Kindergarten Transitions: a Stay-at-Home Dad's Perspective

A local father faces the challenge of sending his son off to school for the first time


Published:

Photo courtesy of Dylan Ward

My son didn’t love kindergarten. Not at first. Though it had only been a week at that point and all of this was so new, just like it was and will be for hundreds of other little children starting kindergarten, this truth hit me harder than I expected.

I was disappointed most by the fact that my son wasn’t wowed and excited by kindergarten. I dismissed my son’s reaction to it initially as just first-day shock. But when he didn’t get excited or exclaim his love for kindergarten in the days that followed, I worried even more. He seemed more stressed than happy, and irrational fears cropped up as I worried kindergarten was simply too much for him. 

I am a worrier by nature. My son’s reluctance to embrace kindergarten coupled with my bouts of worry didn’t help this transition. I already didn’t like being away from him for so many hours and I knew he didn’t like it too. I didn’t like not knowing all the things that he was doing and experiencing inside that new, large brick building we called school. His quietness at the end of the day was strange and uncharacteristic and I couldn’t comprehend it.

With each day I struggled to help my son work through his frustrations, I also had to work through my own frustrations. The days he spent in kindergarten only seemed longer because of this. When I dropped him off at school, I watched him walk into the building, his superheroes backpack bouncing along with his small gait and I cringed watching him walk down the hall away from me, pangs of guilt washing over me. I worried I had failed as a parent because my son was having such a hard time. What had I done wrong that he would feel this way? How could I have made this transition better for him? 

As a stay-at-home dad, my son and I have hardly been separated from each other in the past three years. Preschool was only two half days a week and we have many fond and happy memories of it. The rest of our time was spent just the two of us together or with friends, laughing and crying, on-the-go, or just relaxing with nothing to do. Those were the best days. Nothing to do, just enjoying the day in the way we wanted and as it unfolded, sometimes in surprising and unexpected ways. Suddenly, now I was facing those looming elementary school years and my son was growing faster than I was prepared for and I was filled with so many questions and uncertainties that I wanted those preschool years back.

It wasn’t until well into the second week of school that my son finally started to warm up to kindergarten. During those first two weeks, I pored over and read all the comments online from the new kindergarten moms and how much their kids were just loving kindergarten, despite the sadness of being away from their babies who were moving on to the next, big step. As a dad, I felt a bit left out, as we stay-at-home dads are far and few in between, but I knew I felt these same feelings too. 

I also worried how I’d be accepted into the fold of a world dominated by moms. Was there a place for me somewhere among the “Room Moms”? Could I really fit in with the “Laminating Fairies”? Where could I help the school but also help my child to feel safe, comfortable and happy there too? Navigating the rules, regulations, needs and nuances of the multiplex system of public schools was enough just to try to understand and absorb it all.  

One of the hardest realities was when I noticed how quiet it was in the house and it hit me how lonely I was. Finding a balance with all that extra time was hard without a child there to keep me on my toes. I missed interacting with my son, watching him learn and discover the world at his fingertips. Alone at home, my mind was filled with unanswered questions. I wondered what my son was doing in the classroom. I wondered if he was enjoying learning new things? I wondered if he liked being with his new friends? I relished nothing more than hearing his tales of what  happened at school, even if those stories were told several days later. 

In our first weeks of track out (a perk I especially love with a year-round school) I’ve enjoyed every moment I could spend with my son. We lazed about and explored the world at our own paces. Though we were both happy, I gave gentle reminders to him that he would go back to school soon and with that meant long days again and being away from me. But I hugged him and gave him what comfort I could give, letting him know he should not worry. One of our favorite children’s picture books is "Wemberly Worried," written by Kevin Henkes. We love to read it and recall it often to remind each other (me, mostly) not to worry. Sometimes Daddy just needs someone to hold his hand and make it all better.  


Dylan Ward writes fiction, short stories, screenplays, reviews and essays. In 2014, his first book was published: "Behind the Story of The Goldfinch." Learn more about his work at dylanwardwriter.com.

 

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April 2019

Join professional chefs at the Food Lion Kitchen Stage as they prepare recipes using the freshest ingredients and products from the Food Lion Family. Learn tips to make healthier and easier meals....

