“I don’t want to see a show”, Lakshmi wails. Oh dear, I think, how is this day going to pan out. I have booked tickets for a children’s show at the Unicorn theatre. Earlier this year she enjoyed their ‘Polar bears’ show, although she insisted on sitting at the back. Shows are starting to become traumatic experiences and I am not sure how it started. She hated her first cinema experience watching ‘Toy Story’ and now ‘Frozen 2’ is out of the question. We tell her that we are going to London on the train to visit a toy shop.
At the station Lakshmi insists that I carry her onto and out of the trains, which gets a bit tricky at times as I jostle with the crowds. Most people are kind and give us space and seats as they stand aside while we settle our selves into the freed up seats. The plan was to visit the National Gallery for the Sunday morning children’s story telling session before making our way to the theatre. At these free sessions the magic carpet takes children to a painting to hear its story. An enchanting way, I believe, to instil a love of art in them at a tender age. However with small children the best laid plans are just that, plans. Life takes a different course around them and we go with the flow instead.
We have time for a nice lunch before the show and the cafe we walk past looks inviting. Mulled wine is on the list. I mull over the choices and settle for a nice hot cup of tea instead. Big mistake I realise later. The children’s drink and crayons arrive to keep them occupied, instead it is us who are occupied. The drinks get spilled and the crayons go straight into Lavinia’s mouth. Lakshmi wants to swap seats, she is in a funny mood. Probably stressed about the impending show. The food arrive and Lakshmi’s chips are smothered in sauce and she doesn’t want it. Lavinia is not hungry either.
Soon Lakshmi has a more pressing request. “Toilet, toilet”, the situation gets urgent. I take Lakshmi into the disabled toilet. She sits on the toilet and contemplates about everything around her. “Why is there a big mirror in the toilet”, the questions continue. Please can we get a move on, I urge. She is no hurry. There are people trying to get into the toilet and I can hear the voices outside. Finally by the time we come out, the queue is huge and my hot cup of tea and lunch lukewarm. “The joys of rearing children”, I sigh.
At the theatre, Lakshmi senses that all is not well. She wants to go home. I forcibly take her in. It is a small theatre and the performance today is a relaxed one. Even then it is quite embarrassing struggling with a child screaming “I want to go home”, at the top of her voice as we find some empty seats. We find a free corner near the back and settle down. She continues to whimper. I tell her that we will leave in 5 minutes of the show starting if she doesn’t enjoy it. She is determined that she will not enjoy it. She carries on with her request, but in a softer tone. Slowly she starts enjoying the show as the wolf tells her story and the duck and the mouse dance through their roles. By the end she is sitting up with wide eyes. As the show finishes she turns to me and says “there was no baddie”, in a surprised voice. “Of course there wasn’t”, I reply. “I can do my shows now” she smiles. She likes to entertain us with her impromptu shows and gets ideas from what she sees and hears. We join her mother and sister who are waiting in the play area as the show was not suitable for under three year olds. Later Lakshmi tells me that she doesn’t want to see any more shows till she grows up and I agree, maybe at least for a couple of years. Trauma can come in all shapes and forms and I think it is time for her to get over her fear in her own time.