Several years back, I had a show pretty far away from home on a Friday evening. My wife was working, and we had arranged a babysitter for the evening. I had the kids showered and in their pj’s, and was ready to walk out the door when the sitter arrived.
She was a bit late, but I always build in extra time to get to gigs. So I waited. And waited. And waited. And it was getting closer and closer to the time I ABSOLUTELY had to leave, and it turned out that there was a misunderstanding with the sitter about what time she needed to be there.
There was no way she was going to make it by the time I had to leave.
Stress levels shooting way up, I had my kids quickly get dressed. This is when they were very young, and getting dressed took a lot longer than it does now. Plus, it was winter which meant coats and hats and boots and mittens.
“Why?”, they inquired with amusement, having just put their pj’s on.
“You’re coming with me.”
“Hooray!”, they squealed with delight. They were more enthusiastic about this development than I was.
So, got the kids dressed, we jumped in the car, and hit the road in a blizzard on a Friday evening during rush hour. Got to the gig, dashed in, got set up faster than I ever had, and was ready to do the show for a family night at a school.
I set my kids down in the front row off to the side, I think they were two and four at the time, and of course they immediately started wrestling with each other. I don’t know, they were caught up in my frantic energy or something, and pretty much BOOM – decided it was time to tumble as I started my show.
To make up for the misunderstanding, our sitter had driven out to my gig to meet us, she got the kids calmed down and the show went well, but that’s an experience I won’t soon forget.
My wife is traveling for work three out of four weekends this month. Our kids are older now, but I didn’t book birthday shows for any of these weekends. It’s too stressful to arrange everything when she’s gone and the kids have hockey and choir and various activities going on. I’m out in Plainfield or wherever, phone turned off for a show, incommunicado… it’s stressful for me.
I do have one show tomorrow, but it’s one to which I can bring the kids. It’s at a library, it doesn’t happen to conflict with any hockey games or anything, and my kids are old enough now to keep themselves entertained while I work. So, I’ll bring ’em along.
People always assume it must be exciting for my children to have a dad who does magic and puppet shows. But they’ve been watching me do this their whole lives.
Ask them if they want to watch one of my shows, they’re like, “Meh…”
I rehearse at home and used to perform weekly shows at their preschool classes. They’ve seen a thousand Mister Kipley shows. But, they’re old enough now that I’m confident they won’t be wrestling in the front row during the show. I expect a smoother experience this time.