Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Best Perk of the Job

Last night, as I was doing my final pre-flight check for the boys (i.e. making sure they were all tucked in with blankets covering and Blanket and Tigger in their co-pilot positions), Andrew woke up-- sort of-- and saw I was there. Without saying a word, he leaned over the side of his bunk bed, gave me a kiss, and went straight back to sleep.

Being a mother is the hardest job in the world, but perks like that make it worth it.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Winter Movie Reviews

For those of you weighing what film you'd like to see next, I'm including Nicholas' thoughts on the winter blockbusters. Please note: when he says, "Great!" he jubiliantly raises both arms over his head and smiles. When he says, "Scary!" he furrows his brow, scrunches his nose, and frowns. He may be only 2 1/2, but the boy knows what he likes.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: "Harry Potter - Scary!"

Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith: "Star Wars - Scary!"

March of the Penguins: "Penguins - Great!"

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: "Wardrobe - Scary!"

King Kong: "King Kong - Very Scary!"

Nicholas came to his conclusions on the first two having seen the advertisemens on the sides of buses and in tube stations. His review for the latter three are more credible, having viewed "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" on Sunday and having seen the trailer for "March of the Penguins" and "King Kong" while waiting for the film to start.

Now those who have seen Nicholas on the town know that he is a superstar when it comes to the popular media. On Saturday, when London was blanketed with posters for "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," Nicholas would spot one from 50 paces away and yell, "Wardrobe!" While I had my doubts that he would enjoy the movie, I thought his older brother, age 6, would love it. How wrong I was.

I spent most of the movie with not one, but TWO young boys clambering over me in attempt to hide. Nicholas kept saying, "Scary!" but not once did he ask to leave or even cry. From the very start of the movie, when Nazis are dropping bombs onto London, Andrew was saying, "I don't like this movie. I'm scared. I want to go home." He kept saying that even after the bombings had stopped and the children are being evacuated via a train. ("Now, look, they're at a train station," I said. "There's nothing scary about that. We do it all the time.") It took me about 20 minutes to talk him down from the ledge, and even then, he didn't seem to enjoy himself very much (though he stopped asking to go).

However, when the action would heat up, he'd say, "Cover my eyes Mom! I don't want to see!!" Which, of course, I did, but then he would move my hands so that he could still see, but the hands would still be on his face so he could move them back, if need be.

After more than two hours of this, the movie ended, at which time Andrew turned to me, "That wasn't so scary, Mom."

Perhaps seeing a scary movie as a six-year-old is like childbirth: once it's all over, you forget the pain and the fear.

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Christmas Nativity: The Show Must Go On

Parents of primary school children are flocking to assembly halls this month to see the English Christmas tradition that is the nativity play.

My American friends need to know that in this country there's no pussy-footing around Christmas. EVERYONE, regardless of religion, nationality or preference, is understood to be celebrating Christmas. If you're not, or even offended by it, well, that's just too bad for you, as far as the English are concerned. In the U.S., on the other hand, people bend over backwards not to offend anyone, so it seems that there's less and less "Merry Christmas" greetings these days. Even Banana Republic, in an effort to include everyone, says, "Happy Winter." What's so happy about Winter? It's cold, you get frostbite, there'a real chance you'll break a limb on the ice. But I digress.

English primary schools traditionally mount a Christmas nativity play. Now some schools, it has been reported, have stopped doing this. Our school has not. I have to say, the first time I heard that they did a nativity play in a public school, it struck me as odd. But now I'm completely assimilated, so it doesn't bother me in the least (though I wouldn't go as far to say, "that's just too bad for you if you don't like it).

As with any quality production, the backstage drama was nearly more interesting than the play itself. Abby, the original actor chosen to play Mary, caught a terrible case of stage fright, so Poppy, her understudy, was brought in to play the part. Poppy stole the show and I'm sure she'll go on to great dramatic things. Meanwhile, Jack (the most shy boy in the class), turned white as a ghost and nearly lost his lunch when asked to be a Three King. His mother had take him home early that day, such was the pressure of appearing as a king. They picked someone else. When asked what part he had, Isaac, another Year One student, told his mother, "I'm a nothing." He was, in fact, a supplementary king. We are also lucky enough to be Close Personal Friends with the actor playing Joseph, though we were not lucky enough to get an autograph. Andrew, clapping off the beat ("It looks like he got your rhythm," Tim said), was chosen to be in the choir.

You certainly know the story, so there's no point in recounting it. Off-tune singing and ambivalent dancing featured prominently in this year's production, but there still wasn't a dry eye in the house. The actors and performers received a standing ovation when it was all over. Then they had to go back to class.