I looked carefully at the piece of paper in my hand
“This is ridiculous!” I grumbled. “I’m going to be going back and forth all day. Drop off at 9am. Pick up at 11am. Drop off again at 12.45pm. First show at 2.30. Second show at 5.30.”
“Yes, it is pretty hard core,” commented Clare wife busying herself with her getting my son’s breakfast ready.
“Look at this!” My indignation was not spent. “It says we have to pack her ballet costume, black leggings, packed lunch, brown hairclips, named hairbrush, some books and toys.”
Clare glanced over my shoulder and gave me a reassuring, if slightly patronising pat on the back.
“They’re only little. It’s just a kiddies’ ballet show, not the Bolshoi.”
Yes, it was my little daughter’s first ballet performance and despite my bad humour, I knew that I had to get on with it and infect her with some fake enthusiasm because despite my cynicism, she was really excited.
So, that day I dropped her off for dress rehearsals and came home. I then went to collect her and came home. We all had lunch. I then took her back to the theatre and came home. Picked up my son and wife and took them to the theatre and then brought them home after the show. I then went back for the second performance (they did a matinee and an early evening performance).
The show itself was two hours long with an interval. There were 18 acts, not counting the finale which included all the dancers. Including the finale my daughter was in two of the acts. Halfway through the second viewing of the grade 1 ballet class prancing around to the theme from Pirates of the Caribbean, I was seriously thinking I might have a case to take my suffering to the European Court of Human Rights – surely this was a cruel and unusual torture.
And then, my daughter came on stage. For the second performance of the day, I was sitting in the front row and she saw me straight away. She broke out into a huge smile and gave me a delightful wave, completely ignoring the simple but clearly unfathomable ballet moves she was supposed to be doing. Then when she came on for the finale with the other 200 dancers (yes 200 of them!) that had taken part in the show, she smiled and waved at me throughout.
After the end of the show, the little ballet stars slowly filtered their way back onto stage, now changed back into their normal clothes. Meri came to the edge of the stage and I picked her up and lifted her into the air: Margot Fonteyn to my Rudolf Nureyev. She giggled and wriggled, delighted with her day.
By the time we got home it was eight o’clock in the evening. She was knackered and so was I. Our day had started 12 hours earlier. 12 hours of investment for 12 minutes on stage. Was it worth it? Yes but don’t ask me to do it again because I’ve got a really good lawyer on speed dial.
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