The Nutcracker and The Grinch

What I wanted to say to The Grinch
Today I met The Grinch, live and in person.

My mom took all the girls to see the Toledo Ballet's performance of The Nutcracker today. The kids were so excited as they're all dancers (the oldest two are in ballet and lyrical, while Emma is in tap and lyrical).

As the auditorium filled up, it was clear that this was the "kid show" (it was the Sunday matinee, after all). Every row was filled with parents and grandparents with young kids in tow. Every row except ours. Aside from our group (me, my mom, my sister, and three girls ages 6 to 9), the rest of our row was filled with a group I have name The Grinches.

Emma was sitting next to me and as the lights dimmed she started WHISPERING questions to me "Mommy, where is Clara?" "When is the Mouse King going to be on?" "Where is the Nutcracker?" (See what I said there? She WHISPERED her questions...as quiet as a mouse).

They were the simple queries of a little girl who was beyond excited to see this show.

Suddenly, Mr. Grinch leans over and says "She shouldn't be talking during the show."

I replied (with my blood boiling), "She's five." (In actuality, Emma is six, and will be seven in a month but I was so mad that my brain made her five).

And he said "She needs to learn sometime." 

What that what?

Friends I tell you I had to literally BITE MY TONGUE for fear of what I might say to Mr. Grinch. I was (and still am) so INCREDIBLY ANGRY that someone - a complete stranger - had the gall to tell me to silence my child and in turn, try to give me parenting lessons.

It took all my willpower to not turn to him - during the opening scenes - and tell him exactly what I thought of his rude, callous, narrow-minded, hateful behavior.

Instead, I whispered to Emma that we needed to talk even quieter because there was a 'grumpy' man next to me who didn't like people talking. She proceeded to look at him and stick out her tongue. I found great humor in that. (And it should be noted here that NO ONE but ME saw her do this because it was DARK in the auditorium. Although I do sort of wish Mr. Grinch would have seen it.)

At the intermission the woman in front of me turned around to tell me how appalled she was at Mr. Grinch's behavior and that he had also told her and her friends to be quiet. Then, the lovely family two rows behind me (whose adorable little girls who excitedly asked questions throughout Act I) said they too had been told to 'shut up' by The Grinch and his Grinchy family.

The Grinches had also threatened to call the ushers on everyone seated around them. I guess perhaps they should have watched the show from soundproof bubble. [It was at this point that I wished I was suffering from bronchitis so that I could disrupt their viewing even more.]

And in fact one member of The Grinch Family DID call an usher on the Adorable Girls family when the grandma told them the girls were not going to "be quiet." The usher actually walked down the aisle after Act II started, shined his flashlight at the little girls and then stood "watch" at the end of the row just to make sure no one was misbehaving.

What the hell is wrong with people?

The Nutcracker has NO DIALOGUE at all. It's music and dancing, that's it. And if you happen to be 4 or 5 years old you are going to have questions. And in my mind, kids have every right to ask those questions during a matinee performance that HAS AN AUDIENCE FULL OF KIDS. This was not a black tie formal event. It was a family affair.

So I can only hope that Mr. Grinch and his family receive nothing but coal in their stocking this year because they are the first winners of my 2013 "Bah Humbug" Awards. There was no excuse for their unkind words and negative attitude toward little kids. And I fear there is no hope that Mr. Grinch's heart will ever grow three sizes. Ever.

[An update: As you'll see from several comments it appears that some people believe I am a horrible mother for allowing my child to ASK QUESTIONS during a live performance. Oh, and it's also appalling to some that I found it amusing that my first grader had a "normal" kid reaction and stuck out her tongue. An act, which by the way, NO ONE SAW BUT ME. How dare I allow my child to be  a normal six year old? She's probably going to grow up to be a sociopath because I laughed when she stuck out her tongue. From some of the comments on here it also appears that some people think I should be banned from all future viewings of The Nutcracker or any other live performance because my daughter and I are classless people who don't belong at public performances of any sort because we don't understand THE RULES. It must be wonderful to be so perfect and have the freedom to pass judgment on everyone.]

ANOTHER UPDATE: I have had to remove a comment left by someone named "Pam" because she had the nerve to call Emma - my first grader - a BRAT and therefore I am also closing comments on this post. Clearly some of the people who chose to visit my blog over the past two days and leave their negative and judgmental comments believe that it is OK to attack young kids via a comment box. I find this sickening and incredibly disheartening. I cannot imagine EVER leaving a comment on anyone's blog that called their child a "brat" or anything other negative term. The fact that people like "Pam" exist in this world makes me sick to my stomach. 


  1. I read your story yesterday. I had to come back here today to comment.

    I started taking my daughters to live theatrical performances when the older one was 6 and the younger one was 4. They are 23 and 21 now and love theater and dance and live performances.

    I sympathize with you, but I also sympathize with the gentleman you called "the Grinch". Unless the performance was specifically billed as a children's show, he came to the performance expecting to hear the score as well as see the dancing. The music for "the Nutcracker" is among the most beautiful ballet scores I've heard.

