This photo shoot was all Lupine. The very serious, dramatic expressions, the poses, the props - everything. We were on our way to her performance on Saturday and she just cut loose. (I think she had seen some of the portraits that other girls had taken, posing dramatically in their costumes so she just went with it.)
We've had an interesting couple of days. It's been a ballet rehearsal and performance marathon. And she was my only child performing – and in only one dance. I have a friend with three kids, five dances, two rehearsal times, and two performance times. Plus school. Mercy. I'm don't know how I could sustain that. (Not gracefully I suspect.)
Lupine's new tutu was so picky that she either could not perform or needed to wear something under it (a stained tank top from my underwear-making bin in the sewing room saved the day). Also the feet of the ballet tights were so uncomfortable that we had to cut them off so that the seams didn't make here scream. Her teacher is incredible and didn't bat an eye when I proposed these (less than beautiful) adaptations. So grateful for her on many levels.
And we went to the performance. And we watched. And she danced. But at the end of the performance Lupine was fidgety. I got the feeling that she was done. Last year she was beaming, captivated, and enthusiastic right through the finale. Clapping until her hands ached. This year she was… done. That's the only way I can describe it. The magic had worn off. For the finale when all of the dancers took the stage together she looked at me and said emphatically, "I'm not going up there. That is way too many people."
She was done.
When we got home she had a rough evening. It was late – bedtime late – and we still had to eat dinner. (The same rhythm happened the night before after dress rehearsal so she was already on empty.) Lupine asked for a ride in her old baby carrier that I've saved it just for these moments and a sippy cup of milk. She needed to be the baby again. To feel the comforting warmth of being held against her mama body while dinner was cooking. So I strapped he to my back and we talked softly while I prepared dinner.
Before bed I validated. "Today was very busy."
"Yes," she said, welling with tears. "And I didn't even get to play all day long." She decided that two years of ballet was enough. The busyness of performance day was just too much.
In all honesty I feel a mix of gladness that she found something to love for two years, and also a deep relief that she was done (at least for the time being) by the wee age of 5. Before she began to ask for makeup. Or questions her body. Or all of the other worries that I talked about in yesterday's post. That she was able to distill out the magic and leave it at that.
Yes, there were some challenges. I watched her concern as child in tears was still taken to the stage by her mom to dance despite her objections. I watched her cover her ears because of the too-loud music, and hide her face in my lap from the dances she didn't like. I watched her checking out the flowers that other dancers carried and wonder if she mattered as much as they did if they had so many and she had so few. I watched her physical, visual, and auditory overstim mount over the course of the weekend.
But really there was mostly magic. Ballet was where she met her best friend, a girl from another town she never would have known were it not for dance. Dancing was something she looked forward to all week for two years ("Tuesday is my favorite day because it's ballet day!") There was plenty of magic but now it's time for a break.
Lupine still chose to dance on stage with her friends on Saturday, but she's done now. She's ready to take off the picky tutu and put on some comfortable riding clothes. "Mama, if I quit ballet can we ride horses again?"
Yes baby. We can.