The other night my two daughters were performing at a local college’s theatre as part of their dance school’s annual show. I’m sure other parents will be aware of this sort of thing. Your child’s two minute performance will be by far the best part of the entire evening as that’s what you’ve come to see after all. The other three hours will be filled by a rag tag of show offs, ill fitting costumes and poorly executed wannabe Diversity routines which have all the grace and panache of a cat nodding off on a narrow ledge and inevitably falling off it.
Now, to be honest this particular show wasn’t too bad. Trust me, I’ve been to a number of these and there were no phoney American accents in a song and dance routine and there weren’t any outfits worn by the girls taking part to make you shuffle awkwardly in your seat whilst wondering why dance schools haven’t progressed along with the rest of civilised society since the Minipops. I could have sat there and had a quite enjoyable… OK, maybe not enjoyable… quite pleasant… OK then, relatively agreeable time apart from one thing.
Unfortunately for me, sat behind me were a young couple and their toddler. Don’t get me wrong, I realise this is early days in our blogging time together, I’m not about to call for a blanket ban on all young couples and their toddlers! Relax reader, I know you’re already reeling from the image I’ve conjured up of the Minipops earlier not to mention the reference to Katie Hopkins in the title but stick with me! I’m a reasonable man. This wasn’t a West End Show featuring that gobby one from Blackpool who won that Andrew Lloyd Webber thing and that bloke with the perm who was on the other Lloyd Webber thing who married Denise van Outen, who incidentally was a judge on that said Lloyd Webber thing. (I’m sure it was all above board and after all it was a long time ago and besides it didn’t last. Who’d have thought eh?) Anyhow, I digress, you get the point, this wasn’t Broadway, I understand a young couple might bring a toddler to an amateur kids dance show and the toddler might not quite understand the etiquette of watching any sort of performance.
However, there are a few things I might, not unreasonably, come to expect from said parents and toddler:
- Said toddler will no doubt want to start a conversation throughout the show, mainly starting by pointing at the stage and audibly shouting, “Wha’s tha’?!!” As a parent your response should be, “SSSSSHHHHHH!” and not encouraging the toddler by answering in full, generally having a conversation with the toddler and therefore not establishing the basic building blocks of theatre etiquette for later life.
- Inevitably, said toddler will point towards the stage whilst shouting, “Wha’s tha’?!!” I’m not a fan of having a toddler sticking and poking their fingers in my ears.
- I appreciate three hours is a long time for a toddler to sit still. I’ll give a little leeway here, as I find sitting still for three hours can be difficult too and I’m nearly forty! Now, when the boredom threshold of the beloved toddler becomes so thin that they resort to kicking the seat in front of them constantly, and might I add, not even in time with the music! At least teach the child some rhythm for goodness sake! As a parent, your response must be to stop them immediately rather than ignoring it whilst continuing making small-talk with the aforementioned toddler.
- As sure as night becomes day and Routine 33 leads to Routine 34 the unchastised toddler will become wary of merely kicking the seat infront of them, MY SEAT(!) infront of them and look to expand their horizons accordingly. My seat, provides some resistance to the constant kicking, if not to my growing sense of anger, at least to my lower back. My neck and head though are sadly exposed however. Ah! The wonder of kicking a random stranger’s head as an annoying little brat, whilst on stage a young man portraying Austin Powers shouts, “Oh Behave!” The irony is inescapable.
Now at this point I turned around and pleasantly gave the internationally recognised face for, “C’mon eh, keep your kid in check will you please?” You can’t risk saying anything of course, because you don’t want to cause a scene at your children’s dance show and Austin Powers is in full swing with his rendition of, “Yeah baby!” Mum is too busy making smalltalk with the foot toting bruiser to even notice whilst Dad begrudgingly utters a, “Sorry mate.” and nudges Mum to deal with the situation.
Ten minutes later and the kicks start again. I start to persuade myself that there should be some sort of Proficiency Test for Prospective Parents. Incidentally, I also think there should be a Proficiency Test for Umbrella Users, particularly for short people who can be literally lethal swaggering about with a brolly! (For the record I can’t tell you how happy I am to get that umbrella line in so early into these blogs. I used it for years on the radio and the sense of pride I’m feeling is immense right now!) As the voice in my head makes the whole Proficiency Test for Prospective Parents sound a valid vote winning policy for a brighter future, I start to see Katie Hopkins’ bile filled, screwed up face in my mind genuinely trying to convince me into believing it.
Immediately, I come to my senses and start to kick the seat in front of me.