. . . you might cross your fingers and hope he doesn't make a scene when he actually realizes what the ballet is. And you might have to take that cookie from the mouse as a bribe for that boy and add the promise of a giant milkshake for good measure. And you might find out that having a date with your boy to the ballet is kinda funny and kinda exasperating and kinda one of your best dates ever.
I never found out what any of my three children would be. I had the first two boys and did not want to try for #3 until I was fully ready to want a child, not a girl. And I was ready. I didn't yearn for a girl. I yearned for that one missing member of our family. I knew that this would be my last baby and that's all that I hoped for: a baby. The day after my third boy, Drew, was born, as I sat in the hospital alone, I told myself that I would take just a few moments in the quiet to grieve the fact that I wouldn't have a little girl. I waited and waited for the sadness to come and it just didn't. I was a little shocked actually. I didn't feel empty or cheated or disappointed. I felt like God had completed my family exactly the way it should have been completed.
So despite my jokes about Fake Daughter, there is no real pain in my heart over not having a girl. None. But let's be honest. Though I have come to love baseball and basketball games, sword fights and nerf gun battles, I am most certainly a girl. A girl who loves some sparkle and some lace, some painted red lips and some pink pointe shoes. A girl who will squeal with delight at a ballerina twirling and leaping in the spotlight.
So it happened that we had some good friends that would be performing in the Nutcracker. All of my boys had said that they would escort me to the performance until such time as the two big ones realized that our high school basketball team would be playing its cross-town rival that very evening.
Cue Debbie Downer music.
I was thinking I really would have to take Fake Daughter, but little man stepped up and said, "I'll go with you, Mama! What is it?"
So, I mumbled about dancing and a play and seeing lots of friends on the stage and you're my favorite child ever and we'll get lots and lots of ice cream after.
That was conversation #1. Here are some samples of conversations during the performance.
Drew: "Oh, ok. Is there just like one dance thing and then the story will start?"
Me: "It has started, buddy. Remember, I said there was a lot of dancing. It's the ballet. Dancing is kinda the whole story. Just watch."
Drew: "So, is there a problem to the story because I don't see the problem?"
Me: "I'm so glad you've been paying attention to the Elements of a Story lesson at school Just watch."
Drew: "There's Stephen. And that lady from Vacation Bible School. And there's Ryan's sister right behind Katie."
Me: "See, there are people you know, see? Cool, right?"
Drew: "Yea, but I don't think I really get it."
Drew: "What's the deal with those shoes? Why are those shoes so loud?"
Me: "They're tap shoes, buddy. That's the thing with tap shoes. Isn't that awesome?"
Drew: "I guess, but they're really loud."
Drew: "I didn't know Stephen had a girlfriend. Is that girl his girlfriend?"
Me: "No, honey, it's just pretend."
Drew: "I don't think so, Mom. I'm pretty sure that's his girlfriend."
Drew: "So she's dreaming? I mean is it a good dream or a bad dream? I don't really get it. Oh, so she killed the big mouse? How did she kill it? Why is there smoke on the floor? Is there a fire? I don't really get it. That lady has a ton of makeup on. That's weird. Is she a cake? I don't really get it. Is Kari a piece of cake or is that a cookie? What is Kari?"
Me: "Oh, Drew! Isn't Mary Beth just beautiful? She's the Sugar Plum Fairy! Wasn't she just the best dancer ever? I think I'm going to cry. Did you like it?"
Drew: "Yea, it was alright. So is there a Dairy Queen close by or do we go all the way to the one by our house?"
So for this girl, there were sequins and pink and beautiful music and lipstick and long fake eyelashes and sparkling crowns. And I loved every minute, every note, every twirl, every leap. And I loved my date who sat close the whole time asking questions, but never complaining. Afterward, Dairy Queen was closed so we went to McDonald's just like all the fancy folks do after a night at the ballet.
The rest of the weekend, we went back to our real life of baseball clinics and basketball practices. On the way home after church on Sunday, my Nutcracker date asked me, "Hey, Mom, do you think you'd die if someone chopped off your arm? Wait. What about if someone chopped off your head?"
So the moral of the story is, I will keep going to see the Nutcracker every year. I'll keep joking about shopping and getting manicures with Fake Daughter, but it's all good here in Skinner World. It's just exactly the way God wants it to be. As long as no one tries to test the Would You Die if You Chopped Off Your Arm Theory.