Category Archives: kids

The Packing Gene

So, girlchild and I are going away this weekend.  On Friday I’ll pick her up straight from school and we’ll be off to New Hampshire for what is becoming our “traditional” girls’ weekend.  Of course, this year we are calling it “fencers’ weekend” so that her foster sister doesn’t feel more left out than already inherent in such an endeavour.  There is, after all, a fencing tournament on Saturday.

Girlchild is incredibly excited about this trip.  On Tuesday she asked me why I wasn’t packed yet. She asked me if she could pack, so I told her where to get luggage.  She dragged a luggage from the basement up to her room on the second floor, and proceeded to pack it.  An hour later she came clattering down the stairs with her luggage and added it to the pile I had started of “things to go with us”.

This morning I finally got a chance to open the luggage to see what was in it.  I was expecting, at best, half of the clothes she needs, and random toys.

What I found was a neatly packed luggage with one toy, one pillow, neatly folded (well as neatly as she could manage) clothes, pajamas, toothbrush and other toiletries, and two books.  Everything perfectly and logically arranged.

Wow.

Tonight, she can pack my luggage.

Ah the travails of parenting

Tonight was bath night. Delayed by a day because we got off our schedule two days ago.  Boychild wanted to go first, which was fine with me.  Girlchild was second.  I prefer to have fosterchild go third due to all the hair products I need to use in her hair.

During bath 1, I developed a cramp in my foot.  By bath 2, I still couldn’t get rid of the cramp and I was in terrible pain.  The girls needed a break from each other and frankly with the pain in my foot I couldn’t handle both of them in the small bathroom, so I asked fosterchild to go play in their room while girlchild got her bath.  Finally I realized that the cramp wasn’t going to go away where I was, so I left girlchild alone while I went across the hallway to my bedroom to lay down for just a couple of minutes.

I immediately started to feel better.  However, not one minute had gone by when I heard a loud crash… either something of thin metal had fallen down or something of thick glass had broken.  I bolted out of bed and ran into the hallway.  But now I have fosterchild in the girls’ room (or maybe downstairs) boychild somewhere I knew not where in the house, and girlchild in the bathroom.  And I didn’t know where the sound had come from so I did not know whom to check on to see if they were alright.  I can count on one hand, maybe one finger, the number of times the three kids were all in separate rooms and each without a grownup, and of course this horrible sound had to happen in one of these few times.  I called “who made that sound? What’s wrong? Is anyone hurt?” but of course, guilt kept the responsible child silent.  I called again, with more urgency in my voice, and finally boychild replied with “it was me”.  He had knocked over a glass bulb that was in his bedroom.  Yes it was his fault but it’s not like he did it on purpose.  I got him his pajamas and had him get dressed outside his bedroom due to the shards littering his floor.  Told him not to go back in, that I’d clean it up after the baths.

 

Sigh.  So much for relaxation.  But believe it or not, the foot cramp had largely resolved already.  I managed to get the other two baths in, then cleaned the glass (was so very much tempted to leave it to the husband).  Now, on couch while kids watch a movie under supervision I get to write this blog and get back to work.

Les Miz, the musical movie

Took the kids to see the new (Dec 25 2012) Les Miserables movie.  We caught the noon show on Dec 26.  Got there early enough to see most of the pre-show, and at a theater that has 20+ minutes of previews with every show, so we were there for a while.  A small group came in 10 minutes late (i.e. during the previews) and decided to sit right next to us, which would be fine except that we had all our coats on that seat (the theater was barely half full) and the gentleman at the head of the party asked the 7-yr-old girl if the someone was sitting there, and when she answered “no”, he started to move the coats, which included dropping mine on the icky theater floor.  I was pretty angry with him.  But anyways, that’s not the point of this post…

The kids are pretty familiar with the plot of the book.  They’ve listened to the soundtrack dozens of times, and watched the DVD of it a couple of times.  We’ve talked to them about the plot, filling in details that aren’t in the play but are in the book.

Still, I figured that the movie would be fairly emotional, so I talked to them about it ahead of time, reminding them that although this is historical fiction, it is fiction nonetheless, and more importantly this is a movie, with actors playing roles.  In other words, even if we see someone getting beaten up, or shot, or dying, they’re just pretending.  And when the movie started, boychild and I exchanged a few hushed whispers about the actors (Hey look Valjean is Wolverine, and the Thenardiers are both in Sweeney Todd!).  During the movie, they both did great.  Girlchild seemed engrossed, and although boychild seemed bored, it was only that his mind was racing with questions that he was dying to ask me about how the actors managed to change their physical appearance.

So, guess who bawled their way through the movie?  Yup, me.  At one point boychild leaned over and offered me a tissue.  I was sniffling and bawling pretty badly.  “Bring him home” gets me every time, as do some other scenes.