Cost: $10-$12/person

Where:
NC State Fairgrounds
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh , NC  27607
View map »

More information

Celebrate mythic arts with magicians and musicians, acrobats and comedians, artists and crafters, proud knights and fairytale creatures. All ages. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
2908 Optimist Farm Rd.
Apex, NC
View map »


Website »

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Join Mindful Families of Durham, a Buddhist-inspired spiritual community that supports area parents, caregivers, and their children in the practice of mindfulness and the understanding of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
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Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
Website »

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Shop, sample and share the fun at the Triangle’s favorite event for women. Discover hundreds of boutiques filled with the latest fashions, trendy jewelry, gourmet treats, health and...

Cost: $10-$12

Where:
NC State Fairgrounds
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  26707
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Website »

More information

Ring in spring with Topper the Bunny on the farm with this festive egg hunt featuring entertainment and activities for all ages. Meet Topper and pose for Easter photos, and see him drop eggs...

Cost: $10 Topper's Pass (includes egg hunt); $5 Chickee Pass (egg hunt not included)

Where:
Hubb's Farm
10276 N US 421 Hwy
Clinton, NC  28328
View map »


Sponsor: HubbsFarm
Telephone: 910-564-6709
Contact Name: Tammy Peterson
Website »

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Take your favorite lady and enjoy stage performances, giveaways and activities. All ages.

Cost: $10-$12

Where:
NC State Fairgrounds
1025 Blue Ridge Road
Raleigh , NC  27607
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Telephone: (704) 494-7563
Website »

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Celebrate the local craft beverage community while raising funds for Animal Protection Society of Durham at the 2nd annual Pints For Paws Craft Beverage Festival on Sunday, April 14, from 12-4 PM....

Cost: $10-$60

Where:
Durham Central Park
501 Foster Street
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Animal Protection Society of Durham
Telephone: 919-560-0640 ext. 23
Contact Name: Darlene Fiscus
Website »

More information

Cary’s popular food truck rally also features music from local performers.

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Cary
, NC  27511


Website »

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Enjoy free candy for all children through grade 5. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Grace Bible Fellowship
9043 Chapel Hill Road
Cary, NC  27513
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Sponsor: Grace Bible Fellowship
Telephone: 919-468-4590
Website »

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Children make treasured memories while increasing their knowledge of plants and animals. Ages 7-10. Register online. Choose course #121614.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

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Watch a brief slideshow, then explore the inner workings of the mill itself and witness the power of water as it turns the milling machinery. Preregistration is encouraged. 

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Free/Child (ages 6-under)

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Geocaching is a treasure hunt where participants use GPS coordinates to track down hidden “caches.” Learn what geocaching is all about and head out to find a real geocache in the park! We will...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

More information

Look for signs of spring. All ages with adult. Register online. Choose course #121682.

Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

See Mickey Mills perform steel drum music as enjoyed in the Caribbean. 

Cost: $3/person

Where:
Century Center
100 N. Green St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Website »

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Take your little princesses and sing-a-long with your favorite fairytale friends. Take a camera for an opportunity to meet and pose for pictures with the princesses following their...

Cost: $10-$12

Where:
NC State Fairgrounds
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh , NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Michael Carbonaro brings his signature blend of bizarre antics, audience interaction, hilarious video clips, and mind-blowing magic to the stage. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $40 and up

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Website »

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Ages 2-5 enjoy movement and mindfulness. Learn basic yoga elements through age-appropriate breath-work techniques, games, storytelling, and creative visualization.

Cost: $15 or use your package/membership

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Pittsboro
184 East St.
Pittsboro, NC  27312
View map »


Website »

More information

Crows in red sweaters, nest and caw, gather snacks, and dodge a kitty’s paw. How many crows take to the sky? Count all the crows and watch them fly! Join us as we read this adorable story by...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Ages 5-13. Homeschool Yoga is a one-hour class designed to strengthen and stretch the entire body, balance the nervous system, improve body awareness. Weave in art and journaling before or after...

Cost: $15 or use class pass/membership

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Pittsboro
184 East Street
Pittsboro, NC  27312
View map »

More information

Ages 5-13 enjoy a one-hour yoga class designed to strengthen and stretch the entire body, balance the nervous system, improve body awareness, encourage the development of communication and social...

