My family went to see The Nutcracker tonight. This was particularly exciting for us because our friends' daughter was dancing the part of young Clara. She did an excellent job, and we were proud to know her. Tom and I both commented on that pride during intermission and tried to imagine what it must have felt like to be her parents sitting in that audience on her opening night. I'm certain our wildest imaginings fell short.
I was a little concerned that our girls were perhaps a little old for The Nutcracker. You always picture little girls in fancy dresses going to the ballet as a part of their Christmas tradition. To be sure, there were a lot of them there. But I think perhaps our girls were the perfect age for this experience. Some of the younger kids acted bored - they had a hard time sitting still and remaining attentive for a 2 hour show. I felt particular sympathy for the parents who rushed crying young 'uns back the aisle and out of the theater, trying to be as minimally disruptive as possible. But my girls - they were enthralled. The magic began the moment we stepped into the Ohio Theater - a beautiful theater any time - all decorated for Christmas. It wasn't the first time we'd been there, but I'd be lying if I said we went often. I wish we did, but that's not the case. Anyway. Our seats were amazing. We were on the floor - far enough back to have a good view of the full stage, but close enough to actually see the expressions on the faces of the dancers. Awesome. It was so neat watching the girls straddle that line between childhood and the teens. They looked so grown up. Stunningly so, if I might be so bold. Lea gets dressed up sometimes, so she didn't shock me so much, but when Liv came downstairs in a dress, looking all grown-up girly - well, that was a little bittersweet. It swayed more strongly to the sweet side, though, when the show started. My little girl was captivated. Looking at the childlike wonder on her quickly maturing face was just - well, it was perfect. I leaned over and saw similar looks gracing Lea and Shelby's faces. Too good to be true.
We had also been concerned that they might be dancing to taped music, as there have been some (major) issues with the Columbus Symphony this year, but a live orchestra was indeed in the pit. Tom and the girls walked up and checked it out during intermission and were duly impressed.
As I watched some of those moms deal with children who were less than enthralled, I was reminded of the story of the first time my parents took my sister and I to the ballet. We were in Washington D.C., visiting my uncle and doing some sight-seeing. My dad wanted to see the Kennedy Center, so we stopped, just to see the lobby. A well-dressed gentleman approached my mother and asked if we were there to see the show. She explained, no, we were just there to see the facility on our way to the zoo. He asked if we'd LIKE to see the show, as he had tickets he would be unable to use. He told her she'd be doing him a favor by taking them. She reluctantly accepted and we, in our sight-seeing clothes, were led into the theater. We just kept going, and going - past many oppulently dressed and bejeweled folks - to incredible seats. Something like the 4th row. An amazing opportunity that fell right into our lap. Except that my sister and I were bored and we made sure our parents knew it (without causing a scene or being loud, of course). At intermission, we left. You see, my sister and I had been promised pandas. We were, as I mentioned, on our way to the zoo. All this dancing stuff was nice and all, but PANDAS, YA'LL!!! It is with no small amount of shame that I retell that story. We've both, I think, made it up to our parents (as well as we could - we've never managed to drop 4th row seats in the Kennedy Center in their lap again, but we've been otherwise gracious).
I'm so glad, as I mentioned earlier, that we waited until our kids were at an age where they could really appreciate the experience for what it is. The best part: All of them, Tom included, left the theater wanting to go to the ballet again.
What a nice Christmas present.
And on a more random closing note, why don't more men wear capes? Why don't more people wear capes? Capes are awesome. I think I want, perhaps need a cape. Maybe Lea's not the only drama queen in the family...