    By the same token, when I saw the Broadway revival of "Annie" a few months ago, with an audience full of little girls, I knew that the level of decorum in the theater would not be the same as with an all-adult audience when we saw "Kinky Boots". As an adult without children in tow, you have to have some tolerance for other people's children.

    I would not expect a four year old, or even a six year old, to be completely silent during a performance. A child is going to have questions, but she can be taught to ask her questions very quietly. As you did after the gentleman complained.

    I once had to remove my daughters from a theater during a performance of "A Christmas Carol". Even considering it was a theater full of children, their behavior was unacceptable. It happened. Once. and only once.

    You're right, the gentleman and his family would have been happier at an evening performance, with fewer children. Maybe they even over reacted to the level of noise in the theater. But your almost 7 year old daughter can watch a performance in a theater without disrupting other members of the audience.

    And for you to find humor in her rudeness -- sticking out her tongue -- and wishing you had bronchitis so you could disrupt the performance? That I find absolutely appalling.

    1. Wow. Thank you for your judgement on me and my child. For the record my first grader is not RUDE and The Grinch didn't see her stick out her tongue. Only I did. And yes it was cute. Second, my comment about bronchitis was not appalling - it's called sarcasm. Perhaps you are incapable of understanding sarcasm. And my child was not disrupting anyone - which was the entire purpose of this post - she was whispering to me. The fact that Mr. Grinch clearly disliked everyone around him must have also been lost on you in your quick jump to judgement that I'm an appalling parent with a rude child.

  2. Lol drama!! I think it was cute that she stuck out her tongue at the guy. Innocent and age appropriate!
    Traci keep on being you. Mr Grinch will be bitter and eat coal. Songbird she was being a kid something that gets lost in many adults.

    1. Thank you Hillery! You know I'm going to just keep on being me....I have no other choice :)

  3. As the mother of three sons, I have made it a point to drag my boys to as many age-appropriate stage performances as possible. It's not fair (though hopelessly adorable and very important) that they want to emulate their father and do everything he does. Therefore, I dress 'em up and drag 'em to the theater! I have had my fair share of cross looks and irritated huffing at such venues. I am undaunted. Raising children is all about picking your battles, but one I'll never fight is telling my child, at any time, NOT to ask me a question if he has one. Certainly I won't let him chatter away during a performance, and a well placed, "Let's wait and see," usually answers most questions. It's vexing that someone at a weekend matinee would not assume children would be there, full of wonder and questions. But, I am often vexed by people, so I've learned to let it go. How sad that The Grinch and his family are so weighed down with negativity that they want to watch the Nutcracker surrounded by people they've willingly (gleefully?) offended and affronted. And to think that after being treated so rudely, you had to be the bigger person and not tell old greenie off. Wouldn't have mattered anyway, I bet. More telling: the people around you who didn't mind at all that your daughter was whispering, because they had children with them too. Here's hoping the beauty and wonder of the season, which is so much more beautiful when we experience it with children, continues unabated despite that great, green speed bump. Hugs.

    1. Thank you so much for this comment. That was my entire point - this person was trying to stifle the wonder of these kids. It makes me crazy that people aren't understand that. Wishing you a wonderful holiday season and happy new year :)

  4. Wow. You took delight in your child sticking out her tongue. You encouraged a child to talk through a performance. The fact that the usher monitored behavior during the second half confirms they expect all patrons to be considerate of others. If your child can not follow the performance without continual explanation she shouldn't be in attendance.

    1. Wow.

      And clearly you fail to understand the concept of sarcasm too. Yes, I found it amusing that my kid ACTED LIKE A KID.

      Your children must be PERFECT. How fantastic for you.

      And this was A SHOW FOR KIDS. Every child in attendance was talking but apparently that point is LOST ON YOU.

      My daughter was WHISPERING TO ME. And I was NOT going to stifle her questions. I didn't encourage her to TALK THROUGH A PERFORMANCE. What I did do was answer her WHISPERED questions in a whispered voice.

      I sure hope you and the other uber judgmental people of the world have a magical holiday season.

  5. Traci I love you but I fear that some of your audience may lack the ability to understand sarcasm and lack a sense of humor. I love your kid BTW and she had every right to stick her tongue out at the mean man. Oh and my bf wanted you to know that he would have told the grinch to STFU. :)

    1. Dana - Love you sweetie! I am convinced that these people don't understand sarcasm and they seriously lack a sense of humor. I thought I behaved rather well considering I didn't tell the guy to STFU. :)

  6. Dude she took her to the frickin' nutcracker. Not La Bohemme, not Swan Lake, but the NUTCRACKER. The nutcracker has been perceived as a kids show for a long time now. I've been a house manager a theatre for many shows and you expect "calm and decorum" during King Lear and for all the adult patrons to be considerate of each other. But for kids plays we always abided by one rule: The place is full of kids and kids are going to be kids. So yeah I'm glad that she stuck her tongue out at that man. As an usher I would have asked the man to leave because he was ruining the show for the children present. Love you Traci! Great blog.