A review of the Sing-Along Messiah by Seve, age 5

“I wanted to sit in the back row because it’s higher up.  I REALLY wanted to sit in the back row.

I wanted to go see the top level, too.  We saw it at intermission, which was a lot of steps, but I like that better than an escalator because it’s better for exercise.  You can see more stuff but the seats are NOT soft.

I LOVE the seats that bump back and forth when you stand up.  Those are my FAVOURITE seats. You stand up a LOT in this show.

I didn’t get all the jokes.

My favourite instruments are the two trumpets and the two kettledrums.

My favourite song is Ha-le-you-lah.  It goes like this:


I got gummi bears during the intermission.  I also got a hot chocolate with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles after.

I REALLY wanted to leave after Ha-le-you-lah.  My mom let me play with her phone.

I did NOT like all the clapping after the man sang with the trumpets.  People just would not stop clapping!*

We got to do Ha-le-you-lah two times which is the best part when they do it with the drums.

People on the stage got flowers.  Then we went home.

Oh! And I liked the lights in the building, too, but my mom wouldn’t tell me what P-O-O-O spelled BUT GUESS WHAT IT SPELLS?**

It spells poo!  Now I understand that joke!

I would go see this show again.”

Massey Hall typo* Baritone Brett Polegato was outstanding.  The thunderous applause following The Trumpet Shall Sound was well-deserved.

** Seve asked me this question in the world’s loudest stage whisper. I had no idea what he was talking about until I looked up.

For a sense of what the afternoon’s performance was like, check out Tafelmusik‘s event page or watch this video and sing along to the Ha-le-you-lah chorus in the comfort of your own home.

Four no more

For the last couple of months, the kids have been on a big “pretending they’re animals” kick.  The target critters are usually puppies (rowr rowr!) or bear cubs (groggle groggle!) or kittens (meow meow, obviously).

They’re all cute and, after 12 straight hours of it, So. Freaking. Annoying.

It finally got to the point this evening where I told Seve that I just wasn’t going to respond to him — at all — unless he was speaking like a human:  “You can be happy or sad or scared or whatever … I am NOT talking to you unless you knock off that meowing. 100%.”

He made a vaguely hissy sound and walked away.

Fast forward to an hour later, when I’m trying to corral the kids up to bed.  Seve had just finished drawing a cat.  I was mildly eye-rolly about it (because CAT) but it was a really sweet drawing:


I made a big deal about it, telling him that it was really great and had to go up on the fridge right away.  At which point he burst into tears.

“Nooooo … I need to do another picture … it’s a flip picture … I have to do another one …”

I was having none of it.

“Upstairs.  NOW.  I’m going to grab some jammies and you’d better be upstairs by the time I’m done.”

By the time I was done, though, he was back at the kitchen table, putting the finishing touches on the second doodle I’d just explicitly vetoed.

The thing is … tomorrow is his fifth birthday.  Tonight, I was telling him about how five years ago my stomach was starting to hurt, and then I felt a little bit sick, and about how that was my body telling me that he was ready to be born.  And about how happy I was knowing that I was going to get to meet him soon on the outside, and how I was a little bit sad knowing that he wouldn’t be inside my tummy anymore.

And this is what my boy drew for me, on his last night of being four:


A letter to my son on his first last day of school

My Beaster.

Do you remember your first day of school?  You were still only three.  I think back on my own earliest memories and most of them do involve school, though I can’t remember my very first day.  It lies just out of reach for me now, more than 35 years later.

I remember picking your Kindergarten package up at your school in the dead of winter and being so excited to know that you had this experience ahead of you.  I took this picture:

beaster_kindergarten_regI showed it to your Papa and he he said something like, “He has no idea what’s going to hit him.”  I thought that was a pretty cynical take on things.  Yes, you were a pretty anxious kid — I also remember taking you to to visit the school a year ago, in late June, so that you could see the classroom and be less afraid, and when you were looking inside the teeny-tiny in-room bathroom, the school bell went off and scared the bejeezus out of you and you cried and clinged and wouldn’t let go until we were back outside — yes, you were still very young, but I thought you would be ready when the time came.

And you were.

We had a rough start.  Your classroom wasn’t ready yet, so you were in a different room for a couple of weeks until all the construction was complete.  You really loved that first room and were so sad to leave it.  You didn’t like the new bathroom, with its loud, industrial toilet.  There were a few accidents, a special sticker chart, until you felt more confident.  I remember being annoyed every time, because I knew you could do it.  It made me sad to think that maybe you didn’t know that, too.

