Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Ballet, or, All's Well that Ends

Remember Monday's post, when I told you that I had been insanely busy last week? It's because not only was I planning Syd's birthday party for that Friday (you will not be surprised to learn that Syd plans VERY elaborate birthday parties), but I'd also finally heeded the increasingly desperate mass emails from the director of Syd's ballet program and volunteered to help backstage at the dress rehearsals and the performance of the spring recital--a rendition of Coppelia, of all things.

I'd volunteered to help the littlest dancers, ages 3-7, so that I wouldn't be backstage while Syd was dancing, but wow--little kids and their parents! The kids have to be dropped off with the volunteers, as we've got background checks and the parents don't, and there are never enough volunteers, so for two hours at a time we're signing kids in, getting their costume pieces on, taking them to the bathroom, keeping them entertained, taking them to the bathroom, getting up two stories to backstage, trying not to lose them in the dark, getting them to their places, getting them back down to the dressing room without losing them, taking them to the bathroom, divesting them of their costume pieces, taking them to the bathroom, and getting them back to their parents.

And those parents! The first-time parents! The fretful parents! The confused parents! And those kids! The kids who always had to pee! The kid who kept hitting her ballet teacher in the boobs! The kid who, as we were sitting backstage, waiting for his turn to dance, turned to me and said, contemplatively, "You know, I thought that I wanted to be a ballet dancer, but I actually don't."

I explained to him that after Sunday afternoon, he could absolutely not be a ballet dancer anymore, if he so chose, but right now, he was 100% a ballet dancer, so scoot out onto that stage, Buddy!

And while we're on the subject, let's just pause right here to give a special shout-out to the parents who brought a tray of sticky chocolate candies as a "treat" for the small children on recital day.

The small children who wear white leotards with white skirts. Half of them are probably allergic to whatever is in the candy. The other half probably aren't allowed to have sugar.

I'm not even ashamed to tell you that those treats?

I hid them behind the piano.

Anyway, although it was an adventure and I was glad to be backstage in Syd's world for a bit, I did not expect how utterly exhausted and brain-dead I would be after corralling small children and handling their parents every night, and that is why the thing that I am about to tell you about happened.

It was Thursday evening. Syd and I had been in ballet rehearsal since 5:30, and we were finally done at 8:30. We drove home, discussing along the way what still needed to be done for her birthday party the next evening (short answer: everything). As I pulled into the driveway at 8:57, I noted that all the lights in the house were off, and thought, "Huh. Where's Willow?"

And then I remembered. She was at the library. Which closes at 9:00. A twenty-minute drive from here. And I WAS SUPPOSED TO PICK HER UP.

I'd dropped her off with Matt at 5:00, for him to take to horseback riding, and he was going to let her go to the library after that while he did some last-minute party shopping, and I was going to pick her up after ballet rehearsal, since I drove right by the library on the way home!

Oh, and my phone is basically non-functioning.

I debated peeling out and racing for the library right then, but instead decided to race inside first, to my computer, and message my friend who's always online. She immediately replied that she'd call Matt for me, and that she, too, would race for the library, since she lives closer than I do. That done, I bolted back to the car and DID peel out, and sped at a shocking speed back into town. Frankly, I was hoping that a police car would pull me over, so that I could explain where my kid was and get them to send a patrol car over to the library.

Would you like to know what was going through my mind as I drove back to the library? Here are a few topics: We live in a college town, so every now and then a young woman goes missing and/or is murdered. Could Will outrun a murderer? No. We live in a college town, so every now and then a young man rapes a young woman. Could Will outrun a rapist? No. Or perhaps a librarian discovered her before a murderer/rapist could. Would they call the police and tell them that someone had abandoned their child? Would the police give her back to me if they did so? Damn it, when I told Will the name of my friend who's a foster parent, and instructed her to have that person called to come get her if she was ever snatched by Social Services, I'd been kidding! But at least then she wouldn't be murdered!

I ended up tearing into the parking lot just behind the minivan driven by my friend. We both threw open our car doors, called out for Will, and then that very kid, who was kicked back casually against the limestone wall of the library, next to the door, a stack of books at her feet, looked up from the book she'd been reading and was all like, "Oh, hey!"

Not. Fussed. At. All.

As I forcibly embraced Will, who was frowning because I had lost her place in her book, and began to thank my friend, a SECOND friend came peeling up. My first friend had thought to call her because this second friend drives Uber and was possibly downtown. I thanked them all very sincerely, and then took my kid back home, occasionally reaching behind my seat to clutch her leg and make sure that she was still there.

I asked Will, "What would you have done if it had been a long time later and I still hadn't shown up?"

She replied, "I had six books with me. Someone would have remembered me eventually."

I don't doubt this is true. But I don't *think* that I was overreacting. I mean, right? Although she is almost twelve. Can twelve-year-olds hang out alone? I haven't thought about it. If we'd still been living in our old neighborhood, I'd have been letting her walk alone to the library and back for over a year now. But loitering in an empty parking lot is totally different from moving with purpose down a sidewalk. BUT when I was twelve, I definitely remember loitering in empty parking lots with my friends. But *I* didn't have enough supervision.

But clearly neither does she...

Regardless, from now on when I'm busy and distracted AND have to pick a kid up from somewhere, I'm writing myself a note on my hand!

Fortunately, there were no more forgotten kids for the entire rest of the week. No kids were lost at Syd's birthday party, which went really, really, REALLY well, and no kids were lost during the ballet recital, although I did have to hold the hands of a couple of children and walk them onto the stage, because as soon as they caught sight of the audience, they basically began backing against my knees, saying, "No, no, no, no!" I was all, "Nope! Too late now!" and towed them onstage.

They were fine.

And here's my own little dancer!
Sneaky action photography in a darkened auditorium is hard, yo!

After the recital, it's become my tradition to have a photo shoot on campus, mostly of the ballet dancer, because she's the one who likes it the most, but I'll also snap as many pictures as I can of anyone else who'll let me.

This one let me a little bit.
But mostly it was this one who wanted to be photographed.

I'm dressed like a stage hand, not a bank robber!
Matt snapped this photo. It's pretty typical--all of us with our mouths open, talking at the same time, and one of us frowning and possibly about to throw a fit.
I keep expecting the ballet director to finally realize that MY child is clearly the most talented and special child in the program.
I mean obviously, right?
I know very little about ballet, but even I can see how deeply talented she is!
Don't tell anyone that I said so, but she's also the cutest one in the program.
All right, we'll let Matt get in some photos, too!


When I wrote the title of this post, I thought that ballet had ended for the year, but now I hear that Syd actually wants to do the Summer Intensive session, as well...

Look for another set of post-performance portraits in a month or so, I guess!

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