La La How The Life Goes On

We Prefer Fozzie

Posted on: May 16, 2010

The latest to-do in the Jones house involves puppets. Yup. Puppets. Bambina’s kindergarten class is going on a field trip to a local puppet theater this week and Bambina has announced that she will not be attending. Why? Bambina is terrified of puppets. Not all puppets; she’s totally fine with the “muppet” kind of puppet, you know, all fuzzy and googly-eyed and clearly not intended to be human. But any puppet that is remotely person-like freaks her out, not to mention the notion of having to go sit in the dark near them without Mama, since I cannot chaperone this trip due to my ECP therapy.

So now I’m torn. On the one hand, I don’t want to indulge her fears by not making her go on the field trip. On the other hand, I kind of feel like the school isn’t entirely making this easy, because the teacher doesn’t know what the specific show will be. I therefore can’t prepare Bambina in any way (is it Aesop’s fables? Something with a dragon? Will there be an evil stepmother queen?). In addition, I feel like Bambina has been such a star this year (friends will recall the Transition-to-Kindergarten anxiety of late 2009, now completely resolved, as well as her truly remarkable guts in dealing with all our recent upheavals including a new sister and a sick mother), that I’m not feeling particularly inclined to make her “man up” for a one-hour puppet show I know nothing about. Another girl in her class is also not going for the same reason: major puppet issues.

When this first came up my inclination was to just make Bambina go and to privately think, “Oh for heaven’s sake, child, they are just puppets!” But then I remembered being 5 years old in Scotland. I was in the hospital over Christmas, and a genius there thought it would be uplifting for the kids to have some clowns come through. Oh my god, I am still not over that day. Hear me now and believe me later: clowns are not funny and clowns are not uplifting. Clowns are creepy, ghoulish and scary, especially to kids. Of course the grownups around me were poo-pooing my abject terror, and I hated them for it. Like, okay, I get that this is not at all scary for you, big adult person, but I’m 5 and these guys are scaring me beyond anything I’ve ever felt in my life. Does my fear have to make sense to you to be valid? Or can you accept that I’m scared and help me, whether you think it’s stupid or not? I looked at the puppet theater website and the puppets are precisely the Mr. Rogers WhateverLand creepy person kind that make Bambina freak. You know–the Madame kind, with the big oversized noses and ghoulish features, even the ones who are supposed to be not evil.

So that’s my dilemma. I’m thinking about not making her go and perhaps using the summer to get her okay with puppets so we accomplish both objectives: not scaring the bejesus out of my 5 year old in the short term and not allowing a small fear to become a big one in the long term. What would you do?

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3 Responses to "We Prefer Fozzie"

The first thing I’d do is wonder what my friend Mrs. Jones would do, and then do that. Truly.

I think your plan of being OK with it in the short-term and resolving to fix it in the long-term — especially in light of the past three months in your house — is the perfect compromise.

Good luck.

I also agree to skip the show now and work on the issue over the summer. Kid’s anxieties are there for a reason, whether we understand them or not. I am dealing with some separation anxiety right now with my princess and can relate. You go girl!

Love you!

The teacher here says let her stay home. No field trip is really worth a child being uncomfortable. And the truth is that when the teacher is in charge of a class of kids, she is not truly going to have the time to devote the attention needed to help a student through her fears. I say find some good summer puppet theater shows for you to do together.

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