Cost: $15 or use class pass/membership

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Pittsboro
184 East St.
Pittsboro, NC  27312
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Website »

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Enjoy a family-friendly movie on a big screen. Take snacks and blankets. Doors open at 9:30 a.m.

Cost: Free

Where:
The Halle Cultural Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Website »

More information

Ages 2-5 enjoy movement and mindfulness. Learn basic yoga elements through age-appropriate breath-work techniques, games, storytelling, and creative visualization and more.

Cost: $15/child, use your package/membership.

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Chapel Hill
781 Mt Carmel Church Rd
chapel hill, NC  27517
View map »


Website »

More information

A brave young woman sets out on a journey to discover the mystery of her past through the twilight of the Russian Empire to the euphoria of Paris in the 1920s. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $129 and up

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Website »

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Ages 2-5 with caregiver enjoy sing-alongs, stories, a nature walk and a snack.

Cost: $2/resident, $3/nonresident

Where:
Hargraves Community Center
216 N. Roberson St.
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
View map »


Website »

More information

Go back in time to the 18th century. Compare life then and now using pictures, artifacts, and modern objects as well as historic reproductions. In a guided inquiry, discover the purposes of several...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Do you have what it takes to be a History Detective? Come to Yates Mill and find out! Solve puzzles, hunt for clues and investigate the mystery of milling with real historical artifacts inside the...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), and $3/Child (ages 16 & under)

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Connect with your baby, other parents and yourself during this adult-focused postpartum yoga class. Recommended for babies newborn to walking. Take a mat, a blanket for your little one, and...

Cost: $15 or use class pass/membership

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Pittsboro
184 East Street
Pittsboro, NC  27312
View map »


Website »

More information

Expand your knowledge of local flora and fauna by exploring a different area of the park each month. Join park staff as they "nerd out" over amphibians, birds, insects, spiders and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

Meet other families in your community in a recreation setting. The play room will be reserved for parents and their young children. Sports and recreation equipment will be available...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sanderford Road Center
2623 Sanderford Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department
Telephone: 919-831-1898
Contact Name: Adam Sproles
Website »

More information

Young Mowgli learns about friendship, survival and the laws of the jungle. All ages. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $10/person

Where:
The ArtsCenter
300-G E. Main St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Website »

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Join park staff for an informal fishing experience for the whole family. Take your own poles or borrow one from the park. Bait and basic instruction are provided. All participants 16...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

A brave young woman sets out on a journey to discover the mystery of her past through the twilight of the Russian Empire to the euphoria of Paris in the 1920s. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $129 and up

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Parent and child ages 2-5 water plants in the native wildflower gardens. Register online. Choose course #121560.

Cost: Free

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

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This after-school class for kids in grades 3-5 offers fun learning yoga poses and mindfulness techniques to reduce stress. Grades 3-5. 

Cost: $15/class, or use your class pass/membership.

Where:
Kids Mindful Movement - Chapel Hill
781 Mt. Carmel Church Rd.
Chapel Hill, NC  27517
View map »


Website »

More information

A brave young woman sets out on a journey to discover the mystery of her past through the twilight of the Russian Empire to the euphoria of Paris in the 1920s. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $129 and up

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Take the family to see a movie by the lake. Movie begins at dusk. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Bond Park
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

You may know the important role that milkweed plants play in the life of Monarch butterflies, but did you know that during World War II the government encouraged citizens to collect milkweed fluff...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Take your budding paleontologist on a quest to unearth colorful dinosaur eggs. Explore the Dinosaur Trail where you will find fun activities, adventure, and prehistoric excitement, including...

Cost: $7 for egg hunters, $2 for accompanying adults. Museum admission not included.

Where:
Museum of LIfe and Science
433 W. Murray Ave.
Durham, NC  27704-3101
View map »


Sponsor: Museum of Life and Science
Telephone: 919-220-5429
Contact Name: Heather Hill
Website »

More information

Join us for a day of family fun to welcome spring, including a picnic area, giant slides, a giant sandbox, the barrel train, and mini zip lines (weights up to 100 pounds).  An egg hunt for...

Cost: $8 Bunny Pass (includes egg hunt); $5 Chickee Pass

Where:
Hubb's Farm
10276 N US 421 Hwy
Clinton, NC  28328
View map »


Sponsor: Hubb's Farm NC
Telephone: 910-564-6709
Contact Name: Tammy Peterson
Website »

More information

Get ready for Easter with egg decorating. Make wooden eggs that will last for years. Along with the crafting, enjoy some treats.  Register online. 

