The day after the school shootings (I have such a very hard time even typing the more accurate term, “massacre”) in Newtown, CT, we went to Mark Morris’ The Hard Nut, a romp which makes it difficult to sit through an ordinary Nutcracker again. We’d gotten the tickets months ago. I held my son on my lap the whole entire time, had my arm around my daughter the whole entire time.
She was frightened during the scene when the soldiers fight the mice. The dancers had amazing mouse masks on, and when the mice were attacking the soldiers, they reared their heads back to reveal sharp teeth (merely part of the design on the cloth of the mask). My daughter buried her head in my shoulder and asked me to tell her when the scene ended. Did the same again each time the mice came on stage.
That was a dance scene at The Nutcracker.
I have no doubts about whether I should tell her about what just happened to twenty children between her and her brother’s age. Not right now.
During the day the next day, Sunday, I took my son to a magic show put on by our school’s second grade teacher as a fundraiser for the school’s art program. Our school’s principal was there with her two children (a daughter and son, each the exact age of our daughter and son). I hugged her long and hard, and she readily hugged back. I told her I would be hugging her as frequently as I could in the coming weeks, if that was okay by her. She said definitely, it was okay by her.
The weight on her shoulders, both mother and principal, is enormous.