Monday, January 23, 2012

Toddler Trauma

I inadvertently traumatized my daughter the other day.

She has taken to the Muppets with a vengeance.  I could not be much less pleased by this.  I recall fondly being put in front of the television to watch the first episode when it first aired (what the first episode was is a complex question that I am not going to get into here, but where I lived it was the Rita Moreno episode).

The last episode of that first, most ecclectic, season stands out as one of the biggest oddball episodes of the show (a list which includes episodes featuring the cast of Star Wars, Wally Boag. Chris Langham, Johnny Cash and Steve Martin - each unusual in their own way) due to the guest stars being the mime group Mummenshanz.

December watched the episode as faithfully as any episode and when the final act came on she did something she only did sporadically... she laughed.  Numerous times.

She delighted in the malleable faces, laughing whenever the plasticine was re-manipulated into something new.

But then at the end when the two performers head-butt each other she quit laughing in mid-chuckle... and then when they pulled their faces apart, stretching the plasticine into an amorphous blob between them she burst into tears - of horror.

She spent the next half hour gingerly touching her own face with a look of worry.  Gradually I calmed her down and confinced her that we could touch cheeks and all would be well, but - whew my goodness - I haven't seen her upset in that manner ever.  She has cried harder (indeed she is doing so right now as I write this - her Mom is putting her to bed and she's been a little sick so she's grumpy) but never of the quality that Mummenshanz evoked.

I don't know that if I had recalled where that act was headed that I would have even thought that she might be frightened by it.  I suppose we all need to inch toward an understanding of the grotesque and of fantasy, and inevitably along the way our sensibilities are going to be challenged.  But that doesn't change the fact that I feel a tad guilty about negligently subjecting her to it - even in such a relatively innocent form.

I guess these are just the yolks of parenthood that don't normally get mentioned.