Overall, the film was pretty good.  I was annoyed that they cut out the singing interplay between the guards and the Bishop.  The bishop being my favorite male part in the show, I was uber-glad that they gave that role to Colm Wilkinson, who I had been lucky enough to see in the Valjean role mumble-years ago.  Also, glad that they brought the bishop out at the end instead of Eponine, who never made any sense in the last scene except for the fact that the role is an alto.

Was worried about Russel Crowe as Javert, and sadly he lived up to my lack of expectations for the first part, although he seemed to grow into the role (I’d be curious to learn what order they filmed the movie in).  Javert’s whole purpose in life was as a rules-follower, and this (to me) came out in his character on stage as the one who sang in perfect beat.  So, Mr. Crowe taking artistic liberty with the pacing just stuck me like a splinter under the fingernails.  Like I said, though, he did better as the movie progressed.

Also, the director is fairly well known for his close-in shooting (srsly, the camera is inches away from the actors’ faces sometimes).  This worked well as a technique for some scenes, especially for the early Valjean and Fantine, who can’t look you in the eyes… so when they do their best not to look at the camera, the trick works well.  But for other scenes and characters, the method worked less well (or at least, Mr. Director, let them defiantly look straight at the camera).

I was a little worried before the movie about the Marius they chose (Eddie Redmayne), but really he did a wonderful job.  He emoted well and also sang well.  His unique look (all those freckles!) worked well in a cast full of Mariuses, too.  (In the student tavern scenes, I kept looking at all the actors and wondering whether they had all played Marius in some production of the musical).

The actress they cast for Eponine (Samantha Barks) was also very well suited for the role.  The costume they had her in was a little odd, in that it looked like she could snap in two at the waist, but she managed to sing despite it, and her broad face with tiny teeth somehow really suited the role (originally well fed but now less so).  Which is odd, because all the pictures of her on iMDB show her as having a mouth full of large white teeth.  So either they put makeup on her teeth or one set (the tiny ones in the movie or the big ones she normally sports) are fake.  Whichever way it goes, it worked for the film.

My best praise must be saved for Gavroche (Daniel Huttlestone) although it was a toss-up between him and the ever-solid Hugh Jackman playing Valjean.  I can’t find much about young Huttlestone, except that he’s about 12 years old.  His presence was rock solid, his singing clear and superb, and his poise evident.  They did a bit with Javert and Gavroche after the kid’s death which I had to scramble to explain to the kids (i.e. it’s not in the book) which added a nice touch, too.

As usual, my kids were the only children in the theater.  They were well behaved and seemed to appreciate the movie.  I watched them quite a bit, and once again was struck by just how pretty their features are.  Girlchild breaks my heart with how cute she is, and boychild’s recently developed freckles add an impish quality to his impossibly large eyes and long lashes, and perfect lips.  But I digress…

Mummers’ Play

Every year, our church (UU) puts on a traditional English Mummers’ Play, “St. George and the Dragon”, featuring as many kids from our congregation as want to be in it.  The kids get their first role some time around kindergarten, and every year they play a different role until about 7th grade, which is when most of them choose not to participate any more.  There are parts great and small, depending on age and ability, and many many parts with a few lines each for most of the kids in the middle.

The play changes very little from year to year, and as it is essentially one long poem, most kids have much of the play memorized, including my own two.

This year, girlchild played “Buyer”, the first half of a role introduced last year due to the increasing number of children.  Buyer comes on stage right after “Turkish Toffee”, a character that has been around longer than our involvement with this congregation.

I’ve been ostensibly helping with the play (“Ostensibly”, because the fine lady who runs it barely needed my help this year.)  My job on performance day was to sit front and center and cue any forgotten lines.

Speaking of girlchild, she had a hard time memorizing her lines, but she pulled it through every single time during rehearsal.  Then, came the performance.  She listened intently for her cue and boldly stepped on stage, declaring “Here come I, Turkish Toffee, I’ll sell you all the finest coffee”.  At this point, she paused, realizing there was something wrong.  The hushed murmur from the audience didn’t help either.  I saw her face flush, as mine would had I been in her shoes.  I could feel what she was going through…. the urge to flee and hide and cry is all but overwhelming.  Or pee yourself.  That too is an option.  She stood there, like a deer in headlights, and I tried to cue her and cue her.  She eventually heard me, but looked straight at me like my words made no sense.  So I took a different tack… I shot her a huge smile, and said “Breathe. Take a big deep breath and start over”.  Somehow, she did.  She started over, with the right lines.  Tentative at first, but but stronger with each line, so that by the time her few lines were over she was speaking them like a true champ.

 

Then, Buyer tried to pay for her purchase, and when she opened her purse, it opened completely and all the plastic coins went skittering across the entire stage.  Poor kid.  At least her lines were over, and so she picked them up, put them back in the purse, and walked off stage.

 

Sure, she messed up her lines, but frankly with the play the way it’s structured, I’m surprised her kind of mistake doesn’t happen more often.  I am incredibly proud of her for managing to push through and get her lines out.  She showed poise well beyond her 7 years.  This, she frequently does, and I find myself forgetting that she’s not twelve yet.