When I was a kid my dad made mix tapes of kids songs that we listened to in the car. We listened to them over and over and sang along at the top of our lungs. We listened to them until the ribbon in the tape wore out and the sound was so warped so we had to learn to sing along in a different tempo and octave.
When I was pregnant with Leo, my father went to library, checked out several dozen children's CDs and made Leo (then still unnamed) several mix CDs that he gave us for Christmas. These mixes included many of the songs I listened to in the car with him in my youth as well as some new favorites.
Leo has listened to these mixes sporadically since infancy, but recently he has become enamored of them. Each time we get in the car he asks, "Can we listen to the mixes Grandpa made for me?" and I am now familiar with the special kind of torture parents endure when a child wants the same cd over and over and over… (We drive from Philly to Pittsburgh and back again often.)
He especially loves the songs from Disney movies (as I did) and is intent on learning all the words. His favorites by far are the Lion King songs. This love of the music led to him watching the movie – it was in fact, the first movie he ever watched. Now he's seen it a few times (which is a lot, because we don't often watch movies). It's not the only movie he's seen, but it's only movie he's asked to see more than once. It's also the first movie that he has picked apart scene by scene. He's trying to piece together the plot and absorb all these new vocabulary words ("monarchy," "Swahili," "harmony" and "phrase" are some notable new words). His questions about the events in the movie have spurred many conversations about death, choices, the food chain . . . the circle of life, if you will. This movie has been a major part of our family dialogue this year.
Because of his seemingly endless fascination with all things Lion King, jb and I had considered taking him to NY to see the musical on Broadway. Perhaps as a Christmas present? As we added up the cost – train, tickets (which apparently are never available at those discount kiosks), meals and possibly hotel – we realized that it probably was not in our budget.
When I saw that the Lion King was going to be in Pittsburgh I thought maybe we could swing it. It would still be a stretch, but we could fold it in to a trip visiting family and maybe find some discounted tickets. It would be perfect for his first formal theater experience to be something that he was already so intimately familiar with. Even so, the tickets are expensive and our budget doesn't have a ton of wiggle room. So I put a call out on Facebook: Did anyone know of a way to get a deal on tickets? I wasn't sure what I was hoping for exactly, I just put it out there in the universe to see what happened.
That very night, a longtime neighbor and friend came by to hang out with the kids (who positively adore her) and she said she had a surprise for us. It turns out her family has season tickets to the theater hosting The Lion King and they offered to give us the tickets they have for the show.
I was speechless – and perhaps a little teary. How very generous – and how perfectly awesome for Leo. We haven't told Leo about the show yet (Because have you ever told a 3-year-old about something exciting more than a couple days in advance? It results in a never-ending barrage of questions), but I know he will be ecstatic. I remember the first time I saw a musical – it was magical. I don't think he will fully grasp what a big deal this first major show is until a few years down the line, but I'm so so so excited to share this with him – and I'm so grateful for the kindness of our family friends who are helping make it happen.
Sandra Telep is a West Philadelphia mom of two. This post is adapted from her blog, West Philly Mama.