Today we took Hazel to see a play adaptation of Raymond Briggs’ “Father Christmas”. This is a book we had when I was a child (probably bought here in England). It was Jess’s brilliant idea to go, and it was Hazel’s first play. She loved it. I loved hearing her sweet quiet voice asking questions, (“Are those real reindeer?”, “Why did he go to the bathroom in the play?”, “Why did he throw his presents on the floor?”, “Why did the dog keep taking his socks?”, and “He dances like I do!”) and seeing how absorbed she was. After the play, there was further commentary. (“Maybe we can bring Santa to the Osorios’ house,” and, “I want to see the Santa play again,” and, “Is it Christmas?”) I view Hazel as a fairly sophisticated little person, and she is, but she is also still a little kid, with a very young person’s perception of reality, in which the line between what is real and what is fantasy is fine and sometimes non-existent. As with so many things having to do with parenting, this experience brings up much bigger questions about how we’re going to present the idea of religion to our children, how we’re going to talk about Christmas/Santa/presents, and how we’re going to handle making them aware of the ever-present sexism in our culture’s media, art, politics, etc. (the dog in the play is male and aggressive, and the cat is female and “sensitive”, for example).
While we were at the play, Martine took care of the babies. I brought over all the extra pumped milk and made bottles for her. It feels quite strange to go out and about without the twins, and since I’m so used to having them with me I get a little nervous about being so far away from them. It’s good for all of us, of course. Part of what has helped Hazel become so sociable is the fact that she’s been taken care of by so many different people. I’m glad that I haven’t allowed my parental paranoia to stop me from having babysitters, family, and friends care for my children. And, as Martine reminded me, she’s taken care of plenty of babies before. I think that taking the train makes me feel like I’m further from them, since when I’m in the States in my car, I have a (mostly false) sense of control: I can, at a moment’s notice, hop in my car and drive back to my children. But after all, the trains are frequent and fast, and it doesn’t take very long to get around. And in a car one can get stuck in horrible traffic. And in England, a call to the UK 911 equivalent will bring an emergency car to the house in a minute or less, and one doesn’t have to worry about paying the bill. So, this is another good lesson in doing things differently, that there isn’t just one good way. Living in another country is often an opportunity to see that we all have things to learn from each other.
When we get home it will be December. We’ll have to look for another play to attend. Maybe we can go with Hazel’s aunty and cousin, and have another wonderful family memory to share.