Monday, December 21, 2015

The Nutcracker: A Parenting Lesson

I have a very fond memory of my first trip to see the Nutcracker ballet with my mom and my friend Bethany. I don't remember how old I was, but I remember it being special. I thought this year I'd actually read alloud my old copy of the Nutcracker to Olivia and then surprise her with tickets to see the ballet. 
First of all the book and ballet are very different. I didn't recall how dreadfully frightening the book is. A seven headed demon mouse?! Ryan said "that is straight out of Revelations!" Of course after two chapters, my daughter starts having nightmares about bloody toy battles and "a thousand eyes shining in the dark" we had to alter the plan. I edited a lot of the reading AND we only read it in the day time NOT before bed. It's quite a long book. But she was fascinated by the story and did want to read it. So we continued on and made it through the end...which was much less traumatizing but possibly ends with a child bride. Who cares after multi headed rodents though!
Olivia has had the Nutcracker CD for awhile and knew it was a ballet. She heard commercials for it on the radio and asked if we could go sometime and that made me excited for the surprise I had coming for her. We watched a few numbers on Youtube and she would say "I wish we could go to a ballet." When we finished reading the book I told her I had an early gift for her and that we were going to go see the Nutcracker ballet! I didn't expect jumping up and down or anything from her, but I definitely did NOT expect her frown of utter disdain that appeared on her face. She said some rude 6 year old sentiment along the lines of "That's not really a gift." And I had to leave the room a minute to remind myself she's 6, and not an ungrateful brat. (Right? Please someone back me up that I haven't failed completely yet!) When she had more time to think about it and ask questions and talk about it she got more excited. Especially when she asked if she could wear lipstick because it was a special event and I said yes!
She really was happy about it, I think she was just expecting a "gift" to be something you can unwrap. And like most people, unmet expectations for her can cause a negative reaction. So I explained on the way there that sometimes the best gifts aren't ones to unwrap. I asked her if she remembered what she got for Christmas when she was 4? Or even 5? No she did not. I told her next year she probably wouldn't remember any of her presents from this year either, but she MIGHT just remember her first time at a ballet. And spending time doing something special with her mommy just like I remember doing something special with mine is much more important than some ole toy that will be forget in a few months time. (Cue the violin Full House type music) And then in typical Olivia fashion she said, "I'm sorry, Mom......But if you had told me all of that ahead of time I wouldn't have ever had a pouty face!" Touche' my dear, touche.' 
She does love going to theatrical events so I knew she'd like it even though she didn't know what to expect out of a ballet. The first act she kept whispering "When are they going to talk? Why do they just keep dancing?" But once she realized the gist of it we sat back and enjoyed the costumes and music and show! 
We got a special ballerina ornament afterward and she was thrilled to see some of the real ballerinas in the lobby. And she wanted her picture taken with the ones who were close to her age.
Even one of those creepy mice!
She decided at the end of it that she prefers plays or musicals where there is more talking BUT she also danced and twirled the entire way to the car. She's been playing the CD ever since and dancing around the house in her fanciest costumes so maybe JUST maybe this memory will live on in her mind too. 
It took a long time to get to the car because she had to twirl down each stair!
I think this was a gift the both of us will remember for awhile, for many different reasons!


Heather Askew said...

love this post and have been there so many times, you captured it so well (and you are a wonderful mom so stay away from thinking anything else) I remember a year with Ava not long ago we planned this whole scavenger hunt for her bigger Christmas gift, complete with video clues, Ryan and I were so excited and it ended terribly with a major melt down. Ask Annaleise about the mini van express ticket night from a year or two ago :) Seems we've all had those moments, you get props for leaving the room, I can't always hold my tongue that well :)

kmom said...

I notice memories can differ from reality a bit. The way I remember it, by the time you went with Bethany and me, you were in upper elementary or junior high. I think you had been at least once if not twice before. Probably the first time, you went with Dad, me, and Amy. It is a beautiful, magical ballet and the only one I remember going to. The important thing is that you have wonderful memories and don't mind sharing them. Love, Mom

Ryan and Katie said...

Ha possibly! I have no memories of going with dad and Amy but you don't seem to either since you said "probably"! If only you'd had a blog back then. Now when adult Liv has fuzzy memories we can come back and see what REALLY happened ;)

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