It’s not very often you have a night so absolutely perfect you want to turn it over in your head again and again. I had a night like that last weekend, and I raced home to write it all down.
My mom’s birthday was earlier this month; as a gift, I bought tickets to take her and my four-year-old daughter Corrie to see The Nutcracker ballet. It had the makings of a special evening, of course, but I wondered if we could pull it off. My daughter loves music and dance, but she also loves wiggling and talking. Would she be interested enough in the performance to make it all the way through?
Though my daughter and I are normally jeans-and-tennis-shoes kind of girls, I decided to make our big night a girly-girl event. Thanks to a friend with an older daughter, we already had a lovely hand-me-down taffeta dress. We made a dash to the store, and I let Corrie pick out the barrette of her choosing, a three-dollar rhinestone clip that prompted her to squeal about “diamonds in my hair.”
We primped together in my bathroom. I hot-rolled her hair for the first time in her life, and (another first) I gave her a few spritzes of “Momma Squirt Stuff,” as she calls it (otherwise known as hairspray).
Corrie put on her dress and tights by herself, trying (unsuccessfully) to convince me that her hot pink Crocs would be a perfect match. We went downstairs, twirled around for the dad and the brothers, and then we headed out to pick up my mom.
Of the three of us, I couldn’t even guess which one was more excited.
We drove downtown to the performing arts center, and it was clear right away that many other moms and daughters and sisters and aunts and grandmothers had the same idea. The theater was packed with little girls in velvet, bows, and Mary Jane shoes. I fought back more than one lump in my throat, looking around at all those memories being made, and remembering when my mom first took me.
We found our seats, and Corrie sat between my mother and me. She was full of questions:
“Will the lights go out?”
“When will we see the ballerinas?”
“Can I go up on stage?”
She chattered happily until the lights finally did go out. She turned her face toward the stage. The curtain went up. Her little jaw dropped. I glanced over Corrie’s head at my mother. My mother glanced back at me. We both smiled.
Except for a few small cases of the wiggles, Corrie paid remarkably close attention to the entire production. We never had to slip out into the hallway or even break into the stash of snacks in my purse. She took in every minute of it.
So did I. I sat there in that dark theater, next to my daughter and my mother, nearly overcome by the sweetness of such a special night. And I know there’s a good chance that, at only age four, my daughter might not remember it at all.
But you can bet I will.