Last night was the ballet recital rehearsal. Little girls in ridiculous costumes paraded around the auditorium of the JCC. There were white tutus–stiff and swanlike. There were long flowing red skirts with matching ribbons in the hair. There were big girls in shimmery yellow, green and blue. Tap shoes clicked,left ballet shoes went missing, big girls applied lipstick. The air was pregnant with hairspray and sequins and hope.
And yet, for all the fancy, each girl made it clear that what they really wanted was not the spotlight or the starring role, but the eye of those sitting in folding chairs wearing rumpled work clothes. Maria was next to me, still in scrubs with a baby on one knee and another in her belly. When she walked into the room, her daughter’s face broke forth in delicious grins. Richard loosened his tie and checked his iphone, but his daughter caught his eye by waving ferociously. When I came in, I stood in the back for a while before Selam saw me. I loved being able to observe her stealthily. But when she saw me, she stopped dancing, waved and grinned, and then went to tell the dance teacher that her mommy was here–in the middle of the rehearsal!! The teacher nodded and encouraged her back to her spot. Tap, tap, tap, grin, tap, tap, tap, grin, tap, tap, tap, wave to mommy.
There is a light in children that age. They just glow from within when they are happy. And happy comes in the form of harried, rumpled and weary these days. It comes in the form of parents who show up, and by doing nothing spectacular, are instant rock stars. It’s a little intoxicating. I know it won’t last. I know someday my presence will go unacknowledged. I get it. But today, this week, this year, this is my reality…..my blessed reality.
Toni Morrison is quoted as asking parents this, “When your child walks in the room, does your face light up?”
How could it not?
I’m the lucky one.