It’s almost Easter, and I’ll soon be donning my Easter bunny ears. During the school holidays, at your local shopping centre or department store, your child will be entertained by a performer like me, in the guise of a face painter, magician or storytelling fairy.
We’re employed to entertain your littlies for a brief period, to give them a break from the tedium of shopping for a new blender or deck chair. It’s a win-win situation - the kid gets a moment of enchantment and fantasy, while mum or dad gets a break from the constant chant of “Can we go home now?” But it’s a privilege that too many parents abuse, maybe because they don’t realise they’re supposed to stay with the kids while we entertain them.
So on behalf of all the Fairies, Elsas and Easter Bunnies, here’s what you should know to ensure the performance experience is a magical one all round:
Don’t treat me as a daycare centre.
Performers aren’t babysitters, and we’re not trained in child care, so don’t leave the area to go shopping. Our services are designed as a brief shopping pit-stop. When we’ve finished painting a little face we need to move on to the next kid. If you’ve disappeared, your child can get upset.
Don’t interrupt the magic.
You had to take a phone call, so you were happy for your child to be entertained for a few minutes, but now you’re ready to go and we’re only halfway through the story. Don’t drag your child away now; let them enjoy this special moment. We’ll be quick - promise.
Don’t hog my services.
Sometimes parents like to be entertained too, and demand we perform yet another magic trick, or suggest, “Maybe just paint her arm as well as her face?” There are other children waiting for their share of the fun.
Don’t let your child misbehave.
It’s hard to stay jolly when I’m steering Santa through the store as his helper elf while your child is hitting him to get his attention, and you do nothing. Common courtesy counts. So please stop your child from yelling and pushing in front of the other kids, and don’t let your child touch my face-paints.
Don’t make outlandish demands.
The shopping outlet is paying us to be there as an attraction and my services to you are free. So if we have 25 perfectly good face-paint designs for your child to choose from (yes, including Elsa), don’t demand we do something we haven’t practised, like a sabre tooth tiger riding a polar bear. We can try, but chances are your child will be disappointed if we don’t get it right.
Don’t force your child to interact if they don’t want to.
If your child is shy, or even in tears, because you’ve plopped them down in the audience to watch us entertain, please take the hint. Yes, we’re warm, welcoming and fun, but every now and then a child won’t be instantly enamoured by us. There’s no point in holding them down to get their face painted if they won’t cooperate.
Don’t send your child to us when they’re sick.
Apart from this being unpleasant for the entertainer, we’re in close proximity to a hundred other children every day. If your child has a runny nose, I’m at risk of spreading infection. I use the same brushes for everyone, and while I try to sterilise them in the .2 seconds I have between faces, I can’t guarantee a germ-free environment.
Don’t enforce gender stereotypes.
Please don’t discourage your son if he wants a butterfly painted on his cheek, or your daughter if she wants to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. They’ll be increasingly gender-stereotyped as they grow up; let them express themselves now.
Don’t nab all the samples.
It’s supposed to be one Easter egg per child - not 20 per adult.
Dad, don't hit on me.
Enough said. But seriously, I’m here to entertain your child. Don’t make this uncomfortable for all of us.