Cost: $8/person

Where:
Bull City Craft
105 W NC highway 54
Suite 265
Durham, NC  27713
View map »


Sponsor: Bull City Craft
Telephone: 919-419-0800
Contact Name: Jessica Greene
Website »

More information

Enjoy fun, games, friendship and more every Friday.

Cost: Free

Where:
Sanderford Road Center
2623 Sanderford Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department
Telephone: 919-831-1898
Contact Name: Adam Sproles
Website »

More information

A brave young woman sets out on a journey to discover the mystery of her past through the twilight of the Russian Empire to the euphoria of Paris in the 1920s. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $129 and up

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Step back in time with our 19th-century costumed interpreters and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal. Preregistration is encouraged. Tours are not available between Noon-1:00...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Free/Child (6 - under)

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Take a walk in the woods and discover the animals and plants that call our park home. Help collect data for our Natural Resource Inventory Database and other citizen science projects. All...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Take the family to enjoy a day of hands-on learning. Discover life on a 19th-century farm and play historic games, from parlor games to town ball, and make a toy of your own.

Cost: Free

Where:
Duke Homestead
2828 Duke Homestead Rd.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

Explore the rich African American history along the streets of downtown. From stories of entrepreneurs, triumphs, and tragedy, you will discover the legacy of the men and women who lived, worked,...

Cost: Adults $10, Youth 7-17 $4. Free for ages 6 and younger

Where:
City of Raleigh Museum
220 Fayetteville Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

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Take your Easter baskets and enjoy an Easter egg hunt featuring 25,000 eggs, including 3 golden eggs. Bounce houses, food, music and prizes round out the fun. Register today by texting...

Cost: Free

Where:
Baptist Grove Church
7109 Leesville Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27587
View map »


Sponsor: Baptist Grove Church
Telephone: (919) 787-4528 x224
Contact Name: Cynthia Jacko Wise
Website »

More information

Ages 4-12 with caregiver enjoy arts and crafts.

Cost: Free

Where:
Halle Cultural Arts Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Website »

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Take your budding paleontologist on a quest to unearth colorful dinosaur eggs. Explore the Dinosaur Trail where you will find fun activities, adventure, and prehistoric excitement, including...

Cost: $7 for egg hunters, $2 for accompanying adults. Museum admission not included.

Where:
Museum of LIfe and Science
433 W. Murray Ave.
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View map »


Sponsor: Museum of Life and Science
Telephone: 919-220-5429
Contact Name: Heather Hill
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Enjoy an Easter egg hunt featuring games and prizes. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Genesis Church
6724 Hankinson Rd,
Wendell, NC  27591
View map »


Sponsor: Genesis Church
Telephone: 843-908-1700
Contact Name: Carolyn Lutz
Website »

More information

Celebrate the diversity of all children with music, crafts, dancing and more. Enjoy stage performances, international food, games and crafts.

Cost: Free

Where:
Sertoma Amphitheatre, Bond Park
801 High House Rd.
, NC  27513
View map »


Website »

More information

Put your dancing shoes on! Come to the mill yard to join our costumed interpreters in learning and dancing 19th-century country dances. You do not need to have a partner to dance—just a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Step back in time with our 19th-century costumed interpreters and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal.  Preregistration is encouraged. Tours are not available between...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Free/Child (ages 6-under)

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Stop by our FREE discovery table to learn about Earth Day, officially celebrated on April 22! Registration is not required. The display table is located by the Upper Playground.

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

For almost 200 years, farmers brought their wheat and corn to what is now Yates Mill to have their grains ground into flour and meal. Today, you can stop by the Yates Mill visitor center to see a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
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More information

A brave young woman sets out on a journey to discover the mystery of her past through the twilight of the Russian Empire to the euphoria of Paris in the 1920s. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $129 and up

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

A brave young woman sets out on a journey to discover the mystery of her past through the twilight of the Russian Empire to the euphoria of Paris in the 1920s. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $129 and up

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Long ago, many families lived and worked on what is now Harris Lake County Park. Harvesting crops, tending livestock and carrying out daily chores were a major part of life in this bygone era....

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New HIll, NC  27562
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

More information

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