Sorry for the delay in posting, but it’s Nutcracker season, and if you have a dancer in your house, as I do, then you know that a significant portion of every holiday season must be spent in the company of Clara and her Christmas dream. Of course even if you don’t have a dancer in your house but you do happen to have a television, you’re likely to be haunted by the music from the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy throughout this season anyway, as it is usually applied diligently to help sell everything from cordless drills to diamonds. But when you live with a dancer, particularly a ballerina, it’s like Herr Drosselmeyer (who I’ve always found to be more than a little bit creepy) comes to stay with you for at least a couple of weeks. Of course the upside is that you get to see it performed, as we did this weekend.
As a parent of pretty active kids, I often catch a glimpse of one or both or them engaged in some group activity or sport, usually in some kind of public context, and for a moment, I see them as I might see any other child — a child whose fears and strengths and weaknesses I know nothing about. A child who is simply there on the stage, or on the tae kwon do mat, or in the dance studio, doing what they do, and I can’t figure out how they have become so beautiful, so talented, so grown.
We’ve had the good fortune to see both our son and daughter in this light on multiple occasions, and I still can’t get accustomed to that rush of blood to my head and the tightening of my throat, that impulse to turn to whoever is next to me and say “That’s my kid.” It’s good to be proud, and proud I was as I watched my daughter moving so beautifully on stage.
But something else happened this weekend, something that reminded me of where we’ve been, and how far our children have come.
After each performance, a few members of the company are asked to come out into the lobby in full stage makeup and costume, including pointe shoes. My daughter was asked to do so after the matinee this Sunday, the performance that we attended. Busy crowds bustled about the lobby, and the din was tremendous. A large number of the audience were young girls, all dressed up — some in their best holiday attire, some in ballet outfits. They clung to their parents with one arm, clutched souvenir nutcrackers with the other, and stared up open-mouthed at the spectacle of full-grown, honest-to-goodness ballerinas in their midst.
I stood on the landing above the lobby, just watching as my girl — looking all grown up — bent down to say hello and thank the younger dreamers for coming. And in the faces of those younger girls, I saw the face of my daughter so many years ago — years before the many rides to and from classes and performances, the days and days of rehearsals, and the hours and hours and hours of practice.
And I felt glad to be reminded that some dreams do indeed come true.