Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Tutus and Tantrums

Sugar and spice and everything nice. Pink hair ribbons and ballet shoes. Bonding over ice cream and passing on my love for shoes. These are the things I envisioned when my daughter was born. I did not imagine that one day she would hate me or speak to me with such venom in her voice, as if I was the Worst Person on the Face of the Planet.

So she’s 13 and hormonal. So what? I get it. I have hormones. PMS is the bane of my existence. For at least a week out of the month I wish I lived in a different body. I don’t, however, respond to every question I am asked with hatred and condescension. My daughter does. A simple request to unload the dishwasher is met with a litany of proof of how that will ruin her life. She has homework, ballet practice, a test to study for, a life to live which does not include unloading the dishwasher at that exact moment in time. How dare I be so mean and cruel as to ask her to take five minutes out of her day to do something responsible to help me? I know. Worst Parent of the Year, right here. Damn me to hell.

That’s why this past weekend came as a surprisingly refreshing relief. Nutcracker weekend is pretty much my least favorite weekend of the year. It’s filled with hours of rehearsals, playing taxi to drive her to the “theater”, gift preparation for the other girls in her group, and a very exhausted, very depressed, very let-down child at the end of it all. Saturday morning she is literally high on adrenalin and the crash on Sunday coming down from it is painful just to watch.

I expected tantrums and diva behavior. I dreaded this year more than previous years precisely because of her thirteen-ness. I tried to head it off by reminding her of how much work it is, for me too, and that we would get through it with less scars if we could be nicer to each other. By we, of course, I meant her. And she knew it. She apologized in advance saying that sometimes she just wants to cry for no reason. I said yes, I understand. Wait until you have PMS and the feeling is at least 100 times worse. We bonded. Yay for being girls.

For the most part the weekend was a success. There was one small setback. I got a glimpse of the diva monster when I dared make a suggestion of how best to shower without washing her hair. It was over quicker than usual and I was so grateful that I didn’t point out how I was right in the first place. Even though I was and an acknowledgment would have been really nice. But, you know, whatever….

The rest of the weekend she was her little girl self that I so love. Only not so little anymore. She’s growing up. It’s odd to actually see her growth through the progression of her ballet roles. She started as a tiny mouse and even the polka girls and clowns looked so young to me. So young and silly and carefree. She’s still silly but she’s starting to lose some of her carefree spirit. I’m sad and proud at the same time. This was her first year on pointe and the first time she’s ever said she was nervous before a performance. Her first butterflies. Even when she complained that her toes felt like they were being cut from her feet, it didn’t come out as a whine. It was more of a statement of how proud she was of herself, a battle wound to be worn proudly.

As for me, I sat up a little straighter when she stepped out onto the stage. I watched her lightness on her toes and the smile on her face. I saw the young lady she is becoming and in that moment, I saw everything exactly as I had imagined it.


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