Early Childhood Puppet Show
Last Friday, Early Childhood parents and children gathered around a fire pit with warmed apple cider. As the sun set the Nursery and Kindergarten teachers led their students to the Hinoki Theater for a puppet show. I tried during the procession to see the world through the eyes of a child. I felt the safety and security of being surrounded by my peers and teachers. At the same time, I felt a sense of wonder as the light of the stars and the lanterns led us over mysteriously dark earth. I remember having all these feelings during the Greek cultural and liturgical rituals I participated in as a child.
During the puppet show I tried to maintain the feeling of childlike wonder. I marveled at the fluid movement of the puppet child. I imbibed the sense that there is something important the earth has to offer us, if only we have the courage to go on a journey. I felt comforted by the tone of Robin Olson’s voice and the chimes she rang as she read the English story.
Andrea Eichinger-Wiese explains better than I can: “Giving the children these archetypal images of caring, giving, receiving, and journeying is nourishment for life” (in the photo Andrea holds the strings of the daughter).
My college religion professor once told me something that one of his professors long ago had told him (so this bit of wisdom originates sometime before the administration of Theodore Roosevelt). “Once you wise up,” the old professor said, “you can’t wise down.” I finally couldn’t maintain a child’s mental stance, and as I left the lantern walk I tried to analyze the fairy tale. Many years ago I taught a course on fairy tales. We looked into Freudian, Jungian, and feminist interpretations, how tales with heroes differed from those with heroines, how tales from England, Russia, Italy, and other countries took on historical context, the difference between tales from oral folk memory and those from modern authors. And I tried to imagine the ways in which the grades and high school curricula would enrich the experience of the children processing from the theater. But that’s a story for another day. For my time at the puppet show, I was grateful for the Nursery and Kindergarten teachers for what they bring to the children, and for how they transported me back to childhood for a while.