Saturday, January 5, 2013


:the destination for A's 13th birthday trip

Christmas morning, all of the presents in the Truss home had been opened when I told A to look behind the tree.  There she found an overnight bag with a red bow around it.  Inside?  Two wrapped boxes, one inside the other.  The final box contained two tickets to the Joffrey Ballet's Nutcracker in Chicago.  She laughed.  She cried.  She explained to her sisters what the Joffrey is.

A while back, J and I decided the perfect way to celebrate each girl's 13th birthday was an overnight trip.  When I found out Chicago's Nutcracker continued past Christmas Day, I thought it would be the perfect surprise for A.  Now that the plan is out, K and B have already asked about whether their birthday trips could be to London or Russia.  I quickly set some parameters, including that "overnight" requires the trip be in the continental United States.  I'm too old (and wise) to take an overnight trip to Europe.

A and I left early the day after Christmas.  When we landed, we headed straight to one of my favorite places - the Art Institute.  I had let A choose our first destination and was thrilled when this was her selection.  The biggest selling point to her were the Thorne Rooms.  She actually gasped when she heard she could see them in person.  A few years ago, she read The Sixty-Eight Rooms which is set partially in the Thorne Rooms.  While we weren't able to shrink down to miniature size and sneak around the rooms like the characters in her book, it was still pretty cool to walk along and look at them together.

After the art museum, we walked to our hotel, where Anna promptly started journaling in the journal she bought at the Art Institute.  We then did something I rarely enjoy - we shopped - at H&M, Macy's and more.  And we just walked around and enjoyed being in a city so much larger and more city-like than our own.  A was delightful and delighted the entire time.  We talked about what we liked - being able to walk everywhere.  What we didn't - some very crowded stores.  And what baffled us - is an eight story Macy's really necessary?

We spent the evening in bed, watching the Kennedy Center Honors, so that A could see the ballet portion.  As we sat there companionably, it struck me how much this child broadens my horizons, even as I set out to broaden hers.  Sure, I introduce her to taxis, airplanes and room service, but she inspires me to hop a flight in order to see a ballet (and watch some on television, to boot).  I am thankful for who this child is becoming.  She's humble, grateful for new experiences and easy to be around.  I like her.

The next morning, we ordered room service.  A thought this was a huge treat and relished the experience.  Afterwards, we debated whether to head to the Field Museum or do some more shopping before the matinee.  A was undecided.  She didn't really want to take a taxi over to the museum and wasn't sure she felt up to more shopping.  (Can you tell she's my child?  One afternoon of that was enough.)  When I suggested maybe we should walk over to Barnes & Noble and read, she lit up.  Our choice was made.  The icing on the cake was that it was snowing as we walked over.  A snow flurry in Chicago is considerably heavier than a Nashville snow flurry.  It was a delight to experience it.

While reading at Barnes & Noble, A experienced what may have been her favorite moment of the trip: a stranger mistook her for a college student.  In the stranger's defense, we were at the B&N on DePaul's campus.  But my then-twelve year-old thought it was hilarious and flattering that someone thought she was old enough to be in college.  As we sat in the cafe sipping our hot chocolate and coffee, A daydreamed about what it would be like to live in Chicago, study at the Joffrey and make her way.  She's great that way, this child.  She dreams, but she tries to think things through at the same time.  Even in her fantasy, she knew she would need a part-time job to supplement any ballet income.  So we conjured up a job at the bookstore for her and kept dreaming.

When we finally arrived at the ballet, it was all we had hoped for.  The theater was gorgeous, the cast amazing, my daughter inspired, all of which left me content and happy.

A asked me last night what I was going to say about her in her birthday post.  This year, I find myself hesitant to tell you who she is.  More and more, she is taking ownership of that herself and that is as it should be.  To me, she is so much potential - some of it realized, some of it untapped.  She is more than I ever could have imagined and will become so much more in the remaining years she spends in my home.  She is a joy to be around and can still make me roll my eyes in exasperation.  She's on the threshold between childhood and adulthood and it's a gift to watch her make the transition.  She's thirteen and I'm thankful to be her mom.


J said...

What a wonderfully written post! Happy birthday my firstborn daughter. I love you!


Misha Leigh. said...

I thought of you both so much as I watched PBS' history of the Joffrey Co. the other day. This is such a lovely, lovely post.

EJN said...

Happy Birthday to A. Love Chicago, and the trip sounds wonderful. Precious! Truly.
Grace and Peace,