On the way to the sold-out Bunch Family Salon at The Arts and Letters Club last Saturday, my eight year old son looks into the window of our subway car and sees an alternate universe; it’s just us, but backwards. After he asks me to call him by his inverse reality name, “ttenraG,” he ponders how my name would sound. Turns out that even in other worlds, my name is “moM.”
The Bunch Salon is yet another alternate reality for parents and kids. You mean—we really really really get to make up songs with Broken Social Scene? Play Trampoline Hall with Misha Glouberman? Bang on drums with TSO lead timpanist David Kent? Make art with the AGO, play with props from Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People, and create films with the NFB? You mean, as a parent, I get to do something that’s as-cool-if-not-cooler than arts activities offered to non-parents? Without a nursery rhyme, Banana In Pajama, or ball of Play-Doh in sight?
Please excuse my incredulity; after spending years of sitting in sandboxes, dropping at drop-ins, and blowing weekend afternoons on countless birthday parties at soul-sucking warehouses in far flung suburban light-industrial areas, Bunch Salon is the Lollapalooza of kidness (back when Lollapalooza was still good). Bunch has now spoiled this mother for kids’ conventional group activities, and that intolerance is long overdue. Sometimes parents are too patient, but mostly they’re just too exhausted to consider organizing alternatives. Kids often get dragged to adult events, but it’s usually no fun for them to have to act like adults. The organizers have made a giant mental leap in defining programming for families, and other groups will certainly begin to follow their example.
But don’t listen to me; this Bunch installment was vigorously kid-tested and whole-heartedly recommended by Garnett, who says:
“I liked the props the best because there was a game with lines from books and you had to make a sculpture about the line you got. Mine was ‘It was a dark and stormy night.’ I liked the music because everyone made up words. The musicians said that they weren’t singing in English because not everyone knew English, so they sang sounds like AH OOO AH. They asked us what we thought about eating meat…”
Anything you don’t like about Bunch?
“The cookies were really good, but too big for me. Could they add oil pastels and cartooning next time?”
Please let there be many next times, Bunch. Already, we’re looking forward to your upcoming dance parties at The Drake and your Indie For Kiddies at The El Mo (for kids about to rock, we salute you!). And please don’t reduce the size of your luscious homemade chocolate chunk cookies; sometimes, even in alternate realities, Mom still knows best.
Photos of Broken Social Scene, Misha Glouberman, and Garnett with prop from LKYPT by Sharon Harris.