“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” – Albert Einstein

One thing I am proud of, in one of those stupid “look at what a good mommy I am” ways, is that I do make a concerted effort to expose Harry to a bit of culture at a level somewhere above Thomas the Tank Engine videos on the tube. Okay, so I will admit that this is unfortunately balanced out by my unabashed use of said videos to garner myself 30 minutes of peace to do little things, like, um, make dinner. Or tend to personal hygiene. You know, luxuries like that.

In my son’s short life, he has been to an assortment of cultural enrichment expeditions ranging from the Eastman Museum of Photography to a performance of Handel’s Messiah, to an Anuna concert in a gothic revival church. This weekend my son attended his first opera. Okay, technically he attended his first operetta, since it was a performance of Strauss’s “Die Fledermaus”, but it’s close enough to the real deal for an almost-three-year-old. It has the advantages of being light and fluffy, with lots of color and movement. It’s kind of a nice, kid-friendly prelude to the heavier fare. I think Wagner is a little intense for anyone under, say, forty.

It was just short of a disaster.

It started out well enough. We arrived early and Harry and I sat in the lobby of the Rep, sipping soda and eating peanuts. The pre-opera refreshments consumed, and with curtain call imminent, we found our seats which were on the first row of the Mezzanine with a beautiful unimpeded view of the stage.

We were not on the aisle. We were on the interior wall of the box. Just a tip for any of you who are contemplating the inculturation of your toddlers – pick an aisle seat. It becomes very important later.

Another tip for your piece of mind – if you are on the front row of the Mezzanine with your toddler, confiscate all small toys that may become projectiles at one point during the performance. While this is not as important later, it will result in a significant reduction in the stress from the constant vigilance that arises when you imagine some poor old gentlemen suffering the surgical removal of a Thomas the Tank Engine from his bald skull.

The first act went remarkably well. Harry was mesmerized. He stood with his nose pressed up against the guard rail of the opera box. His running commentary on the stage action was even quiet and polite; “Mommy, why is that lady crying? Mommy, why is that man hiding? Who is that man with the white hair?”

The first intermission came and went, filled with trips to the potty, more soda and peanuts, and the confiscation of the earlier mentioned Thomas. We settled into our seats for the second act.

And this, lovely guests, is the point in which I remembered, rather belatedly, that the line between fantasy and reality in a toddler’s world is blurred to the point of near non-existence. Which is not normally a problem. Except when their father is actually IN the opera.

Kris had a minor role in the opera as Ivan the Major-Domo. He didn’t have many lines, but he was a major sight-gag throughout the second act and was only person on stage at the beginning of the act – a fact which did not escape the audience present because it was announced VERY LOUDLY during the VERY QUIET beginning of the act.


“Shhh, baby, that is Daddy. Let’s be quiet and watch.”


“Shhh, baby, he is giving champagne to the people at the party.”


“Yes baby, but it’s a pretend party, we will meet Daddy after the party.”


At this point, my son commenced a display of his very Irish temper and proceeded to scream with rage – a scream cut short by my hand clamped over his mouth. When it became obvious that this was no mistake on his part, and any further cultural exposure would have to be made by forcibly gagging and binding him to keep him from leaping over the Mezzanine to the stage below, I decided that he had his dose of opera for the day, and it was probably best to beat a retreat.

Remember. Always pick an aisle seat.

Because if you have to haul a 30-lb. three year old through a dark theater, with your hand over his mouth and his feet dangling, tripping over the overstuffed purses of a row of blue haired old ladies, and guaranteeing that you will land in their laps, you WILL NOT be popular.

Sometimes it’s best just to leave the theater so they don’t recognize your face later when law enforcement is accessible.

I consoled myself with the Container Store and Starbucks for the rest of the afternoon until the opera has safely ended and we could slink back into the empty theater to pick up Kris. Of course, Harry was delighted to find that they had not cleaned up the released balloons from the end of the ill-fated party scene, and managed to steal off a car full before they swept them off for disposal.

Nevertheless, it made an impression.

As Kris buckeled him into his carseat and sat down behind the wheel to drive home. Harry called up:

“Daddy! Daddy, we had FUN at the OPERA!”

But for me, I think I will take my culture a little more on the side from now on.

May 5th, 2008 at 1:08 pm
6 Responses to “I’ll take a side dish of Culture, please”
  1. 1
    Deirdre Says:

    oh no!!!!!
    hehehehe….just one question:
    did da Moose crack up when Harry announced him?

  2. 2
    Sheila Says:

    And was mommy’s face as red as Harry’s hair? too funny.

  3. 3
    Stephanie Says:

    HEHE! You sure had an adventure! I love the Rep, but they’re so extremely expensive. I don’t get enough theatre in my life. ~sniffle~

  4. 4
    gerbil Says:

    oh the humanity!! but… that was awesome, one for the record books.

  5. 5
    OS Says:

    Holy crap that’s amazing that he sat through as much as he did! He’s such a good boy. Seriously! And I loved all the very smart questions that he had. Precious.

  6. 6

    So did Moose hear/notice his son’s ovation?