Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Nutcracker Not So Suite

For our Christmas gift this year, my dad asked if we'd like to have tickets to see The Nutcracker.
Of course I said yes.
I'd wanted to take the girls for years.

I had visions of my four darling daughters all dressed up in their finest - Hair curled in perfect ringlets that had been sprayed so heavily they looked like they were made of wood - Eyes sparkling, cheeks rosy as they watched the ballet.
Who wouldn't want that?

The night of the performance, I spent an hour pulling on their tights and smoothing down their hair. I broke up fights over the gray hair flower and buttoned their coats up all the way.

As we grabbed the keys to the van and headed out, Justin asked,
"So what's this we're seeing? Is it a ballet?"

I guess they don't have ballets under the rock where he lives.

As soon as we got in the car Tessa asked where we were going. She always asks where we're going.
As if she had been outside of her own body the entire time we were just getting ready talking about going to the Nutcracker.

"We're going to see The Nutcracker, Honey."
"Wait....... Right NOW?!"
"Yes. Right now."

There was excitement in the air as we pulled in and saw all the cars.

"There's a spot, Daddy. There's another one. There's one. I see another spot. Why are you passing all the spots, Daddy?"
Tessa announced that this was definitely the place because she could "read that big sign."

As we got out and Justin unbuckled Paige from her car seat, he looked at me and asked,
"Are we crazy for bringing a one year old to the ballet?"
Little did we know,
That would become the question of the night.

"No." I answered. Perhaps a little over-confident.
"The Nutcracker is for families. A family Christmas tradition."

We filed inside and spent a solid 20 minutes trying to get a family photo in front of the big Christmas tree.
Paige, refusing to be depicted with us as is her way, tried to make a break for it out the emergency exit.

Justin's face in all the photos looks as his face does in every family photo.
Like he needs a pain killer for sharp colon pain.

We smiled and re-smiled and re-adjusted our positions and wrangled Paige until finally some lady tapped me on the shoulder and asked,
"Are you taking a picture here?"
We are ATTEMPTING. No promises. Geez. Hold your horses, Maam.
FYI - The base of a tree is round.
There's plenty of tree circumference for us all.

As we headed to the balcony to find our seats, I spotted a long line leading to a beautiful woman dressed in ballet finery.
Dozens of little girls were goign up to say hello and have their picture taken.
We got into line and waited.
We waited and waited and waited - just INCHING forwards - until they flickered the lights to let us know the show was about to begin.
"Mommy? Are we going to miss the show?"

Finally it was our turn and Chloe and Tessa ran up to see her, where they were immediately blocked in football style by a Russian man with a camera demanding to know if we had our tokens.
What tokens?
No. We just want to see the fancy lady.
Apparently one must have paid $20 for a token to even come NEAR that particular fancy lady.
I made a face at the kids that said, "Touch her quickly and run."
For $20, I'll buy a costume and dress up at home and we can take photos all the livelong day.
Off we went up the stairs.

Our trip took a little longer than other people's as Paige refused to hold anyone's hand and wanted to make the trip on her own.
All three flights of it.
She stopped to fondle the fine art on every wall.
She stuck her head out the railing and almost didn't get it back.
(That kid has one large noggin. Come to think of it - she is not unlike the shape of a Nutcracker, herself....)

Finally we had arrived - Seated in a sea of little girls and excited faces.
We settled in, snapped a few photos of ourselves,
and the lights dimmed.
When the music started, Chloe and Tessa looked like they were witnessing true magic. This was it. This was what I had dreamed of.

Paige - Not so much.
I have never, myself, thought of The Nutcracker as a heavy metal show, but who am I to judge an individual's take on art?
Within seconds, Paige was on her feet in her chair head banging to beat the band.
At the end of every song, she'd stand applauding and shouting "Yay! Hooray! I'll sing!"
She was REALLY enjoying it. So much so that several times, her excited little booted feet kicked the chair in front of her causing the old woman who was sitting there to turn around in complete disdain.
She looked like she possibly thought of children more as an INGREDIENT than a true life's joy.

Justin and I passed Paige back and forth like a relay even though she had her own seat. Of course she didn't want her own seat. That seemed boring. She'd rather scale our laps and wildly and violently shake my jingly necklace to the music with one hand while she reached down my shirt to her elbow with the other.

