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Archive for the ‘Scary Puppets’ Category

The Puppet Menace

Originally posted on BabyCenter.com 11/26/06

‘What if there were no fairy godmothers?’ was the title of a free puppet show that Olivia, Hailey and I went to see at the library this past week. The troupe of two from Cincinnati consisted of an animated rotund gentleman with a booming voice and a shapely artful young lady. They put on an energetic hour long performance noticeably interacting with the puppets as a part of the show. The plot of the story was a fairy godmother that needed a vacation but couldn’t trust her assistant to do the job. So the beak-nosed girl tricked the baggy eyed, dark featured aid into believing she was going on a trip to Aruba and placed an invisibility spell on herself. The assistant underwent many tests of fairy godmothering, err… fairy godfathering by helping those in need as the real fairy godmother invisibly looked on.

This was Hailey first live performance of any kind and Olivia’s third. Upon entering the impromptu theater at a small local library branch Hailey followed her sister’s play-it-safe lead by sitting in chairs (intended for the parents) located at the rear of the beige carpeted, undecorated white walled, brightly lit, conference/all-purpose room instead of parking in the front row near the dark velvety curtained castle stage on the floor like all the other children. Ok, wasn’t going to force them into anything uncomfortable so I sat between them.

At the beginning of the first scene Hailey began to tremble. Her lips quivered. She wasn’t crying or hiding. She was glued to the action, entranced by the actors and puppets. I pulled her into my lap. She didn’t blink. I couldn’t figure out if she was scared or nervous or over stimulated I just whispered in her ear that daddy had her and it would be ok. Are puppet shows scary?

The first piece of the three act set was a simple adaptation of Cinderella, a story both my princesses are familiar with, creatively intertwined with baskets and aptly named Baskerella. The lively puppets of this sketch were made of wicker and assorted basket parts. The fairy godfather did a fine job of helping Baskerella make it to the ‘basketball’ passing his first test.

Olivia was on the edge of her seat, laughing along with the jokes, shimmying closer to the stage and announcing play by play for Hailey. Several times I suggested that she should go and sit up front on the floor with the other kids, she would hesitantly mull over the idea but kept retreating to the seat next to me.

The next two acts were twisted fables of magical elves and a mystical crocodile with sublime, well crafted puppets. The bits were good for the kids also containing funny wholesome adult humor too. The fairy godfather passed all the rigorous tests to the dismay of the imaginarily cloaked fairy godmother and she finally conceded and fessed up to her trickery.

Should I have removed Hailey from the audience? I couldn’t figure her out, she didn’t leave my lap for the duration, she eventually stopped nervously fidgeting about half way through the show and it wasn’t until a puppet that looked awfully similar to Ernie, the lovable guy from Sesame Street who made a short appearance for a very small role that she was able to breathe easy. “Ernie daddy.”

When was my first puppet show? How young was I? Maybe five or six. I can’t recall many details, other than the performance was held in the library of my elementary school. I barely remember the sock puppets embellished with yarn behind one of those tiny curtain window stages that the puppeteer crouches beneath which was completely different from the one whole wall encompassing set and enchanting puppets at the show we just saw. Olivia and Hailey are probably too young to commit their first puppet show to long term memory, but I thought they shouldn’t be too young to start an appreciation for live performances. Am I wrong? Olivia liked it however I may have unwittingly inflicted a lifelong fear of live theater mentally scaring Hailey.

***

Sunday, Kim and I took the kiddos to our local community center for a Holiday Hoopla event to benefit the preschool. Well of course the first thing on the agenda was a puppet show. The two elderly, probably husband and wife, puppeteers were of the local variety and lacked chutzpah for their work. The bland, unenthusiastic, show was a reenactment of the historical story of Hanukah. The lifeless puppets were merely glorified socks decorated with ancient robes and plastic armor.

At the beginning of the show Hailey’s body started to convulse in a puppet induced seizure. Kim worryingly turned to me, “she’s shaking.”

Shrugging my shoulders, “Yea, she did that the other day. She’ll be alright.” I snatched her from Kim and put her in my lap.

Part of the Hanukah story involves a brutal Greek king bent on world domination wishing to destroy Jewish faith and force the Jewish people into worshiping Greek gods. When the Greek soldiers came to ransack the temple of Jerusalem Hailey turned to me curling into a fetal-ball shielding her eyes from the ravenous puppets. Kim couldn’t take another minute of the emotional-endangerment, “that’s enough!” grabbing Hailey and headed for the exit. I asked Olivia if she wanted to stay and she shook her head, “I want to go with Mommy!” following Kim out the back.

***

Tuesday morning while informing the girls of our plans for ‘daddy day’ to visit a hands-on exhibit at the city library, ‘Exploring the World of Fairy Tales,’ Hailey shakily questioned, “Puppet show?”  With a never been seen before petrified look on her round face, I had to assure her that there would be no puppet show at this library. Is Hailey now terrified of puppets?

It surprises me that of all things, puppets frighten Hailey. She plays with puppets at home and at preschool. We have made sock puppets and Bubie (my mom) bought a puppet dress up set that she plays with all the time. Which leads me to believe that she is not scared of the actual puppets because she loves being the puppeteer (I’m her favorite puppet). What discomforts her is uncertainty. Until very recently she wouldn’t watch TV and Kim and I just thought that she was too active, unable to sit for more than five minutes at a time. Now I am realizing that she would rather immerse herself in activities that she can control. I can’t blame her for that. This little dynamo has never shown fear even after being physically and/or emotionally hurt, tenaciously conquering whatever obstacles stand in her way. I’m guessing she is in the process of breaking out of her egocentric shell or maybe I’m just searching for a selfish excuse for terrorizing my little baby. Either way, I’m sorry sweetie.

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