As many successful people are discovering, life is a bit like Slippery Stairs
Are We There Yet? A diverting list of things to do with the children in your life
‘Slippery Stairs’: Men, barefoot, in rubber onesies climbing a stairs made of ice. What’s not to like?
In the early hours of the morning my brain has a tendency to spiral with the darkest parental thoughts. Sometimes, when I’ve eaten too much cheese before bedtime, I am consumed by the reality that the world is full of things and people and ideas and patriarchal constructs with the power to damage my daughters now and in the future.
When that happens, I do my best impression of an ostrich and seek out distractions. I found a most pleasing one the other day. It’s a TV show called Slippery Stairs and it comes from Japan.
Slippery Stairs – find it online at once if you need a distraction from the avalanche of awfulness that abounds at the moment – is the ultimate metaphor not just for parenting but for human existence. It involves a group of Japanese people dressed in skin-tight rubber onesies trying to climb a steep set of stairs made of ice. In their bare feet. (It is also a metaphor for Brexit.)
Occasionally, through great grit and determination and luck, the onesie-clad people nearly reach the top of the Slippery Stairs, where – in a fiendish twist – water is pumped out of giant taps to make the slippery stairs even more slippery. Any slight misstep, or just the simple fact that they are attempting to climb stairs made of ice, means they invariably lose their footing and slide back down. At this point the audience – a baying gaggle of enthusiastic Japanese people – are in hysterics.
When they fall (as we inevitably do, parents, non-parents and Japanese gameshow participants alike) the contestants collide into each other and in many cases force their fellow stair climbers down to the foot of the ice staircase where they must start all over again.
As many successful people seem to be discovering at the moment, life is a bit like Slippery Stairs. You never know when you will end up at the bottom of the pile, in a heap of bodies, cold, battered and shivering.
But back on the gameshow, but it’s funny watching everyone try to reach the top. I could watch it all day long. I really want them to get there, you see, I don’t want them to fall but I know they – and I really mean we – will at some point. They fall and get back up again. They fall. Get back up. Repeat to fade. It’s all highly addictive. And distracting, which is the main thing.
There’s a lot of talk about resilience these days. I’m told I need to raise resilient children or else condemn them to a life of being walked over and talked over or worse. What I’m learning watching Slippery Stairs is that all I can do for my kids is to make sure I am at the bottom of the stairs with them when they fall as they inevitably will, laughing and crying and cheering. And another lesson: I need to eat less cheese.
Now, here are some distracting things to do with the children in your life this weekend ...
French Film Festival, IFI, Dublin
Every month, when she’s able, my mother has been known to bring an assortment of her 17 grandchildren to the lovely IFI cinema to watch the monthly family movie. If they are very lucky she brings them for lunch afterwards – dough balls with too much butter in nearby Milano or a burger from Bunsen are favourites. This weekend there’s a special treat as part of the French Film Festival with Le Voyage De Fanny or Fanny’s Journey. This award winning story of courage, determination and survival begins in occupied France where Jewish 13-year-old Fanny is in charge of a motley crew of kids forced to flee the children’s home where they live. This movie is sure to fuel some interesting conversations amongst children aged 10 and over. (Bring croissants instead of popcorn for extra ooh la la.)
Where: IFI Cinema, Eustace Street, Dublin
When: 11am, Sunday, November 26th
Cost: Tickets €4.80 per person. €14.40 for a family ticket
Eco Crafts, Botanic Gardens, Dublin
The eco-warriors in your life will love this. Help them to spread beauty and prevent waste this Christmas by bringing the children to making their own plantable, eco-friendly cards using recycled and natural materials. The cards will be made from bio-degradable seed infused paper and will still be there long after Santa has gone home to the North Pole. The cards can be planted in your garden or in pots on the windowsill – a gift that literally keeps giving.
Where: Visitor’s centre. Botanic Gardens, Dublin
When: Saturday, November 15th, 11am-12pm for ages 6-8 and 2-3pm for ages 8 and over
Christmas Book Clinic, Kildare
Everyone knows books make the best gifts and coming up to Christmas this event couldn’t be more timely. The book clinic is aimed at young readers who are feeling uninspired by their bookshelves at home and need a prescription for an exciting new read. All your reading ailments will be solved at this Book Clinic hosted by Children’s Books Ireland. The Book Doctor will see you now ...
Where: Riverbank Arts Centre, Kildare
When: Saturday, November 25th, drop in between 11am - 3pm
Contact: (045) 44833
Beauty and the Beast, The Helix, Dublin
I am very much a Christmas person but I have to confess I’m a little bit Scrooge when it comes to one annual ritual - I am just not a panto kind of dame. But if I was a panto person I’d be checking out Beauty and the Beast at the Helix because it’s produced by TheatreworX and if you’ve seen any of their productions, you know what to expect: a magical story, spectacular scenery, sparkling song and dance routines and of course that little bit of corny comedy genius. Another reason to go to this one is that this year it stars Irish tenor Paul Byrom making his panto debut as the indefatigable, overbearing Gaston. He’s behind you etc.
Where: The Helix, DCU, Dublin
When: With a massive nine week run, it’s on now until January 21st
Cost: Tickets are priced from €19.50
The Cork North Pole Outpost Experience, Cork
Now this is my cup of reindeer juice. It’s a little known fact that Santa has a North Pole Outpost located in deepest, wildest county Cork. He’s arrived at Cuskinny Court already - even picking up a bit of the accent, boy - and I can’t say anymore because the Elves have sworn me to secrecy. If you want to steer clear of commercial Christmas rip-offs and get back to an old fashioned yuletide experience, this is the place for you. No fake snow, no plastic toys, no over priced merchandise - Donald Trump would hate it. Let’s just say it’s the closest you can get to the magic of Christmas without actually flying to Lapland.
Where: Cuskinny Court, Co Cork
When: Selected dates from Sunday, November 26th to Saturday, December 23rd, visitors welcome from 10am - 8.30pm
Contact: Book your tickets on (021) 242 8868; email: email@example.com
Smithfield Lights, Dublin
The main Dublin Christmas lights were switched on last week, and this week it’s Smithfield’s turn. On Sunday, the Square will be transformed for a fun-filled family evening of festive entertainment with face-painting, a vintage carousel and an outdoor screening of Christmas classic The Snowman. They’ve also got market stalls with delicious food, arts and crafts, a performance from the Stanhope Street Girls Choir and The Riptide Movement and a chance to get up close and personal with the Sam Maguire cup - so there’s something for everyone in the family.
Where: Smithfield Square, Dublin
When: Market stalls open from 3pm, The Snowman at 5pm with the Christmas Tree lights ceremony at about 7.10pm. Closes at 9pm
Contact: www.dublin.ie/dccevents; Twitter: @events_DCC; Facebook: @EVENTSDCC#SmithfieldLights
If you know of great free stuff to do with children around the country or really good value experiences and events that are coming up, or even excellent family friendly restaurants, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find me on Twitter @roisiningle