She Makes a Good Pointe

On a whim, I took the girls to the ballet on Saturday. Yes, the ballet. I know, it’s not one of our usual lazy Saturday activities, but it happens that one of the best pre-professional dance schools in the country is located smack dab, well, here, and I’d seen advertised a new show they were producing for children. Like many of my good intentions, it got placed on a shelf way in the back of my mind somewhere beside “clean out the coat closet” and “vacuum behind the fridge.” I know David’s not too keen on the whole dance-watching thing, and honestly, most of our Saturday afternoons are spent watching college football. Priorities, you know.

As our arts-patronizing luck would have it, Notre Dame wasn’t playing until 7:30 that night. (Yes, we schedule our Saturdays around Notre Dame football in particular, and I should say I’m not proud, but I really am. It’s Notre Dame (of course I’m ignoring their record. I have to). And if sitting in front of the TV for four hours on a fall afternoon is what it takes to wake up the echoes, shake down the thunder, and brainwash our children to go to school there some day, well, we’re just doing our civic duty.

But this particular football-less day found David working furiously to complete the Fireplace Mantle of Gloriousness. He was determined to finish this project, and I’m a little tired of shuffling through sawdust whenever I go outside. Brilliantly, I remembered that the children’s ballet was being performed that afternoon, and was able to find tickets at the last minute. I was worried that David would be upset that I wanted to take the girls to the ballet without him.

He wasn’t. Actually, he gave me full blessings, a hearty whoop, and possibly a small jig that he had such a great excuse not to go. I think there was a cartwheel thrown in there, too.

So, off we went, the two girls and I, over the bridge and into the city. I was nervous. Saoirse’s never been one to be keen on watching people dance–she’d rather break it down and get all jiggy wit’ it herself. And Quinn, well…Quinn’s a toddler. Was she going to even sit for an hour?

She didn’t. Actually, Quinn stood on my lap the entire time, watching from our seats in the mezzanine, dancing every time there was a key change in the music. I kept her in steady supply of Dum-Dums, which I would completely judge somebody else for doing to a 16-month-old’s shiny new teeth, but it kept her happy, which means the audience members around us were happy. (You may judge me all you want, and that’s okay with me. I’ll just be sure not to tell you about the doughnut she ate after mass this morning.) She’d point, and clap, and turn to face me with a big, gap-toothed grin. The dancers leapt and twirled around the stage, dressed as birds and fish and penguins. A two-personed elephant came skipping out, and Quinn called out, “Luca!!” to the slight annoyance of the people sitting in front of us.

And Saoirse. Man, that girl is so much fun to take to events like this. That child sat on the edge of her seat the entire time, clutching the program in one hand and her ticket in the other. The only time she’d move would be to occasionally turn to smile at me before turning her focus back to the stage. She just perched there, back ramrod straight, intent and enthralled. I couldn’t stop looking at her and just grinning. The man sitting behind us most likely thought I was loony. That’s okay. Even with a lollipop stuck in my hair, I was having a ball.

And then an hour later, it was all over. We walked Quinn back out to her stroller and made our way to the parking garage. Saoirse refused to let go of her ticket, and chattered the whole way out of the theater. As we walked, I turned to her.

“Hey, Saoirse,” I said. “What was your favorite part?”

“The dance,” she replied, matter-of-factly. And then she asked if we could go again sometime.

When we got home, take-out containers full of dinner in hand (yes, impromptu excursions like this can turn into expensive adventures, but let’s not discuss that right now, shall we?), David was still cutting and sawing and nailing. Saoirse told him all about what she saw, and he quietly admitted to me that he did feel a little bummed that he missed it, even if it was ballet.

I’ll tell you, it’s a good thing he said that: The Nutcracker is playing in December, and I’m getting tickets before he can dream up another house project to swallow up his ballet-going time. I’ve already got the lollipops packed up and ready to go.

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