Taking the stress out of your child's annual celebrations!

Yesterday was a very special day. In my previous post I shared with you my granddaughter’s very special second birthday moment.

But what was I doing earlier on in the day?

Well, I was helping a very lovely client find closure for her daughter through the power and play of puppets.

Like a few of my clients, this lovely lady and her family had decided to uproot and move her family to Switzerland. She had called me and asked me to perform a puppet show for a goodbye party where her daughter had the opportunity to say goodbye to her school friends and have fun at the same time. Could I perhaps include references to saying Goodbye in my show?

I considered it for a brief second and my answer was ‘of course!’

With my 20 years of working with children as a children’s entertainer, I’ve encountered many a child who has trouble with saying goodbye. Goodbye  is hard for the adults, so why shouldn’t we expect children to be upset at the prospect of saying farewell?

I’ve had my fair share of tears after a puppet show where children have burst into tears the minute a puppet show has ended .

The reason? They didn’t want me to go, they didn’t want the fun to end and most importantly, they didn’t want to say goodbye.

My own way of dealing with this outburst is to gently reassure the distressed child that you have to say goodbye otherwise you can’t say hello another time, and hello is the most wonderful, exciting thing to say!

Ending with a ‘ See you later Alligator , in a while Crocodile , (Bye Bye Apple Pie!) ( Fifi the Fairy’s own invention) is a sure fire way of using the power of silly to put the smile back on those tear stained faces too.

Snap! Snap!

So I tootled off to Belsize Park yesterday and set up my puppet theatre outside in the very welcome sunshine. ( It made a brief appearance yesterday, we just had to make the most of it before it rains again).

Bobby Bunny was sad that  Tabitha cat was going to Australia and had lost his will to hop. The children were encouraging him to hop and have fun and reassured him that Tabitha would still be his friend even though she was going to Australia.

In between the silly behind-you’s and the silly slapstick humour and chases, I inserted lots of chat and references about using Mummy and Daddy’s  Internet to keep in touch and spoke about having friends to visit. Rather than focusing on the leaving aspect, I stressed the new adventures ahead. Tabitha cat was excited to be going, it was her friend that was sad. This allowed the little girl in question to be able to chat to the rabbit about her leaving in a safe and reassuring way; indeed it was a little bit of a therapy session without anyone even knowing it! Lots of hugs were given to the girl in question from the puppets and she said goodbye with a smile on her face- which was painted just like my lovely puppy puppet Toby

Traditional Toby dog to start the show

So bye bye lovely Taya, we will miss you here at Diane’s Puppets. Don’t forget to send us a postcard from Zurich ( some chocolate would be nice too! ) Only joking. Silly Sausage.

Let’s hope that fun and laughter and puppets have eased the pain of farewell.

The power of puppets never cease to amaze me.

 

Related posts:

The Power of Puppets for Change

Silly is a Serious Business

Puppets: An Emotional Connection

 

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Today was a very special day.

My Granddaughter turned 2.

Her favourite tv show in the world  is Luxury Comedy, well, Grandma is an artist so has alternative tastes It  is a strange world of comedy invented by Noel Fielding ( of Mighty Boosh fame) that is weird and colourful and quite bonkers. Despite the odd rude word (which we overlook) it quite captured my little granddaughters imagination. She calls it Boom Boom ( referring to the theme tune).

This is why my ‘birthday card’ to my granddaughter consisted of two paintings of two of the crazy characters from Luxury Comedy. They’re two of Erykah’s favourites:

                                                                                          Fantasy Man

and The Audience ( Fish Finger for later) .

Whilst not strictly conventional fayre for most 2 year olds, my Granddaughter absolutely LOVED these. I should have taken pictures of her reaction upon opening them… but I was enjoying the moment too much. Suffice it to say, after hanging the two pictures in her brand new big girl bedroom ( she has just moved house ) she kept excitedly pulling me by the hand to show me her new paintings when I went to visit.

 

I went over with a small stack of gifts ( mainly books) for her. I’m a terrible present wrapper. This time however, I think I managed something quite inspired . They say necessity is the mother of invention and I needed something to top my stack of gifts . I had a bunch of hair elastics that I had squirreled away for  a rainy day and these made a really sweet ( and ultimately useful) bow topping. See what you think.

