Friday, September 23, 2011


: a ballet position in which the body is balanced on the extreme tip of the toe

My 11 year old daughter A hit a milestone today.  We bought her first pair of pointe shoes.  It was quite the process.  She tried on at least a half-dozen pair before finding the right pair.  She tried Bloch, she tried Capezio.  She couldn't get her foot in the shoe.  Then she could get her foot in and the back was too loose.  A joked that she felt like Cinderella's stepsisters.  The kind ladies helping us pulled a different set of toe pads to allow a slimmer fit.  They patiently pulled pair after pair of shoes.

And then, almost miraculously, she found the right pair.  She put them on.  Her foot slid in, the back pulled up, not too loose, not too tight.  She stood - feet flat on the ground.  The shoes were snug, but her toes weren't overlapping.  After all of that, she went up on them for the first time.  She looked regal.  My eyes teared up a bit.  I imagine what I felt is a foreshadowing of seeing my daughters don their wedding dresses for the first time.  She looked so... right standing there, like it was what she's made to do.  And she positively glowed.

The two ladies who had spent the last half hour gathering shoes raised their eyebrows and looked at each other.  "She has strong feet," one remarked.  "I imagine you're going to be buying her pointe shoes with some regularity, Mom," the other said to me.  Apparently A's strong feet gave them the impression she'll do well on pointe, which translates to wearing shoes out from dancing.  Good for A... not so good for the budget.  Yet it's a price we'll gladly pay to see A pursue what she loves.

I can remember someone being slightly patronizing to A a few years ago about her desire to dance.  He asked what A wanted to be when she grew up and her answer was, "a dancer."  He smiled knowingly and said to me, "Lots of little girls want that when they're six (or seven or whatever she was)."  I recoiled inwardly and thought, "Don't tell her what she can't do!  You have no idea who she'll be."  Being my typical non-confrontational self, I didn't say anything, but the comment and the attitude bother me to this day.

Pointe shoes aren't comfortable.  J and I think this will be the real test of whether A decides to pursue dance.  Is the pain of learning to dance on the extreme tip of her toe worth it?  I don't know whether it will be or not, but I can tell you that J and I will support her, help her soak her feet and drive her to and from rehearsals.

As we drove home from the dancewear store, A and B sat in the back seat talking about high school.  The talk eventually turned to boarding school.  I let them talk for a while until A asked me whether a local performing arts school is a boarding school.  "No, it's not," I replied.  "But let's just get it straight right now that you're not going to a boarding school."  Conversation ensued about why this is my stance.  I offered a few reasons, but eventually said, "The bottom line is that I only get 18 years with you.  After that, you're off on your own to become who God made you to be.  I'm not going to lose out on any of those years.  I happen to like you."  Oddly enough, this ended the conversation.  A and B both accepted this line of reasoning (for now, at least).

If I'm completely honest, my heart is aswirl with emotions tonight.  I'm proud of A that she's going to learn to dance on pointe.  I'm thankful that I got to be there with her to see her don her first pair.  But I'm also a little nostalgic, a little sad.  The little girl who begged me and hassled me about wanting to dance is a real dancer.  I love that, but I kind of miss the little girl.

Getting ready to try the shoes out

This is fun!

Looking regal

Look, Ma! No hands!


Misha Leigh. said...

so, so, so beautiful

Jimmie said...

You turned this very specific milestone into a beautiful post that speaks to every mom's heart. (Well, moms of daughters, at least.)
I think ballet is beautiful, but when I consider all the discipline behind the beauty, I am amazed.