At least Chloe and Tessa were enjoying it.

That is, until The Bride of Hagrid showed up and sat directly in front of Tessa.

I don't know what it is. Some Rule of the Universe - If you put a child in a seat, a tall 300 pound adult with a large poof of hair is going to sit in front of them.
It's fact.

Now Tessa was on her feet in her seat, completely blocking the view of the people behind her.
"Tessa. You have to sit down."
"But I can't SEEEEEEEEEE."

Justin pulled her on his lap and all was fine for a total of 6 minutes when again she appeared at my side crying, trying to scale the part of my lap that was not already taken up with a head banging, necklace jingling Paige.
"What's the matter?"
"Daddy got mad at me because I'm thirsty. *sob*"
"Honey! I asked you 10 minutes ago if you needed to go potty or get a drink and you said no."
"But I am NOWWWWWWW. I need a drink really BAAAAAD."
"You're going to have to wait."
I said
- Well - I TRIED to say that.
It came out sounding like I'd stuffed my mouth with felt, because at this point,
Paige was standing on my lap with her entire torso pressed into my face asking the lady behind her for a pen.

I looked to my right to check on Chloe who was silent. She was entranced in the dancing.
Entranced with her knees up and her entire crotch exposed like an open book to the crowd below.

You get a special view when you pay for the good seats.

At this point now, Paige is screaming trying to get the attention of the "Mousey."
This, following her screaming, "GIRL DIE! GIRL DIE!" into the crowd.
I'm sure that sounded offensive to everyone who didn't know that she was meaning, "girl cry" in response to the ballerina crying because her nutcracker had broken its arm.

This was my cue.
It was time.
I could hold her still no longer.
As Tessa still cried over her devastating dehydration, and as Chloe flashed the crowd, I hoisted Paige over my shoulder and carried her to the back.

To the back with the approximately 8 other parents who were doing exactly the same thing with their toddlers.
We exchanged knowing looks of solidarity.

Now Paige was as happy as a clam.
She was quiet now, too, because she was free.
In one swift second, after I had put her down and as I turned to look back at Tessa, however, Paige had located the usher podium and was in the process of a program heist.
That punk, for no reason other than to create a good old fashioned chase scene, tucked about 30 programs under her left arm and ran for it.
Mind you, she was still QUIET.
She was a juvenile delinquent,
but she was quiet.

As she made her way back around the loop and came close to her starting point, I snatched her up and handed the usher back her programs.
At that very moment, in a move I did not see coming, That usher opened the door to the hall and all but shoved us out into it.
I blinked.
I was stunned, but I had been heading there with her anyway, so I didn't protest.
I joined a dad out there who had a son that was wailing.
The dad looked at me like he was begging me to shoot him cleanly and quickly.
Paige pointed at the little boy and laughed.
"Haha. A boy a DIE."

"Yes, Honey. The baby is CRYING." I said loudly,
in case the dad was worried she was some sort of voodoo master putting a hex on his son.

Sorry, Dude. I can't control pronunciation.

And this is when it started.

Suddenly, there was a different usher coming towards the dad and his son.
"You know," she said, "Maybe you son would really love to go downstairs and watch the show on the big TV we have in the entryway."
The dad did not respond.
"It's these same dancers. It's live. It's right down the stairs." She said in her very non-subtle way.
The dad got up and walked away, never to be seen again.

Right now, Paige was climbing the stairs, then going back down, then climbing again, then descending again. Not a sound. Just a smile and the climbing.
I smiled at her until I saw it....

Oh no.
That usher was coming for ME.
Was she about to suggest that I take her away, too?
Even though we had purchased tickets just like every other person in this whole theater? Paige even had her own SEAT. Not even a lap child.
She was a certified theater attendee.
"Maam, May I suggest that you might like to do the same thing that I told the gentleman about?"
"You mean for us to go to the entryway? If I wanted to watch it on TV, I probably would have stayed at home, right?"
"Well it's these same dancers. It's live. It's right down the stairs."

This is when I got upset.
I was already missing the show.
I had already been poked and jingled and cried on and blamed for child torture through dehydration.
Now I wasn't even allowed to sit in the STAIRWAY?
I'd put on fresh make-up for this!