A stack of gifts topped with hair elastics.

pretty and practical

When I got to my granddaughters new house , she was fast asleep. She looked like Sleeping Beauty, butter wouldn’t melt. It’s great isn’t it how we forget the tantrums when they’re sleeping?

She’s so beautiful, it almost takes my breath away.

 

I woke her up and we went to sing happy birthday with her cake. It’s one of two, as I was so busy recently, I cheated and bought one from the supermarket and I intend to make a very special one tomorrow that we can all enjoy .

I’ll let the pictures tell the story:

I’m two. Two candles on my cake.

Blow….

Blow, not spit!

Fffffffffffffff phhhhhphhhhhhhhhffffffffffffff

Yeyy! They’re out. Check out the smoke.

Yum. I’m a big girl now so I’ll do it by myself thank you.

 

Because Grandma was so busy on this special day, we’re going to celebrate tomorrow as well. We’re off to the Rainforest Cafe for a very special dinner tomorrow with Aunty Imogen, Mummy, Aunty Riri and Maa and Dandaa.

 

Sigh.

I love being Maa.

 

 

 

 

 

I Love My Job

“I love my job!”

 

How many times do you hear people say that?

 

Not often, I can guarantee.

 

But I say it almost every time I go out to work.

 

Granted , in my 20 years of being a London Children’s Entertainer  there have been times where I have reminded myself of the fact that ‘This is why it is called work ( and not play) ” and I have put my nose to the metaphorical grindstone ( the alternative would be a bit ouchy!) and got on with the job of being an entertainer and puppeteer . Those few times have usually been when I was faced with difficult circumstances like noise ( usually the grown-ups on the sauce I’m afraid…no , not ketchup!) or just too much being thrown at the children all at once. I can’t stress enough times that with small children, just throwing money at the problem isn’t going to solve it. With small children , less is most often more. Give them a chance to focus and you will be amazed at how much they can focus.

But, I can count on the fingers of one hand all the times  I’ve not found work that fun. That isn’t bad going when I’ve been doing this puppeteering /entertainment lark for 20 years now.

 

Last weekend was no exception. I started off on the Friday at a birthday party for lovely Otto. He was turning three and I was so delighted to be returning to this family after 8 years. They had used my puppeteering and entertainment services all those years ago for their last child when he was three. Now the big brother was 11! It was wonderful to keep this 3rd birthday party tradition going and to witness the older brother joining in from the back, still giggling at the same jokes he had enjoyed all those years ago, now he was sharing in the fun with his little brother. It was touching indeed to be part of this celebration. I sometimes feel I have the privilege of entering children’s memories as that silly lady who made them laugh at their birthday. What a wonderful position to be in.

So that was Friday.

Saturday I was up bright and early and off to a morning party for the lovely Victoria. She was turning 4 . We had a blast, Victoria especially loved my puppet Fifi the Fairy.

Fairy puppet Fifi

Fifi eating her wand

Fifi gave out hugs and kisses at the end.

The lovely Victoria hugging Fifi ( identity protected)

Victoria and Diane after the party

He’s behind you!

So Victoria waved goodbye to Fifi and went off home to open all her presents. I jumped into my waiting cab and zoomed off to my next party.

Uma was turning 5 , we had a wonderful time, again with Fifi the fairy  as we told the story of how Fifi turned her teacher into a Birthday Witch whilst trying to make a Birthday Wish… ( see what I did there?)

Witchy Poo Poo was a great hit.

Witchy Poo in all her witchy glory

Again I was mistaken for Rosie. Easy mistake to make I suppose.

spot the difference… it’s the glasses isn’t it?

I think Uma enjoyed her party, so much so that she burst into tears at the end of the show . She didn’t want it to end. But after a reassuring cuddle from Fifi the fairy,  I left a very happy Uma and went home to witness Chelsea winning the Champions League.

I thought nothing of it until the morning when I tried to book my cab to go to my Sunday morning in … Chelsea!

The controller calmly informed me that roads were being closed in Chelsea to prepare for the Champions League Victory Parade and that I wouldn’t be able to get through to my gig.

PANIC!

