When the traditional Nutcracker Ballet began advertising in november, I thought about perhaps taking just Poppy. The two of us could have a special date night, and I figured she could probably handle sitting through the performance as she loves ballet, and anything 'adult' really. She would be pleased as punch to dress up and go out with 'just Mommy', at night! Then, as we talked about it Soren overheard us, and enthusiastically claimed he would like to go as well.
I took advantage of a black friday sale, and was able to get four tickets for a reasonable (still expensive) price. As christmas approached we talked about the ballet - how we don't talk while it's on and a little about the storyline. We told the kids that they could get a special treat at intermission, but only if they sat in their seats nicely and behaved.
Walking into the theatre was quite a magical experience. The kids were impressed with being downtown, at night, at a special 'adult' event. Yes, there were other children at the performance, but not a lot. As at most adult events, there is a quietness that varies greatly from childrens events. We chose not to go to our seats until the five minute warning bell chimed, thinking it would be better to let them walk around for a few extra minutes.
I purposely separated the kids - Poppy on one side, Soren on the other. I had read this article about getting your childen to enjoy the ballet, and the writer had actually purchased tickets in different sections for the two children - the idea being that they couldn't play/fight with each other if they got bored.
As the lights went down and the orchestra started, the kids faces were priceless. Both on the edges of their seats, mouthes slightly open, as they craned their necks to see what would happen. And then - the ballet started! Full of beautiful costumes, music, lights... they were entranced. The first half is very kid-friendly, with dancing polar bears and toys and of course the rat king. Tyler and I breathed a sigh of relief and settled into our seats. I'm sure those around us did too.
At intermission, we fulfilled our promise and bought the kids (and me!) massive ice-cream treats. No one asked to go home, or said they were bored. We talked about our favourite parts and then took our seats for the rest of the show. The second half is much more serious, with solos and quiet music and less overall theatrics. About halfway through Soren fell asleep, while Poppy cuddled on my lap and watched till the end. The kids have enthusiastically talked about it ever since, and have already asked to go back next year. I think we have a new tradition.