Snatch that Wonder

Today Charlie, my perennial ballet date, and I picked up my mom and went to see The Nutcracker. I have been looking forward to this afternoon at the ballet, especially as I finished grading research papers yesterday and bid adieu to fall semester. And the Nutcracker is magical. Here’s how the outing went:

  1. Autism came along with us, and Charlie spent 45 minutes being angry during our drive there since I haven’t yet taken  him to Europe???? 
  2. Because he doesn’t get that most kids don’t just get to up and tour Europe while in elementary school, and
  3. European history is totally his thang, and
  4. I am the meanest mom who ever lived, and
  5. It’s NOT FAIR, and
  6. He doesn’t want to go SOMEDAY, he wants to go NOW.
  7. Rigidity and obsessiveness are super fun parts of my parenting adventure.
  8. Once we got to the ballet with Gma Shirley, we took a happy photo together in the lobby next to Herr Nutcracker, and went into the theater where
  9. The three-year-old behind me kicked my seat nonstop for the performance.
  10. This is the sort of thing I pride myself on being super chill about, because Jack was an expert seat-kicker throughout his little kid years, particularly that time on the airplane with a stranger named Judy, whose seat toddler-Jack kicked for five hours (there was an empty seat next to her she could’ve used, so…I don’t get why she didn’t use that option. Anyway)
  11. Lil Girl behind me at the ballet also gave a running commentary of the show.
  12. In her regular voice. There was no whispering.
  13. Just kicking and loud kid speech for an hour, in the silence of the theater. 
  14. I thought to myself, “This is exactly the kind of thing I should be extra understanding about, considering my particular children and their penchant for loud public behavior.”
  15. I turned to look behind me at one point, and Lil Girl’s mother was super unconcerned about both the kicking and the talking. In fact, she responded to and validated each of her daughter’s comments. 
  16. This is what my dad would have referred to as “Being a Dip Sh*[z].” I digress.
  17. At this point I was like, “Okay, so just accept that this year, going to see The Nutcracker isn’t going to be magical. It’s going to be Kid Town, Population of One: somebody else’s loud kid. Just roll with it.”
  18. And the kicking continued, punctuating these thoughts with a chaotic percussive beat.
  19. Then, at intermission, Charlie hounded me to buy him a nutcracker from the shop in the lobby. 
  20. I’d left my wallet in the theater, so I told him no.
  21. At which point, he lost his marbles and threw a fit about never getting anything he wants, ever. While we were literally at a magical Christmas ballet that he freaking loves.
  22. He was making a scene, which culminated when he kind of inadvertently threw an elbow at my face, knocking my glasses askew and making us the sudden stars of the show in the lobby. 
  23. These are the things which then went through my mind: a) this is what I get for silently judging Clueless Mom of Lil Kicky Loud Girl, b) because the crazy family at this ballet? It us, and c) Parenting: It’s a real Trash-Kicker.
  24. The second half of the ballet was better. Charlie lost his hatred of me while being distracted by Mother Buffoon.
  25. Lil Girl fell asleep.
  26. And woke up when the Sugar Plum Fairy emerged, to tell her mom, with wonder in her gravelly little gremlin voice, “She’s beautiful.”
  27. At which point, I loved Lil Girl. She was enchanted by the Nutcracker, too.
  28. I proceeded to enjoy the Tchaikovsky and the costumes and the artistry. 
  29. And I left thinking how the thing that stuck with me was that parenting is a real crap shoot.
  30. Parenting any and all kids is pretty unpredictable.
  31. And exhausting.
  32. Also humbling.
  33. In a “let’s take any pride you once had and fling it heartily off a seaside cliff” sort of way.
  34. Walking through the flat, fading winter light on our way to the parking garage, I looked at the many moms with their little girls in party dresses.
  35. And my son in his blue suit, who isn’t ungrateful so much as he is a ten-year-old person with autism, grappling with growing up and wanting all the things in the whole world, right now.
  36. We are all trying. 
  37. No one’s life features the precision and perfection of the ballet. 
  38. That’s okay. 
  39. We still get the snatches of wonder and beauty.
  40. We get to keep trying.

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