Monday, December 28, 2009

Either Or

We bought the tickets several weeks ago. I was pleased that I was able to purchase the seats on line as the Opera House has an interactive website that includes seats for people with disabilities. Typically, I have to make a phone call, wait for hours for an operator and then choose seats with assistance. Booking an accessible seat, on line like everyone else, is just another little bit of freedom, another way of making me gloriously anonymous, and I appreciate it fully.

Anyways, we have the tickets to the Nutcracker in hand and will be going to the afternoon performance. Mike, Marissa, Sadie and Ruby all arrived yesterday in the early evening turning our house into pandemonium instantly. We had made a huge lasagna which had just come out of the oven, there were the final Christmas stockings to be dealt with and they had brought a DVD to watch together, the evening had some structure in the chaos of children's laughter and children's needs.

At one point in the evening Joe asked me to find a bit of the Nutcracker on YouTube so that Ruby would know where it was we were going tomorrow. As I looked this sparked a debate. Some felt it would be better to surprise Ruby with the treat of going to the ballet. Others felt it's way better to know and have the joy of anticipation. Our choice was made for us because Ruby had heard Joe and was already over to see the computer screen so it would have been mean to change horses midstream.

As she hopped up and got herself comfortable I picked a segment where there are ballerinas all over the stage strutting their ballerina stuff. Ruby's eyes grew wide and asked if we were going to see all the Cinderella's tomorrow. I said that we were and she was well pleased with the idea. She went to bed with a real excitement of the day to come.

While there was no real strife about it here, it become clear that there are two very different views of planning something special, the 'surprise' perspective and the 'anticipation perspective'. I'm really curious as to how other people see these things. Me, I'm an anticipator, I pointed out that I've had the pleasure of looking forward to the ballet for several weeks, imagining Ruby's joy at seeing the spectacle has given me pleasure. Others have imagined Ruby's surprise at turning up at the Opera house and having the ballet start.

So where are you on the spectrum? Are you a 'surprise' person or an 'anticipation' person ... or are there other points of view. In this little slow down between the holidays, a bit of conversation would be nice!


Anonymous said...

Carly Simon
We can never know about the days to come
But we think about them anyway.
And I wonder if I'm really with you now
Or just chasing after some finer day.

Anticipation. Anticipation
Is making me late
Is keeping me waiting.

And I tell you how easy it feel to be with you.
And how right your arms feel around me.
But I rehearsed those words just late last night
When I was thinking about how right tonight might be.

Anticipation. Anticipation
Is making me late
Is keeping me waiting.

And tomorrow we might not be together.
I'm no prophet; I don't know nature's ways.
So I'll try and see into your eyes right now.
And stay right here, 'cause these are the good old days.

I vote... anticipation...delayed gratification is hard, especially in today's "want it now" society, but it always tastes so much sweeter when you can look forward to and savor the reactions of an event.

Belinda said...

Anticipation is part of the wonder. And then the happy memory...

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

My husband and I have the same issue. He grew up without presents under the tree until Christmas morning. I grew up with some presents slowly appearing every few days or so. I think the days and even weeks spent imagining what could be is way better then a "wow, look at all those presents moment." Our oldest is now 6 and this is the first year I put some under the tree early. Every morning for a week before Christmas she would get up and look under the tree to see if there was anything new. When I finally put a few of hers under there it was no time before she spotted them. To hear her trying to decide which one to open first was priceless. I remember doing the same as a child. Giving each a little shake, feeling how heavy they were. I could see her taking it all in. The anticipation changed those few gifts into something better then they were.

Heather said...

Neither one really works for me...I can't wait...I find it almost unbearable to wonder and anticipate. Presents under the tree; the unfolding story in a tense movie; the ending of an enthralling book...all of these make me tense and anxious and once I KNOW what's going to happen then I can relax and enjoy the experience but the anticipation almost makes me ill.
In the same way, I get very anxious about surprises...mostly out of fear that my reaction will not, in some way, be the 'right' one...will I swear/cry/lose my temper/not be pleased enough? Wht if I don't like it...will I be able to sort my face out so that I don't hurt or disappoint any others involved...
Oh dear...what a question...

Anonymous said...

For myself, sometimes I like surprises and sometimes I prefer anticipation. And sometimes anticipation results in disappointment (you know, when I've blown the anticipated event up into a stupendous impossible dream).

