You Better Not Shout. You Better Not Cry. / by Susie Lubell

The annual preschool holiday pageant is coming up and I'm torn whether to go or not. She's torn? What an awful mom! Who wouldn't want to see their kids dressed up like reindeer?! Let me explain. I'm dying to go. I went the first year, when my son was two. I sent him to school dressed in a white sweatshirt and black pants as instructed. When I came back later to watch the production I spied him grinning and wearing a top hat with giant black buttons on his belly. My little Frosty the Snowman. I should have taken the shot right then. But no, instead I waved, "Hi sweetie!" That was it. He started bawling. The show is starting and all of the other two year-olds are marching on stage singing Frosty the Snowman (or at least standing there, holding hands and swaying.) My son is shrieking like a mermaid. I scoop him up. So much for the pageant picture. Maybe next year.

Last year we avoided the agony altogether by taking a vacation. We left before winter break started so I missed the opportunity to watch my son prance around like Rudolph. Or rather sob and throw a tantrum the minute he saw me.

So this year, I'm in a quandary. Should I go? He's been singing Santa Claus is Coming to Town for the last month and waving his finger around. (Sing it with me now: you better not shout, you better not cry…) If only that was a sure thing—no shouting and no crying. Maybe now that he's four he'll be able to hold his ground in front of the parent paparazzi. I don't blame him. We're like a sea of smiling, nodding, best-intentioned crazy people. I'm sure it's intimidating. All I want is for him to enjoy himself. Who am I kidding? All I want is for him not to be that kid. There's always one in the lot. The one that's not singing. The one that's crying or sitting down or has fingers up both nostrils. It's usually my kid. Well, que sera sera. All I can do is send him in his red shirt and hope for the best.