Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

My father was in the Navy after he graduated from college. It was during the Korean war. My grandfather swore my dad never would have grown up had it not been for the Navy. Nice try, but he really never DID grow up, which was one of the magical things about him, one of the many reasons his children adored him, and why he was, indeed, the world's greatest pediatrician.

The flag from my dad's funeral is among my prized possessions.

My step-father, Charlie, is one of the most fascinating people on the planet. He is a psychologist by trade and has voluntarily devoted much of his free time to veterans' affairs. He testifies before Congress on a regular basis, is interviewed by CNN and other news organizations as an expert on WWII, POW/MIA/VA issues as well as post traumatic stress disorder. He is invited to the White House on a regular basis (but refused to go during our former president's last term) and was instrumental in pushing forward the WWII memorial in D.C. His passion for this work comes from the fact that he, himself, was a prisoner of war during WWII. He walks with difficulty, not because of his age, but because he was pushed off of a moving train by the Nazis. The stories he tells of how he survived in captivity keep you on the edge of your seat. He has every right to be a little bitter, but he is far from it. He is incrediby unassuming and defines a hero in my book.

So for my dad and for Charlie and the millions of men and women who have served or currently serve in our armed forces, enjoy your family, your friends and your freedom today.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I'm Still That Mom

I'm that mom. You know, the one I've talked about before. The one that shows up to school events sweaty, in spandex, sporting pigtails and bandanas while the other moms show up in perfume, pearls and heels with perfectly coiffed hair. I'm the one that can't make it to Starbucks to hang out every week because I'm taking the peanut for a slog in the jogger, teaching spin, taking Strike or practicing yoga. I'm also that mom at the dance studio. I have even been known to go for a run on site between rehearsals and recitals, but I promise I clean up OK for the actual performances.

Between recitals on Sunday, Exhibit A took a nasty spill on the steps leading to the balcony. She had an impressive scrape, bump and bruise on her shin. She still had two recitals to go and I knew it had to have hurt. I gave her the appropriate amount of sympathy, told her not to take "break a leg" quite so literally, got a smile from her then wished her luck for the last shows of the weekend.

She danced like an angel the rest of the afternoon, with the passion and energy she always brings forth. She was on cloud 9 at her celebratory dinner out but once at home, I noticed that she was walking across the floor. Now this may not sound all that unusual, but it is important to understand that when The Prima moves from point A to point B, she typically throws in at least one twirl, leap, battement or chassé. I asked her how her leg was feeling and she stopped and looked right at me. She told me it was painful and that it had been during her performances. I told her one never would have guessed. She responded with the following statement:

"I got through it. I just thought to myself of all the times when you hurt so bad but you keep on going. You don't let it slow you down. You even ride your bike for a lot of miles and you never disappoint people that count on you for stuff."

And with that, she said goodnight, turned away and disappeared upstairs while I stood there utterly touched and utterly speechless.

So it seems that now, more than ever before, I am OK with being that mom.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Recital Highlights

It's funny how once upon a time I was the mother who dreaded having to sit through an entire recital when my kid was only a part of it for 5 minutes. Now I sit through six recitals and enjoy it more and more every year. I am easily annoyed and crankified by the people who leave right after their kid's performance. I secretly hope that some day their precious angel's number is last and she has to perform to a less than full auditorium. I can't help it. I am, afterall, an evil princess.

Speaking of princesses, Exhibit A performed flawlessly this weekend. There's not much else to say. I can't believe how far she's come in just a year and what a pleasure it is to see the passion and energy she puts into each show, coming home utterly spent but ready to get up and do it all over again the next day. She's beginning to do her own hair and make-up and, while in some ways this thrills me, in others it reminds me that I am seeing not only a physical transformation before my eyes but also a social and emotional one.

There were many highlights from this weekend, too many too count, but here are a few favorites:

It's always fun to watch the 3 & 4 year olds as they take to the stage for the very first time. They are unpredictable and you can usually count on at least one or two of them to just kinda stand there, bored to tears, looking at all the other little girls with a "WTF?" expression on their faces while the others dance around them. One kinderdance number, however, was absololutely priceless. Thse little itty bitty girls, all sassed out in sparkles and tutus, pill box hats and tap shoes danced their tiny hearts out to the song "Thank Heaven for Little Girls". Right before their last combination, the curtain opens and their fathers are standing there in suits/ties. All at once, the dads crouch down to catch their little girls with big hugs to end the number. Thank heaven, indeed.

During day 2, the pre-teen and teen acrobatics classes had to perform in every show (and they performed once on day 1). On day 2 they ditched the CD and had a live keyboardist/singer on stage with them. Incredible.

There are a few highly accomplished resident choreographers that teach at A's dance school. The companies peformed several of their most recent award winning pieces and they didn't disappoint.

The finale of each performance was a complete surprise to the kids. Little did they know, all of the instructors put together a little sump'n sump'n of their own. It was ridiculously funny yet still showcased what amazing talent they all have. They used the song Circus by Brit Brit and each dressed up as a caricature circus freak... errrr, I mean performer. Seeing Mrs. M, who has been teaching classical ballet for 30+ years doing some hip hop moves and the sprinkler was priceless. For the benefit of those of us who were at every show, they made it a little bit different every single time so we never knew exactly what to expect. The more times they did it, the more comical it became. By the end, the director of the school was tap dancing while hula hooping (around her neck, even) and the modern teacher who had been unable to be involved in recitals due to a back injury was wrapped in caution tape and wheeled out to the stage to take part in the hilarity. It was so much fun and, as you can imagine, the parents and kids alike were completely wow'ed.