I took Paige's hand and walked her for a bit.
We wandered down the hall and found a large walnut statue that Paige aptly named "A Guy A Boobies."
We spent a full half hour sitting by, holding hands with, and touching A Guy A Boobies.

Then it was intermission.

We made our way back to our door and waited for Justin and the other girls to exit. The girls came out super excited. They were loving it.
We stood there for a second talking about the dancing and the costumes. My mood lightened.

And that's when I heard it.

Usher #1 approached Usher #2 and said very loudly as she looked out into the sea of kids, especially towards me,
"There really IS an appropriate age to bring children to these things. I just don't get it. It's not like it's a SCHOOL FUNCTION. I mean, there are ADULTS here who would like to watch the show."

My eyeballs felt pressure from the backsides.
My right shoulder did a weird little twitch.
Justin was talking to me about something and suddenly I couldn't even hear his voice.
He saw The Look.
"Kerri. Just let it go." He said.

And I usually do.
I've been cut off in traffic and pushed around in stores.
I've been surrounded by rude people. I've ignored people before who cut in front of my children and never ever say they're "Sorry" or "Excuse me," but would come unglued if my kids did that to them -
I've sat silently before, but this.....

"Nope. I'm goin' in."
I said, and I started marching.

Me and my pile of 5 coats and two water bottles and my purse and my jingly necklace marched right up the stairs to that usher that had pushed us out the door and I leaned in really close and creepy like and said,

"You know - I just needed to tell you. I heard you talking about those of us that have children here. I think it is EXTREMELY rude for you to be talking about us like that when we are most likely the reason you even have a paycheck. Am I right? Every single child ticket in here cost just as much as the adult tickets. People save all year to bring their families to this. The Nutcracker is a FAMILY event. It's about TOYS for goodness sake. You might want to look around you and realize that over half the people here are children and maybe next time you should do that before you open your big mouth and offend people around you who could have your job."

She blinked at me and mumbled an "OK."

I turned and stormed off, grabbing Paige's hand and dragging her as she barked requests to see the "Boobies again."

Justin called out after me to slow down and another usher appeared to ask me if something was the matter.
I let her know that something definitely WAS the matter and somehow left that door after telling my story with a free water bottle for my trouble. (?)

"Here, Tessa. Here's your water."

Let me tell you - Visions of sugar plums was NOT what was dancing around in MY head.
It's a good thing I cannot be held accountable in a court of law for what WAS.

When intermission ended, I told Justin to take the older girls back in and I'd just stay out with Paige.

I wasn't even going to fight it.
She was happy in the hall.
That, AND I didn't want to face that usher again.

For the entirety of the second half, Paige and I sat in the lounge in the women's bathroom and took pictures of each other.

People would come in and smile and comment on how cute she was and that it looked like we were having fun.

And we were.
We actually truly were.

Especially Paige, who was now laying down on the bathroom floor looking up her own dress from eight different angles in the full length mirror.

After it was over, as we filed out of the theater that night, I noticed all the other parents.
Eyes wide and traumatized, Hair a little more scraggly than when they'd gone in, most other moms looked like their necklaces had been jingled, too.
The dads all looked like they just wanted to get home and have a drink. On the rocks.
I passed the Fancy Lady Token Taker Nazi and almost stuck out my tongue.

We got into the car.
"NOW where are we going?" Asked Tessa.
"Home. We are going home. Possibly to never leave again." I said.

When all was said and done, and we crawled into bed last night, Justin told me he was sorry I'd had to miss the ballet.
I said, "Yeah. Well at least the other two girls loved it and were well behaved."

"Yeah. I GUESS." He said.
"What do you mean, you guess?" I asked.
"Well, At one point I looked over at Chloe and she was licking her entire hand an arm like an animal. I whispered to her to ask her what on EARTH she was doing and she just shrugged her shoulders and licked one more time."


I guess all those visions of perfectly coiffed little girls in fancy dresses at the ballet just isn't realistic for my family.

I mean, if you've seen one ballet, you've seen them all, right?
At least that's what I told myself.

Last night I was part of a different kind of dance.

An even BETTER dance called

A Guy A Boobies and A Bathroom Lounge.