This post is dedicated to all the children’s entertainers out there.
Went to a 1 year old birthday party yesterday. It was a large family affair with many many children of mixed ages attending. As seems to be the thing these days, there was entertainment for the children. As they all gathered at the small table with far too much junk food and soft drinks (after all, it IS a party, let em live it up!) a clown entered, stage right. He seemed like the average sort of clown, struggling to keep the children of quite a varied age range entertained. My Mr5 was right in there, I would hazard a guess that 5 is probably an optimum age for clown entertainment. Mr2 was not so interested, preferring instead to chow down on copious amounts of salty snacks and then wash it down with equally copious amounts of soft drink. (Pop or Soda for the North American readers amongst us)
The show started off predictably, a few slapstick jokes which amused the younger ones, at which the slightly older ones (10 and up) pretended they were too cool for. In fact, for most (if not all) of the attendants there (parents and children alike) the show was not unlike any other they had probably seen. What really got me was when Mr5 was asked to be a volunteer. He bounded up with all the enthusiasm that a 5 year old has, and one of his cousins (Ms3) was also involved as the other volunteer. The clown then handed Mr5 a pink balloon and Ms3 a blue balloon. He made a big deal of the fact that Mr5 should have the pink balloon and Ms3 should have the blue one… almost as if he was waiting for a rise out of the children. Then he got it, Mr5 protested loudly about having a pink balloon and Ms3, who I don’t think really understood any of it, dutifully gave swapped her balloon with him.
While I freely admit that I am disappointed in my Mr5. I’ve tried hard to teach him that things that shouldn’t be gendered aren’t. We don’t make a big deal about pink or blue at home, but I must say, it is easier to sidestep a lot of issues when you have two boys and no girls in the household. (Mom’s don’t count for the wee men) I also understand that perhaps at 5 the lesson hasn’t really sunk in.
I would like to also say that I was a tad bit disappointed in the clown’s act. After all, there was no need to have add the gendered dimension to the show, there were children of all ages and both genders there.
I wish I could say that I’m being over-sensitive and that was the end of that, but the theme continued, in about 5 minutes, he invited “5 big strong men” to see if they could blow up the long balloons, and there were many jokes made at their expense when they couldn’t – to give him credit, when a mother in the audience blew up a balloon, he did give her kudos from the stage. The incredibly sad thing that happened at this stage was that after the 5 men were given their balloons, it was meant to be a lesson in balloon animals. As they predictably struggled to follow his instructions, a quiet contemplative Ms10 had followed his instructions from the back of the room and had created a perfect balloon dog even before the men had gotten there. There was no acknowledgement of this girl from the stage.
I guess I’ll end my rant there. These things do happen, and I hope by the time Mr5 has little boys or girls of his own, they will happen less.