After a bit of begging and pleading and cajoling, ( and giving him the exact address) we worked out between us that it was the posh end of Chelsea that I was going to , not the football end. So we’d give it a go. I gave myself a good hour to get there to deal with any traffic and crossed fingers , toes , eyes, legs and arms.

As it turned out, there was no traffic at all! In fact the roads were much clearer than normal. Maybe people were staying away fearing congestion? Who knows. All I know is I got to the Christening party in such good time , I was happy I’d taken my crochet. ( I’m an avid crocheter as well as being a puppet lady. I make stuff based on rainbows and fairies. I’m just a big kid at heart)

Stuff I make.

Well that was a very lovely day at the ‘office’ . So many parents stayed to watch and they laughed at my jokes and cooed at the little ones playing Sleeping Bunnies with Bobby Bunny during the show. It is a joy to watch the parents faces when I’m behind my puppet theatre as they witness their kids having so much fun. Sometimes I see a tear or two. It’s touching.

Mummy came up to me at the end and said I was awesome  and that she’d never seen her son so engaged and enthralled.

Gosh.

*Blushes*.

Waving bye bye to the lovely children , I jumped into my waiting chariot ( cab) and  went forth to my next engagement.

Lucia was turning 3 and she was the very lucky girl who was going to have a puppet show in her very own bedroom! How exciting!

From my perspective, a little challenging, as the space was fairly limited and I was going to end up with a bunch of shy kids sitting really close to me and my puppets . I would have to work hard to engage their trust quickly otherwise I knew from experience that crying fever could sweep through that small space. ( Once one goes, the rest follow, I’ve found)

Well, I worked hard on my self deprecation. ( I’m a silly sausage, cheeky nunkey( sic) ) That always helps. My monkey calls me names and I don’t get cross. This seems to reassure little children that I’m an alright person pretty quickly. Plus it’s really silly and funny. If I can  make children laugh in the first two minutes then I’m happy that the rest of the party will be fine.

It worked. Mummy sent me a sweet thank you email afterwards saying that Lucia is still talking about the puppet show that happened in her room. Result!

 

So yes, I love my job.

The hours are great, the clients are wonderful, and the best thing of all is the job satisfaction. There’s nothing quite like the emotional connection that you get from children. When they like you, they REALLY like you.

Mind you, the flip side of that is that if they don’t like you, they walk away.

 

I better make sure I keep my standards up.

It’s a good life.

 

 

 

 

It’s Ma’am like spam

I’m  not much of a Royalist to be fair, but I do enjoy the pomp and circumstance that goes with the British Monarchy. As a very proud Londoner, I couldn’t imagine  not seeing the Horseguards with their big bearskins guarding St James’s palace, or witness the changing of the guard. I do enjoy a Royal Wedding too, I must admit.

So, this year we celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of our Queen. Whilst I am sick to the back teeth of all the Union Jack stuff everywhere, ( talk about overkill) I’m not going to be a total killjoy when it comes to the Jubilee celebrations. I’m going to be really busy this June 4th, with a street party plus a stint at a really lovely local pub that are putting on a mini beer festival and including a puppet show and facepainting. (that would be me).

Tiger Facepainting Diane's Puppets

Rarrrrrr!

London Children's Entertainer

Diane, the London Children’s Entertainer

Years ago, I’m talking probably 25 … I made a bunch of Marionettes. Here is my tribute to HRH, my puppet of the Queen.

Queen Marionette puppet

HRH waves at you

Queen puppet

One is having a lie down.

Does one like one’s crown?

Close up of Queen

One has very lovely clothes and shoes

Just to end this on a balanced note, here is my tribute to God Save the Queen ( and her fascist regime) I loved the Sex Pistols.

Portrait of a Punk Puppet, check out that bobble nose!

He looks so camp. I like that!

Check out the hairy armpit!

Both puppets are working marionettes, but need restringing and a control. They are old, so they have some wear and tear, but I think this adds to their character. They are both for sale and cost £60 each. Both characters stand a full 70 cm tall and feature hand carved wooden hands and feet and the heads are made from sewn and painted fabric.

A beautiful handmade puppet for you completely free!

Girl puppet

This is girl puppet, made by Diane . She needs a name and an owner.

Diane celebrates her 48th birthday on Wednesday  and to mark the occasion , she is giving away this pretty handmade girl puppet to one lucky Facebook liker . All you have to do to enter is head over to Diane’s Puppets on Facebook, like the page and share the birthday post on your personal page.