Now, on the last day of school, I’m writing myself a list of things not to forget to bring home.  As we walked to school we listed the ones we could think of: lunch box, hat, Dr. Seuss book, inside shoes.  I’d forgotten until just now that you’ll have an extra change of clothes to bring home, too.  I can’t remember what the extra outfit was.  I know the pants will be two inches too short by now.  You haven’t needed those extra clothes in so, so long.

beater_first_dayBack in September, we went off to school, hand-in-hand, and I was a little worried for you, but not sad.   Not sad in the usual way — tears, and “my baby is growing up so fast” and all that.  I thought you were ready and I was excited for you to go.  That’s what I remember.

It doesn’t happen often but now that you are closer to five than four, you will sometimes get upset and will say to me, “Mama, I’m just sad,” and we’ll have a cuddle and try to think of some things that will make us feel happier.  I think you’re as surprised by the randomness of your feelings as I am.  That, my boy, you get from me.

Out of nowhere, today, on your last day of school, I am ridiculously sad.  It’s like I saved up all the traditional first-day tears and today is the day of release.  I’m sad you’ll have a different teacher (your new teacher will be lovely, I know it, but change isn’t really our thing).  I’m sad that your best friend won’t be in your class next year, though I’m glad you’ll have an opportunity to be fully your own person.

I will miss having you home for lunch, even though you’ve stayed at school for lunch since late last year.  I will miss making you lunch every morning.   You probably find that hard to believe, for all the panic it seemed to generate on a daily basis.  On the inside, I loved it.  I loved making sure you always had a little treat, like a cookie, and I wondered every morning what you would eat first (the cookie, I figured).

I am sorry for a lot of things that happened this first year — for the times you went to school upset because the grown-ups were arguing, for how unsympathetic — even mean —  I was to you that (one and only) time you got sent to the principal’s office.  Im very sorry our mornings were filled with so many “hurry up”s and “stop dawdling”s and “LET’S GO”s.

I hope when you remember the summer that lies ahead, you will have heard more “slow” and less “hurry,” more “sing” and less “quiet.”  That is my hope for you, and for me.

Before I had children — and you were, let’s not forget, the child I thought I might never have — I would read things like “heart filled to bursting” and the meaning, the full feeling of it, was lost on me.

Today, on your first last day of school, my heart is filled to bursting.  My heart, and my eyes.

I love you too too,



The what in the whatnow?

“We’re off the the Jungle of Flim-Flam-Fla-roo
To visit a beetle who lives in some poo!”

— P, imagining, or possibly just reciting from, an episode of TV’s
The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That

Voiced by Martin Short, the television version of The Cat in the Hat possesses all the calm and equanimity you might expect from a coked-up fabulist who likes to kidnap children and take them on “adventures.”  Okay, kidnap is too strong a word.  He first assures the kids that their parents “won’t mind at all” if they disappear together.  So that makes it … less creepy, I guess?

Whatever.  It’s on TV, so we watch it.

The other night, Seve and I were joking around and we started to come up with alternative combinations of cat and clothing (or rather, I did, because after the third or fourth one, he was laughing to the point of breathless hiccups).  For example:

  • The Cat in the Socks Knows a Lot About Blocks
  • The Cat in the Shirt Knows a Lot About Dirt
  • The Cat in the Shorts Knows a Lot About Forts
  • The Cat in the Mittens Knows a Lot About Kittens

And of course, les pièces de résistance:

  • The Cat in the Boots Knows a Lot About Toots
  • The Cat in the Shoes Knows a Lot About Poos

So by this time, I figured the rhythm and pattern had been well-established, and I asked Seve to come up with a rhyme of his own.  Here’s his contribution:

  • The Cat in the Underwear Knows a Lot About Airports

We’ll keep working on it, kiddo.

P.S.  At first I was regretful, then grateful, not to have gone with “The Cat in the Scarf,” because of course the only acceptable conclusion, if you’re a four-year-old, is “barf,” which is most certainly what I’d have been cleaning up if I’d make him laugh any harder.

If you think I’m talking about you here, yeah, you’re probably right.

If you think I’m talking about you here, yeah, you’re probably right.