Monday, March 23, 2009


Last night after watching “It’s The Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown” I tried a little experiment.  I put in a movie without telling the kids what it was.  Naturally they freaked out (in the good way), very excited about the surprise movie.  Well when I told them it was a Shakespeare movie they went bananas.  I’d put in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the version with Kevin Kline.  I’ve not seen it, but I did find a copy recently and thought I’d add it to my collection.

The kids asked what the story was about as the opening credits rolled.  “Well,” I said, “This one girl is in love with this boy, but her daddy does not want her to marry that boy, he wants her to marry the boy that he likes.”  This is logic that toddlers understand, it is almost directly out of Aladdin and other “princess must marry a prince” stories.

“Then what happens?” they ask.

“Well the girl and the boy that she does want to marry, they run off into the woods to get married without telling anybody.  But the other boy finds out, so he chases after them into the woods.  And then you know what?  A girl that likes *him* goes into the woods after him, too, because she wants to marry him.”

Well, this is just thrilling to them.  “You know what happens then?” I ask.

“What?” they are intrigued.

“That’s when they meet the Fairies.”

Then you get one of those moments where  you’re convinced your child is going to explode, like when you tell them you’ve purchased their own private ice cream truck and it’s parked outside in the driveway right now, go help yourself.

Of course it is far too late to start a full length movie at this point, so being the cruel and heartless Daddy that I am, we pause the movie (which is right at the “ask the ancient penalty” line) until tomorrow.


Fast forward to today when I come home for lunch.  A neighbor is over having a playdate.  My 4yr old daughter delivers a flying powerhug, and then looks up at me with big eyes and says, “Please Daddy, PLEASE can we finished Midsummer Night’s Dream tonight?”

I explode a little inside, myself.  “Say that again?”

“Can we please watch the rest of Midsummer Night’s Dream?” she repeats.

“I love hearing that,” I say out loud.

“I was about to ask if I heard right,” says the neighbor.

At this point my daughter runs over to her to explain the movie. “It’s about these boys and girls who run into the forest to get married…and then guess what?  They meet Fairies.”


All day long I watch a Twitterstream go by with students whining about how much they hate boring Shakespeare.  Me, I’ve got a child who hasn’t started kindergarten (and one in first grade, equally enthusiastic) who are begging me for more.

I win :).

I’m having a good week.  First my wife spots a Lear reference, and now my kids are explaining Dream to the neighbors?  Who wants to trade places with me?  Ha!  You can’t!  Wouldn’t trade this for the world.


Sophie said...

It's such a joy to read about your kids being introduced to Shakespeare like this. It must be thrilling for you!

Anonymous said...

The only right way to introduce children to Shakespeare is through performance, not through a dry often incomprehensible text in a class room.