playing and for the first 15-minutes my kids were interested and asking questions about the different instruments and what was happening. Chris came on stage in a bright scarlet suit and welcomed us all. It was a relief when he said the parents could relax as the children could shout when prompted, clap and stamp their feet. It was a kid’s show was after all.

I really started to enjoy it and stupidly got the lollies out way too soon! Too late, now we had a battle on our hands. My ‘nearly 5’ year old asked me every 5-minutes for another one. Then the temperature of the theatre started heating up and my boys started complaining they were too hot and thirsty. Luckily, I had brought a water-bottle (no, not my hip flask!) and they were happy sipping from that. ‘Nearly 5’ kept on saying, “I’m hungry”, “I need another lolly” and “when is it going to be over?”, while my husband patiently tried to distract him and get him back into the storytelling on stage. Well done Dad.

Roald Dahl’s ‘The Three Little Pigs’ was wonderfully narrated by Chris and kept the kids entertained for possibly another 15-minutes. My boys especially liked Chris’ facial expressions, his actions and the musical accompaniment of the scary wolf.

The temperature in the theatre continued to soar, and ‘nearly 5’ was saying he was too hot, trying to strip-off his clothes – my husband desperately fighting him to keep his clothes on. It was stifling and sometimes as a parent you must pick your battles, so we caved and let him strip off his t-shirt. I could sense my husband was close to throttling him and sat ‘nearly 5’ on my lap. Meanwhile, our 6-year-old was also too hot, saying he was tired and he wanted to lie down.

With the t-shirt wrestling, fidgeting, flopping, and constant whinging I could see how the joke was on us. The ‘menagerie’ was in the audience. As parents we had brought our little monkey’s out of their cages, stupidly thinking we would “give them a cultural experience” and we had just spent 50 long minutes trying to tame them. It did get me thinking though…the flight of the bumblebee would be the perfect accompaniment for our next family wrestling match.