Saturday, November 10, 2007

Celebrating the Harvest

On Thursday, Lea and Carter were invited to watch Thomas' preschool class perform. Ordinarily that would be something anyone, other than possibly (and only possibly) the parents of the performers would want to attend. But with cold, rainy weather preventing outdoor adventures, Erik's need for some quiet to work, and some morbid curiosity about what a preschool play in the former Soviet Union would look like, we were off on the trolleybus to watch. Lea and Carter arrived at a two-story building a couple of blocks from the large food market near the train station. Immediately across from the door was an auditorium. This looked like an auditorium found in any cultural center in any former communist country. In front of the room was a long row of 3- and 4-year-olds dressed as various parts of the harvest - a cucumber, a pumpkin (Thomas), a potato, a sunflower (that boy looked thrilled), and as in the US, the costumes varied in quality based on the amount of work put in by the parents. They were singing some song in Ukrainian. Then, one by one, the children stood up and read a memorized poem about their vegetable/fruit/other harvest item, with a woman in front of them mouthing the words and occasionally saying the words for them. One could imagine that not long ago, those poems would have included some words about Lenin. Meanwhile, two women ensured that the other children sat quietly. After each handful of poems, there were breaks for songs or dances including a dance around a teacher who held an umbrella. Toward the end, there was a huge dance production starring Thomas as a rooster followed by the chicken dance. Yes, that chicken dance. The rest of the poems followed. Meanwhile, the parents clustered in the front rows of the audience, as the chairs had been pushed back so the last few rows were unusable. Parents and grandparents snapped photos of the children and held large bunches of flowers to give to the performers and their teachers. They clapped thunderously for the children after every poem. This seemed to be the part that Carter enjoyed the most, clapping with everyone. It was a humorous preview of preschool plays in our near future.

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