Friday, February 03, 2006

Where's the Lion Dance?

"Where's the Lion Dance, mommy?" The boy has asked me this question at least once every day since last Saturday.

You see, last Sunday was the Chinese New Year, but the Chinese restaurant that Grammy and PaPa eat at every day (and the place where we always go) had their celebration one day early and anyone who made a reservation to eat lunch there last Saturday was priviledged to watch a "Lion Dance" right there in the restaurant. We decided we would join Grammy and PaPa for the festivities.

We were a little skeptical as to how the kids might react to this display, but thought that if it got too bad, we could always leave the restaurant and go next door to the bookstore to escape. Well, since Grammy and PaPa are such loyal customers, we were assigned the front row seat and once they got set up for the dance, which included 6 different "lions", it was clear there would be no easy escape.

However, feeling sure that we had tried to prepare the kids as best we could by telling them about it and that it would be really loud, we settled in to watch. As they were setting up the "lions", both the kids seemed interested in looking at them. They were very ornate and really quite nice. I was impressed. Soon, they were ready to take their places - two people per lion - and start the dance.

Nothing could have prepared us for the amount of sheer horror and terror displayed by both our children. I was holding baby girl, trying to keep her away from the lions and trying to make her feel secure, but as soon as they brought the costume up and gave it life (which, in the kids' defense was really quite surprising and amazing - I marveled over it for almost a full second before the screaming began), her whole body began shaking - almost convulsing - and she started screaming and crying and trying to get away from those things. Apparently, it had a very similar effect on the boy. After only a few moments, it was obvious that I needed to get the girl away from the dancers as quickly as I possibly could.

Luckily, I was able to make my way over to the bar area of the restaurant, putting about 25 feet between us and the dancers. It seemed to be enough to get her calmed down after a couple of minutes and we watched the rest of the dance from afar. It lasted quite awhile - I'd say at least 10 minutes.

When it got close to the end of the dance, I looked up to see my husband and the boy emerging from the kitchen. They had ended up going down the hallway towards the bathrooms, where the employees of the restaurant took pity on them and brought them into the kitchen, giving the boy several fortune cookies while they were there.

By the time they emerged from the kitchen, the boy was still sobbing and was still very afraid of the lions. He continued to cry for about two minutes after they stopped, even. He was a mess. Oddly enough, most of the other children in the restaurant actually loved the dance. They even fed the lions some red envelopes.

Anyway, once they finally finished and took the costumes away, we returned to the table, but the boy wouldn't let go of me. He sat on my lap for the rest of the time we were there, whimpering.

I did my best to console him and tell him that everything was OK. I told him it was OK to be scared and that we'd just have to hold onto each other when we're scared. And be scared together. Somehow this made things better.

Now every day, he asks us, "Where's the Lion Dance?"
"They went home."
"Oh..... (long pause) I cried a lot. Daddy took care of me. I got too many fortune cookies. We'll be scared together."

It made quite an impression.

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