My wife and I decided that this was the year we are going to attempt to take our daughter (4 years) to see The Nutcracker performance at Belk Theater.
Now, I have to admit that I don’t really have a passion for ballet. From what I remember of The Nutcracker it has (a lot of) times where it gets kind of long and tedious. For this reason I think some may be hesitant to spend the going rate on tickets for the entire family to attempt to see it with a four year old. Still, it’s a nice holiday themed cultural event, and as much as I love the holidays we just couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
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So a plan was put in place.
Operation Nutcracker Initiation has begun here at home.
Now, a disclaimer: Before attempting this I think one has to consider their child. Our daughter does an amazing job of sitting quietly at church and can play by herself fairly well. I know of other kids her age that I wouldn’t even take to Monkey Joe’s they’re so wild. If your kid is one of those then I can’t be held accountable if the performance is ruined when your son, Buck Wild, starts screaming because you won’t let him run up and down the aisles.
Step One: Play up the event. It’s easy- four year olds generally like getting dressed up. They love Christmas decorations. It’s like asking a dog if they want to go for a walk… it’s easy to get ‘em worked up.
Step Two: Buy a book. We found an awesome version of The Nutcracker story written/illustrated by Alison Jay at Park Road Books. I can’t recommend Jay’s version highly enough. My daughter has started carrying that thing around with her everywhere. We realized last night that she’s actually even memorized it.
Step Three: Listen to the music. Once your kid is familiar with the story start playing the music around them. If you do your homework correctly you can find a CD or download that lists exactly what actions are being performed to each song, which makes following along in the book a cinch. Because the music for the ballet is fairly ubiquitous this time of year, your kid will start to notice the songs during commercials, at the mall, and even on the radio. You’d be amazed at how excited this makes them.
Step Four: Plan for the event. We’re going to bring the book with us to the performance, the thought being that she’ll be less likely to get bored if she can follow along in the book.
The plan hasn’t really backfired, but has had some unintended consequences. My kid gets easily fixated on things (like… she has worn cat ears pretty much every day since September). Lately she’s taken to pretending she’s Clara (the main protagonist in the ballet) and dances around everywhere calling us “mum” and “dad” to stay in character (although Clara’s parent’s are never referred to in the story). The NC Dance Theater has its work cut out for them as much as my kid has blown this thing up in her mind.
I’ll let you know how it goes.