"I will not take my son to a children's show again!"
This is the mantra I say to myself each time on the way home from the theatre after escorting my son to a performance. Obviously, I have repeated the same mistake several times.
I hate performances for kids because either the show is a disaster, or the theatre experience is.
Chinese children's show creators either underestimate their audience's intelligence, telling silly stories that even a 5-year-old kid will think is stupid, or go completely over their heads, trying to give a big moral lesson.
Once a colleague offered me two tickets to a so-called children's musical. Her daughter and my son are good friends. Looking at their sincere eyes, I did not know how to say no and had to "sacrifice" my son. I let my son go with them. I went to see Johnny Depp's Transcendence.
Later my colleague told me that the two kids were fidgeting throughout the show. The other boy they invited to the show played on his tablet computer the whole time. It was not an enjoyable experience.
The 9-year-old girl said it was a "bad and stupid" copycat of Cats, which they've watched at school on video.
Thank God, it did not take much time for my son to become 1.2 meters tall, so that he is permitted to enter a formal theatre.
I recently took him to a show on a weekend. It was a black-light performance by the Lightwire Theater from the United States - not a typical children's show. But I had forgotten the significance of the date - it was International Children's Day.
I realised my mistake as soon as I arrived in the lobby of the National Center for the Performing Arts. Thousands of kids were running everywhere, shouting and yelling with ice cream in hand. The elegant and spacious arts venue was completely turned into a playground.
I grabbed my son to fight our way into the theatre, only to find another chaotic scene, despite the ushers telling every parent to make their kid "as quiet as possible".
I sat down, watching some of the ushers chasing the kids climbing the stage and others busy stopping them from drinking inside the theatre. The broadcast welcoming them and telling the parents to take care of their excited kids was repeated over the speakers.
I desperately hoped the show would start soon.