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Gracie Sees a Play (The Long Day)

cinderella Earlier this week, I took part in one of the dreaded rituals of parenthood: Bringing my darlings to a "kids' production" at the local theatre.

I'm sure you're familiar with the whole thing: A traveling company of actors comes to town to put on a few shows for the local kids. Last time around it was Snow White. This month, Cinderella and her friends paid us a visit. Grace had seen Snow White earlier this summer and left the experience less traumatized than I thought she would (though she still refuses to discuss any scenes involving the witch). So we committed to seeing Cinderella.

Our first mistake was described in the sentence preceding this one.

Grace and I would meet up with a friend and her little girl at the theatre. At home, we spent a week hyping the event. Talking about Cinderella, reading Cinderella books at bedtime, letting her run around the house in her Cinderella dress from Toys-R-Us. I even let her see the Cinderella DVD two whole times (I'm not a real fan of the electronic babysitter).

Needless to say, by Tuesday night (the show was Wednesday), she was in a near frenzy, and I was wondering why so many Disney stories feature single parents and/or orphans.

Anyway, at the last moment our arrangements for William fell through. I couldn't disappoint Grace and tell her that we'd have to cancel Cinderella (I believe that's called "Instigating a Riot" in legal terms), and the friend I was meeting was nice enough to offer to watch Grace during the show. "Just drop her off with me," she said, "You and William can go off to do whatever and come back later to pick her up." Brilliant, I thought. Done deal.

Grace, with her Cinderella wand in hand, and William and I got into the car with an hour to spare on a hot Wednesday morning and headed for town. An hour and fifteen minutes later, we were still sitting in the car, sweating, tense and stuck in the worst traffic jam in the history of motor vehicles (I looked it up). We arrived almost 20 minutes late. The parking lot was jam-packed, so we had to park so far away from the theatre I think we were in another zip code. Grace was walking towards the place like a snail in molasses so I scooped both her and William up and trotted, sweating and panting, to the box office.

After setting the kids down and waiting in line (I'm not the only deadbeat who can't get things together), I ordered our tickets and handed the woman my debit card. The machine refused read it. I had $13 in cash and needed $19 to walk into the door. So, I scooped up the kids and ran back into the neighboring zip code where I knew there was a twenty waiting in the car.

Grace wanted to know why we were going back to the car (rightly so), William wanted to know what all those new words daddy was saying might mean (rightly so) and I was wondering why I thought having children would be a good idea in the first place (rightly so). I got the twenty and jogged back to the box office while Grace swatted a screaming William with her magic wand, which was very annoying. It seems that its only "magical" ability is making people unhappy. I got the tickets, handed them to the girl at the front door and entered, soaked and miserable, the wonderful world of theatre.

I met my friend right away and apologized profusely. We all sat together, I opened up a bag of Goldfish crackers for William and we watched the show. Luckily, we hadn't missed too much. My friend said there were a number of announcements before the show started, regarding the use of cell phones, flash photography and blah, blah, blah.

The show was pretty good. It was theatre in the round, which is fun, but offered some creative challenges for the director. For instance, the Fairy Godmother put a "time-delay spell" on the pumpkin so that it wouldn't turn into a horse-drawn coach until it touched the road outside. I thought that was kind of funny. There were a large number of girls in the audience wearing their Cinderella dresses from Toys-R-Us whom I couldn't help but think of as pint-sized versions of Trekkies or those geeks who dress up as Star Wars characters. William lost patience around Act II, which we spent walking around outside (it's an outdoor theatre). Grace left enchanted, and all-in-all the day ended well. Still...

I'm not doing that again.