Diane will get her darling granddaughter to pick out the winner from a hat on the 9th of May. She will then notify the winner and post this lovely puppet to them for free.

Soon you will be able to see a step by step tutorial over on the Videojug channel of Diane making this very puppet. The title will be How to  make a Girl Puppet. As soon as it is uploaded , Diane will share the link with you all.

So who is going to give this lovely girl puppet a new home?

 

Is it you?

Kevin Clash and Elmo, 92YTribeca 8/18/11

Kevin Clash and Elmo, 92YTribeca 8/18/11 (Photo credit: 92YTribeca)

Being Elmo : an inspirational film

Last night I went to see the wonderful documentary Being Elmo at the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton. I had booked a ticket to go and see this film ( and Q & A session ) a week previously and I had been eagerly anticipating this event. I wasn’t to be disappointed.

I laughed, I connected emotionally with the puppeteer and star of the documentary Kevin Clash  and yes, I cried but not from sadness but from sheer joy.  It was a truly marvellous film.I wasn’t alone, the cinema was packed and everyone there was clearly feeling the love.

To witness a film respecting the silly, regarding the seriousness of the craft and paying tribute to the massively important role that puppets and a good puppeteer can play in imparting a basic human connection ( in Elmo’s case giving out hugs) was genuinely moving for me. So moving in fact, that when it came to the Q & A session with the wonderfully human and totally charming  director Constance Marks and her husband/ partner in crime and Cinematographer James Miller, I could barely get out my compliments without bursting into tears. In any other environment that would have been rather embarrassing but after viewing this very human movie, no-one was surprised at this reaction. In fact the director  related how they had received Twitter messages from Hells Angels who had confessed to ‘blubbing like a baby’ when viewing the film. So I clearly was not alone in my emotional outburst. Phew!

Here is the James Miller, the cinematographer talking about making the film:

Here is the trailer to the film. Go and see it. You won’t be disappointed. You may even cry, but in a good way!

So, yesterday all us folk in the UK were reliably informed that whoo hoo! we are back in recession . Yes folks, a whole year has gone by and zero growth. Whoop de do.

I sort of thought this was going to happen. But you know what they say about what happens when the going gets tough, don’t you?

The tough get going.

My very first Kidspartyheaven post was about the recession. Since then I’ve written loads more posts and I’m still partying despite the economy staying static.

Guess what? Life goes on, pennies are tight but we are a tough bunch and we soldier on.

You’ve got the right … to party!

So what have I done here at Diane’s Puppets to make sure that my clients can keep partying in these very challenging times?

Well first of all I haven’t put up my prices in over 10 years. Yes that’s right, my prices are the same as ten years ago.

I recognise that things are difficult for my clients and feel that we need to work together to help each other out. I need my clients so I can stay in business, they need me to provide them with an affordable service.

Secondly I’ve tried to offer my clients more choice. I’ve rethought my entertainment packages and come up with a selection of low cost packages that suit both my clients and myself. I now have mix and match packages that clients can tailor to their own needs and budgets. It’s a win/win situation, surely the best business scenario.

Thirdly I’ve added another string to my bow. I have started up another little business to keep me occupied during quiet entertainment times ( school holidays) when the majority of my clients are away. I’ve turned a personal passion , a new hobby into a business and I’ve called it Crochet Bright and Beautiful.

It’s all rather brand new, but very exciting as I’m building a loyal client base and getting my face and cute crochet out there in the world. I’ve now got three market stalls under my belt and a nearly new sale.

I’m starting to sell on the Internet via my Folksy shop and Facebook page  and am constantly making new things to add to my stock. I’m working on a range of scarves at the minute featuring very current/on trend Granny Squares in bright colours edged with black. I’m hoping to eventually sell at Spitalfields market.

There’s no rest for the wicked, or for those who want to keep their heads above the water during this double dip recession. So I’m outa here . It’s time to crack on with crochet.

Then on the weekend it’s party on dude.

So despite this horrid economic situation I’m quietly happy and happily busy.

Let’s bring out the final cliche, yes, every cloud has a silver lining. This recession has brought out the business woman in me, albeit a very quirky one.

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