Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Nutcracker Revelations

While watching the Nutcracker with Ranger, a crazy list of thoughts ran through my head ("like sugarplum fairies," Jim interjects):
  • Watching Ranger enjoy this ballet charms me. His pure enjoyment of the music and movement helps me remember my own blissful connection with music and dance (before adolescence and 80s pop made everything awkward and self-conscious). We bought a storybook concert version of the Nutcracker (based on a Maurice Sendak book) when Ranger turned 2, and he watched it so often that I thought he would wear out the tape.
  • Just last week, I came out to my friends as a hardcore childhood ballerina-wannabe (I don't know that anyone would guess it of me now). I adored ballet, leotards, tutus, and beribboned pointe shoes, that is until my little pink ballet flats hit the hardwood floors of actual ballet lessons. A few weeks of the basic positions convinced me that it was far more fun to leap, prance, and spin alone at home.
  • The only reason I told my friends is because both of their daughters are going through ballerina stages where they want to wear leotards around the clock. My ultra-girly 5-year-old self still has the ability to embarrass me 30 years later. Let's just call that early interest my road less taken.
  • Going to bed tonight Ranger tells Jim, "I like dancing."
    "Really?" Jim asks.
    Shrugging shoulders, "It's pretty great."
  • Ranger and I have actual debt of gratitude to Tchaikovsky. My mom was raised in a family that prohibited dancing, so it was a little surprising that my dad's plan for their first date was this holiday ballet. Despite the fact that mom's upbringing suggested the road to hell was toe-polished wood lined with sugarplum fairies, her rebellious spirit overcame those fears. She and my dad were married within a year (secretly, but that's another story).
  • About 45 years after their first date, my parents took Ranger to see a children's dance theatre production of The Nutcracker. They thought their 2-year-old grandson would drag them out the door before the end of the first act, but he sat rapt for most of the production. It means a lot to me that he and my parents enjoyed the show together as it is significant in our family history.
I wouldn't have watched this ballet alone. Ranger makes it fun for me. His interest in movement far exceeds my rather superficial ballet-obsession (which was really more about looking pretty and wearing lots pink things with ribbons and sequins). I think he might actually practice if we enrolled him in hip-hop classes.

Ranger's love for dance is deep and joyous: one friend commented at his birthday dance party that she "didn't believe in reincarnation until [she] saw Ranger dance. Elvis is with us."

For Jim and I there is great wonder in watching our child discover what makes him happy (even if it is a dream that never captured us). My mom's divergence from parental preferences reminds me that even rebellion can turn out well in the long run. What more comforting holiday story can a parent wish for?

What stories lead you wax philosophical about your family?

6 comments:

indywriter said...

I wax philosophical at the drop of a hat since I had kids... But there are a couple of big ones.

One is that my folks only moved out here from WV with the understanding that when there were jobs back home, they would move back. 41 years later, and they're still here. I wonder what my life would have been like had they gone back. I would have had the gift of my grandparents on a much more frequent basis, but I would likely never have met my husband.

Another is that when my husband and I were poor grad students, we were not trying to have children. But God decided that that was in fact the right time. I wasn't exactly thrilled with the timing at first, but when I really thought about it after Miss B was born... If anything had been even a little bit different, I never would have had this remarkable person in my life. I would love any child I would have, but I cannot imagine not knowing the wonder that is Miss B. She is such a neat, sweet blessing. I would never wish to change anything about her, but if everything hadn't happened as it did...

And finally, with Sister Goldenhair, we tried for over two years to have her. Where Miss B came almost too easily, we had to really work for SG. I wonder if I would take her for granted had she come more easily. Even once we were pregnant, there were signs that we might have a much more difficult road to travel with her. But when she was born perfectly healthy, I was so very grateful. I cherish her in a different way than Miss B. I always wanted lots of kids; but if I never have another one, I'll be okay because I was so in the moment with SG.

Francie said...

Ahhh, friend! How lovely to read your reflections on quality time with Ranger. And to learn something else about you in your childhood. I remembered stories about cute li'l cowboy boots, but I had missed all tales of tutus and sequins! :) So glad that your folks got to take him to enjoy the live production. Andy took Marjorie once, but I haven't ever gotten to share it with the children. I thought about going this year, but it didn't feel like the right time -- seemed like it would be trying to squeeze too much into an already pretty special, busy month. Hugs to you and your 3 (yes, that includes hubby) today!

Mimi-n-Moe's Mom said...

Loved this post...every bit of it! I have thought a lot about the classes, but my feelings are mixed. I love seeing my ballerina dance about and be creative, and I wonder how much she would enjoy the regimented class structure? If I enroll her in a class, it is a symbolic gesture that my baby is big....and that causes a lump in my throat....

suzanne said...

What a great post! My little guy is only 6 months, but I can't wait to take him to the Nutcracker. I wait patiently... :)

Miss X said...

No kids yet, but your post reminded me of how my baby brother went through a Nutcracker phase...he wanted to watch the ballet all the time. He was 2,3,4? I can't remember but it was so cute.

Francie said...

There's a child-friendly performance of the Nutcracker this coming Saturday in our community! Friend's 13-yr-old daughter with autism gets to dance in it & hold up the head of a great Chinese dragon -- triumph after last yr being passed over to perform by a director who didn't have eyes to see her beauty & place in the show. I'm hoping to go with 2-1/2 yr old daughter to cheer on our beloved ballerina!