For others, though ... I always have to ask "what's in it for you to want to 'surprise' the child?" Too often I've heard essentially self-serving reasons: "I want to enjoy the look on his face" or whatever. But if you recall some of the videos of kids being seriously surprised, even by good things ... I'm not sure the 'shock to the system' aspect is being thought about enough.

Sometimes being able to plan ahead gives the child a chance to keep his balance when the event arrives.

--just my 22 cents (allowing for inflation)

Anonymous said...

I like anticipation as long as I don't have to wait tooo long. A few weeks is great, 6 months is way to long!


Kristin said...

I love the anticipation of surprising someone with something wonderful. I also love the pure pleasure of being surprised. So, I guess that means I'm right in the middle. I think what is important to me is the thought, care, and love that goes into doing something fabulous for or with a loved one.

J. said...

Anticipation all the way for me. I don't like surprises very much and often the 'event' (whatever it is) is less enjoyable to me than looking forward to it has been. That said, with my children I find that surprises are much better handled by them that anticipation is!

Anonymous said...

While I enjoy the little surprises in life: an unexpected phone call from a friend, a special gift on holiday and unholiday alike, a dinner out at a familiar restaurant; I intensely dislike the loss of control related to big unexpected surprises. (I would much rather my sweetie tell me she is taking me on a trip to an unfamiliar destination weeks in advance as the anxiety associated with knowing say 1 day ahead would ruin the whole thing for me.)

But that's just me.

When considering whether to allow for anticipation or surprise someone else I generally go with what I know about them and what they would like.

As for kids. I guess we have to watch and learn what works for them. I once surprised a 3 year old cousin with a her first movie at the theater. She was so surprised and excited she had a urinary accident. Thank goodness I always took a change of evertying she might need with me in the car or the whole thing would have been a messy wreck!

Sounds like Ruby was very happy to anticipate all those Cinderella's!

Hope it was a blast!

Anonymous said...

Anticipation! I have NEVER understood those who says "Don't count your chickens before they are hatched"
Why the heck NOT? Counting chickens is way way fun. And I can assure you, I am not LESS disappointed if it doesn't work out, for the lack of counting.

YAY Looking forward!
YAY Surprises too
and always always count those chickens

Anonymous said...

Definitely the anticipation and planning make the experience. When I take my young friends out for an adventure (ages 7 & 10) we always spend time planning and anticipating. I first give them an outline of what we'll be doing about two weeks out and we do some initial online research. Then I phone them to let them know that I have the tickets in hand. Two or three days before the adventure we go online and check it out again. Then the night before the adventure I stay at there house so we can discuss our plans and giggle and drink hot chocolate. I love these times and look forward to looking forward with them.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Given what happened at the Ballet today, I can say definitively that I don't like surprises. Stay tuned to tomorrows post for the whole, ugly, story.

Gone Fishing said...

We have friends, amazingly enough we have some, who are at the stage where like us they need help with certain tasks, so with held our Christmas Presents, which they told us before Christmas we have waiting, until we go and give them a hand, a two edged sword methinks

Anonymous said...

To me, it is a completely individual thing. As a person, individually I am all for the anticipation. But I am learning, as a parent of a 3 year old, that surprise is a good thing!!! It all depends on the individual person and where they are at in their lives!!! Some deal well with anticipation and some deal well with surprise. How middle of the fence am I!!!!

Andrea S. said...

I agree with "anonymous" who likes "little" surprises but not the big, unexpected surprises. I think it makes a difference what type of surprise you are planning for them (big versus small, familiar versus unfamiliar). If the surprise will be really big (a multi-day trip), or if it will involve an unfamiliar experience for them (a young child's first ballet), then I think it's better to prepare them so they have some idea what to expect.

I should mention that as a deaf person, I have had my own share of unintended "surprises," when people didn't stop and realize that I didn't already know what was going on because, no, I couldn't overhear everyone else talking non-stop about what was coming up. For that reason, I tend to associate many types of surprises with intense unpleasantness, particularly surprises that come about as a consequence of other people failing to consider or plan for my communication accessibility needs. For a long time as a child, my dislike of surprises spilled over into other types of surprises too, to the point where I would become upset if people withheld information from me deliberately even with good intentions. So that may color my reaction to the "surprise versus anticipation" question.

Shan said...

Reading this now, after reading your next post first, is breaking my effing heart.