The talk all night had been Abigail’s first Ballet class, which would occur at 10am.
We woke up, as we always do, before seven in the morning. I made coffee, the way a robot on an assembly line makes a car, and shortly thereafter made pancakes (scratch), eggs (scratch (I know, so fancy)) and sausage (not scratch. Sorry.).
Thinking about that breakfast now is making my mouth water. The pancakes were light and fluffy and perfectly absorbant, becoming slowly infused with the pure maple syrup without losing their heavenly consistency. I put blueberries in mine, and the girls had plain. Because when I give them blueberry pancakes they eat around the blueberries and say, “Daddy, can we have normal ones?” I know, it’s…unfathomable.
After breakfast I gave them a bath, then checked the weather, and got everyone dressed. It was 9:00. As I was cleaning up breakfast I noticed that Abigail had a sad look on her face. I asked her what was wrong and she said, “Daddy, I want to go to ballet now.”
I said, “Ballet isn’t starting yet, honey. It’ll start soon, but we have to wait.”
She sighed with her entire self, her tiny shoulders raising and then collapsing, her entire body slumping. “Okay daddy.”
Time crawled by for her, and rushed past for me, and suddenly we were late.
“Lets do your hair like Princess Jasmine.”
“Okay! I want Jasmine hair! How does Jasmine do her hair?”
“In a ponytail”
She let me do it. Kate, unfortunately, did not get her hair styled. We rushed out the door. Kates hand rested in mine as we walked quickly to the street. Kate has started asking to ride on my shoulders, and she did so then, but it took me a while to understand her.
“Your showdah” she said, several times, before I caught on. I hoisted her onto my shoulders and she said, “Howd own!” at the same time that I said “Hold on!”
We walked down the street, across, past the train station to the dance hall. We rode the elevator to the third floor, because I am a lazy daddy. Abby could hardly contain herself.
“Dancers,” the teacher said, “Come sit on the blue tape, criss cross applesauce.”
“That’s you.” I said, “Go!”
She ran across the room, Katie and I found a seat against the wall.
The hour long session started with stretches:
Which were followed by tap dancing, in front of a huge mirror, and then more stretches before the ballet portion started. Katie was fascinated, I expected to have to leave when she got bored, but she sat next to me, or in my lap the entire hour, never taking her eyes off of Abigail. Occassionally she would say, “Look Daddy! Abby Dancing!” or mumble “Abby” a few times, but she never got up and tried to get Abigail, and she never got restless. This is Kate, watching Abby dance:
After Tap came the main attraction. They ran across the room on their toes (“Not stomping like an elephant!”) with their arms back (“The way a Fairy runs!”). They learned first position, and then, six feet from me, Abby did her first Plié, and I lost my composure.
I don’t know what set me off, but something about the way she reproduced the basic move, the look of happiness on her face and the knowledge that she had been wanting to do this, to do this very thing, for months…I teared up. I got choked up. I was so indescribably happy, and proud. Kate was standing next to me and I pulled her close, hugged her. I know she’ll be starting Ballet any day now, it’ll feel too soon, but if it makes her as happy as that day made Abigail, I’ll let her go. I’ll let her grow up just enough to take a pre-school Ballet class. But no more than that.
The last part of class involved jumping over a “river”. It was a a tarp, folded to a thin strip. The instructor reminded the girls to run on their toes, to keep their arms back and leap lightly over the “river”, one leg at a time. The exuberance in Abigail’s face after completing the jump speaks volumes, this is one of my favorite photos, ever:
Totally airborne, not even touching the ground, just after finishing her leap. I love the look on her face, and her reflection in the mirror. If anything that I do makes her feel like this, I’m doing a good job.
After Ballet we went to Starbucks. As we sat there drinking Coffee and Hot Chocolate, respectively, she said, “Daddy, can I go to Ballet again later?”
I said, “Of course.”
As she was saying okay, a thought struck me.
“Did you mean later today?” I asked.
“Yes. I want to go again. Maybe after we take our naps?” she asked.
I leaned over and kissed her on the top of the head.