My parents flew in from Colorado this week, and yesterday I sent Will and Grammy off to Disney on Ice, while I taught at the preschool. Will lasted for about 2 minutes of the performance. Once he saw a car drive out with Minnie and Mickey, and listened to the audience erupt in cheers, he put his hands on his ears and told Grammy, “I don’t like it. I want to leave.”
Before she could argue the point, he was climbing the stairs toward the exit. So she suggested they talk about it outside. Grammy spent quite a while working to convince Will to give the show another try but Will remained determined to go – and he was too frightened or stubborn to say what it was that bothered him about the show. (Later, to me, he just announced: “That was not fun.”) He may have been the only kid among the hundreds in the audience who fled the show – but I’m certain he wouldn’t have stayed with me either.
We’re not quite sure why Will feels overwhelmed by so many performances, movies or even television shows with a slightly feisty character. (When he sees a mean dog barking on the benign PBS shows Martha Speaks he covers his ears and fetches me to turn the TV off.) I suppose I could expose Will to a bunch of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or horror movies or something to try to desensitize him. But I’d rather wait and let him live in his world of books, imaginary play and gentle PBS children’s programming for as long as he needs to. And we’ll try again for Fantasy on Ice Next year (even Will admitted that he might like it by the time he’s “8 or 9 -- or 10 or 12.”)
For the next couple months at least, I think we’ll skip big spectacle performances and go to outdoor music performances (like the downtown concert series that starts up next Friday) instead. At an outdoor concert, Will and Owen are both in their element – frolicking and dancing and perfectly at ease.