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Ballet Recital 2.0

Maddie had her ballet recital over the
weekend – her second one, since she did one last year with
the three-year-old class. Last year was Madeleine’s first
time on stage, as well as her first time away from Mommy while she
waited backstage, and both were big milestones for her. She was
quite nervous and didn’t think she’d make it through
the waiting (or even go on, for that matter) but afterwards she was
glowing and proud.

This year, Maddie considered herself an old pro at the recital
thing. She was quite excited all week, and checked with me
repeatedly to make sure I’d gotten everything – new
tights, hair net, and so forth. During a local consignment sale
this spring I’d stumbled across a Princess plastic storage
case, and I set it aside for Maddie’s recital. The night
before the show, Brian and I gave it to her, filled with the old
makeup I use for her, Kleenex, tic-tacs, hair nets, and everything
else a budding ballerina needs in her makeup case. Maddie fingered
through everything reverentially, and could barely sleep.

The morning of the show was the first time
Maddie’s ever gotten up early without me waking her up. We
had to be finished with hair and make-up and in the car by 8:30,
and by 8:10 my child was staring at the clock, willing it to move
faster. We carpooled with her friend Elise, and the two girls
talked excitedly the entire way there.

After the dress rehearsal we went out for pancakes to celebrate,
and both girls looked like such little bunheads I couldn’t
stand it. They sat there eating pancakes, still in tights and
leotards under their cover-ups, hair pulled tight in buns and
makeup dusted lightly across their cheeks, and looked both
startlingly grown-up and heartbreakingly young. They could barely
sit still, and I know both girls were counting the hours until the
show that night.

Obviously, Maddie didn’t sleep for her nap time, but was out
of her room seconds after her quiet time music finished. She went
over and over her dance bag, reassuring herself that everything was
packed. Ballet shoes: check. Snacks: check. Lip gloss: check.

As the afternoon wore on, Maddie’s nerves began to creep in.
“Mommy, I’m a little scared about tonight, but
I’m going to be brave and do it anyway,” she confessed
to me. “Puppy, you’re going to have such a good time
tonight. Your friends Ella and Elise will be there with you, and
you love dancing so much that when you’re in the wings you
won’t even think about being nervous.”

Quickly Maddie corrected me. “I’m not nervous, Mommy
– I’m just a little scared.”

Oh, sorry.

We got ourselves to the theatre, and Maddie walked away with her
dressing room monitor without a backwards glance. I couldn’t
help but compare it to last year, when she’d watched
uncertainly as I walked away, and I later found out cried for a
good bit after I left. She’d certainly grown in a year.

The performance was, as you can imagine, perfection. Every slip-up,
every mistake, just made it that much more wonderful, but as a
completely unbiased observer I have to tell you that they were
pretty near perfect. Each mom I spoke with afterwards gushed,
“Weren’t they wonderful? They really pulled it
together!” A dozen moms couldn’t be wrong.

We went out for ice cream afterwards, and Maddie insisted on
carrying her bouquets in with her like the winner of a local
pageant. As she strolled majestically into the Braums, she was all
but waving to her dazzled audience, hair still in a bun, makeup
firmly in place. Elise’s mom asked her, “So did you get
over being nervous?” And Maddie looked at her, startled, and
said, “I was never nervous. Never scared.”

Blithely re-writing history. That’s my girl.


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