Julie Lyles Carr: Barfin' Ballerinas, Batman!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Barfin' Ballerinas, Batman!

2 of 8 is our resident dancer, and not just kinda.  She's a dancer's dancer.  She has that dancer's walk that ironically looks a bit like a duck waddle mixed with all kinds of grace and muscle tone.  She's got LONG dancer's hair that is usually twisted up in an enormous bun.  She routinely sits in the middle of the family room in various ligament and joint-defying positions, stretching her splits into impossible flexibility.  And to see her on stage is just inspiring--and I'm not just saying that 'cuz I'm The Mama.

She set a goal of auditioning for a prestigious dance company this summer.  We moved last year (5 weeks before the twins were born--but that's a whole other adventure...) to a large urban area with a renown professional dance company which hosts a summer intensive each year, bringing in young dancers from across the country.  2 of 8 said that while she wasn't sure she would get in, she thought the experience of auditioning would be good for her (she's wacky mature like that--I don't even like to enter raffles because I might get disappointed.)  She learned within a few weeks that she had been accepted and looked forward to this new experience.

The summer intensive is a 3 week program which culminates in a bevee of three performances by the dancers on the final day.  2 of 8 faithfully went to bed early, got up early and made her way downtown each day, dancing numerous hours, fine tuning her technique, taking instruction and critique.  She made new friends, experienced downtown life, attended lectures and loved it all.

Friday morning dawned, the day of the performances, the last day of the intensive.  2 of 8 woke feeling pretty poorly, but to form, sucked it up, got in the car with 1 of 8 and headed for the studio.  On the way there, she lost her breakfast (classy euphemism for 'puked up her Post cereal), regained her composure, got into the studio, lost the last vestiges of breakfast and dressed out for her first class.  Her classmates noticed that she looked wane.  She let them know that she had been sick but was doing okay and would just take it a little easier during the warm-up prior to the performance shows.  As the class was about to begin, one of her classmates whispered, "Whatever you do, DON'T tell the teacher you threw up! They won't let you dance if they know!"

The teacher entered the class to begin the warm-up and 2 of 8 let her know that she would not dance full out, but would be conserving her energy.  The teacher looked at 2 of 8's countenance and asked the question:
"Have you thrown up?"

And 2 of 8....told the truth.

As parents we want to shield our kids from hurt, from bullies, from the bumps and bruises that can accompany friendships, expectations, dreams and the like.  And yet, I find that where I squirm in my mommy skin the most is when my kids are going to experience a disappointment or hurt because they are going to do the right thing.  We know that doing the right thing can result in alienation, expense, loss of face, peer rejection...and yet it still seems to mess with my foot-stomping sense of "It's just not fair!"  when one of the kids makes the right moral choice and in that moment has to pay a price.

2 of 8 told the truth.
And she paid a price.

Her teacher's eyes welling with tears, 2 of 8 was told that according to company policy, 2 of 8 would not be able to perform.  Her classmates looked on in shock that 2 of 8 would have responded so directly to the question, but as 2 of 8 told me, "I wasn't going to lie."  The teacher had asked her directly.  And so she answered in kind.

2 of 8 was sad, of course.  There were a few tears.  We scrambled to get one of us downtown to get her home.  She was told that she could come back to view one of the performances.  She came back to the house, got dressed up and returned to the performance venue, because, quote, she wanted to support her friends.  I sat home and pouted a little more for her.

I would love to claim that my impeccable parenting has resulted in this kind of behavior...but in a moment of ironic honesty, I have to say that had I been in her position, I probably would have lied.  I would have thought of the effort and finances that had gone into preparing for the performance.  I would have decided it wasn't a 'full-out' vomit, just sort of an 'urping'.  I would have decided it was a fluke, a non-contagious situation, a justifiable edit of history.  I would have wanted the performance more.

2 of 8 has chosen the better thing.  I know that her integrity will be rewarded, that there will be blessing that extends beyond a Friday performance of a summer ballet intensive.  She is storing up treasure, one honest vomit at a time.

I think I want to be like 2 of 8 when I grow up.
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