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Ballet Recital

The girls had their annual ballet recital
over the weekend, and it was quite the event for everyone involved.

This was Cora’s first recital EVER, and she’d been
looking forward to it since she started ballet in September. At
various times throughout the year she gave me instructions on how
the Big Day would go, such as: “Mommy, I’m going to
need someone to drive me to the theatre for the recital. So
you’ll need to take me there, then leave me backstage.
Don’t try to stay with me, ok? This is important.” Or
how about, “Mommy, when you come to get me after the
performance, you need to bring flowers with you to give me.”

Little gems like that.

Before her first recital, Maddie was
nervous and apprehensive, worrying about being away from me
backstage. Cora had none of those fears. The girl seemed almost
born for the day, and as the Big Day drew nearer I saw nothing but
excitement and anticipation in her face.

Cora had her dress rehearsal first thing that morning, and I
dropped her at the stage door fully dressed and ready to go. I
watched on television monitors outside the theatre as the
three-year-olds made their way onstage and figured out where to
stand and where to look. The children stumbled around uncertainly,
and even from the grainy television feed I could see my child
quietly taking it all in.

After I picked Cora up, we talked in the car about how it had gone.
“Were you worried backstage in the dark at all?” I

“No,” Cora said, with a ‘why would I?’
tone. “When we were standing in the wings one of my friends
said, ‘It’s dark back here!’ and I said,
‘It’s SUPPOSED to be dark. It’s
backstage!’” I could hear the scorn even in the
re-telling, and realized my kid was going to be just fine.

Cora insisted on keeping her hair slicked up in a bun all day, and
her regal neck was held carefully the entire afternoon. After lunch
it was Maddie’s turn to get fixed up, and you could see her
relief as the attention was finally turned on her. Maddie tried
hard all morning not to be jealous of Cora’s place in the
(literal) spotlight, but the effort had worn her down.

For Maddie’s dress rehearsal I found myself once again in
front of the in-house monitors, and watched as the first row of
dancers skipped onstage. When the second row – including
Maddie – came out, I immediately found Maddie: she was the
one skipping so aggressively that she seemed to be trying to use
sheer willpower to move the kid in front of her onstage, already.

Ok, so both girls seemed comfortable with the stage by now.

We ate a light meal before the show and piled in the car, the girls
carefully primped and our show bouquets hidden in the back of the
car. I dropped Cora off at her dressing room, receiving permission
for Maddie to come sit in the audience and watch Cora’s piece
before heading back for her later performance time. As I prepared
to head out and leave Cora by herself backstage, I looked at her
little, barely-four-year-old face and worried she might feel
overwhelmed and nervous with all the hustle and bustle around her.
I squatted down in front of her.

“Baby, I know you will do so well tonight and I can’t
wait to see you dance! If you feel worried or scared at all, just
find a big kid to help you and you’ll be great. Are you going
to be ok?”

Cora stared at me owlishly and blinked, before settling her face in
a smooth-but-slightly-impatient mask. You know, the kind you
probably get on your own face when your kids are bugging you. I
could practically see Cora’s hands fighting to stay by her
sides instead of shooing me off.

I guess she was gonna be ok.

Cora’s class was the very first class of the night, and Cora
was the very first girl in her class to come onstage. Now, I know
you’re going to accuse me of being partial, but when that
tiny little girl in a pink leotard came running onstage and did a
little curtsey, the entire audience said a collective,
“Aaaaaaaaw!” So I know it’s not just Mamma Pride
talking when I say that my daughter was adorable. And did dang

Other girls squirmed and goofed off onstage, but Cora was focused
and dancing on a dream cloud the entire time. When she finished
Brian turned to me and whispered in awe, “She did every step
perfectly! She’s really good!” And I nodded vigorously,
glad that someone else completely objective had validated my

I rushed Maddie backstage for her turn and brought Cora out; she
was still high from her performance and floated all the way to her
seat. As she walked past grandparents all reaching out to pat and
congratulate her, she accepted the adulation demurely and sat
quietly, hands folded, neck long as she watched the other children

Cora had given me explicit instructions about one more aspect of
the night: intermission. Maddie’s dance was not until after
intermission, so Cora knew that the break was her chance for
basking in the solo spotlight of family praise. So before the show
she said, “Mommy, at intermission, everyone will form a
circle around me and hand me flowers and speak to me with

I know, this sounds insane and spoiled. But I know that Cora was
remembering years past, when the family all clustered around Maddie
and showered her with congratulations, and Cora had spent two years
watching this happen and by golly it was going to happen to her. So
I dutifully notified family members, and when intermission came
everyone hustled to get into position for the “circle of
admiration”. People oohed and aahed, took photos, handed
flowers, and gave my baby a moment in the spotlight. And boy did
she love it.

Maddie, of course, did a fantastic job on her dance and was quite
happy to have her spot after the show in the “circle of
admiration”. By the time we left, the girls could barely
carry the multiple bouquets and were beaming at each other through
their fog of exhaustion. We piled in the car, happy and pooped, and
I thought about how now we’d all get a bit of rest from the
ballet/recital frenzy for a while.

And then Cora spoke up.

“Mommy, today was my last day as a pink (three-year-old
class) girl. Today was my pink class graduation. Now I’m
officially a purple girl! I get to wear purple in my next recital!
Let’s go home and try it on!”

Or maybe not so much with the rest thing.


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