Hi, I’m Opal.
This means I’m old enough to ride a bike (with a bar attached to the back so mommy can grab me if I get going downhill and can’t stop), eat popsicles inside, say long words like “appropriate” and go see The Nutcracker Ballet.
I’ve never even been to a real movie, so I had no idea what going to the ballet at an auditorium even meant. But my Mom, Dad and Grammy were all sloppy-happy, which makes me nervous because I feel like they really want me to also feel that way. And since I like for things to be my idea, this kind of pressure doesn’t get us off to a good start.
My grammy has been training me. We have listened to Tchaikovsky since I was a baby and we watch YouTube videos of The Nutcracker all the time. She recently bought me a book of The Nutcracker and I had my mommy read it to me again and again. (I can’t count pass 20 but it seemed like a 101 times we read it.) By the time the performance actual came, my mom and I had mastered the plot. She was most excited about the flower dancers (the poppy in particular because she loves poppies) and I was most excited for Mother Ginger, who wears a really, really big skirt that kids climb out from under! How will they do that??
So, for the whole day today, I asked my mom to call me Mother Ginger. Then I changed my mind when I found a little wooden Nutcracker ornament to carry around. Since Clara is the one with the Nutcracker, I asked mom and dad to call me Clara.
First of all, I am so glad my Mommy suggested I wear something other than dirty jeggings and a long sleeve cotton t-shirt to the show today. I love to wear princess dresses and accessorize, that’s not the problem, I just wasn’t feeling it this morning. But I grabbed my pink tutu on the way out the door and I’m so glad I did. Let’s just say it was a who’s-who in preschool fashion at the Mackey Auditorium. Little girls were donned in the most glamorous, glittery-est dresses and shoes, with bows that looked like bird’s nests on their heads in the dark.
Let’s just say even my pink tutu looked underdressed!
Daddy walked me down to the orchestra pit. (It reminded me of the well Daddy showed me in the newspaper that a horse fell into, but he got rescued and was fine). There were a bunch of people in a big hole playing music! Then the lights went dark and the music started and I felt myself get a little jolly like mom and dad and grammy and then, the purple curtains opened! We were just a few rows back, so I could see everything so so well!
I admit, I’m a ballet class dropout, but I was riveted for the entire first half. (I’m not even sure I knew what that word meant prior to the show.) There was so much happening— colors, dancing, music. I asked my mom again and again if the people were real because I still get a little confused about what is real and what’s not. She kept saying yes! Even the mouse king?? Yes! Real, in a costume! she said.
(I was afraid the mouse king would be much scarier, but he really was not—he was very cute and it seemed like they made the show especially for kids like me, because even the fight scene between he and the Nutcracker was really funny! I laughed out loud and this made my Mom laugh and then the kids in front of us looked back at us and smiled but clearly thought we were making too much noise. But we just kept laughing until we were empty.)
I really liked the little-girl Clara. She didn’t look that much older then my cousin Stella, who is eight, and she was doing ballet in front of all these people! I bet she would really enjoy having pizza at my house some times. And vanilla ice cream with rainbow sprinkles.
I clapped so hard with open fingers that my hands were all red by the end. I noticed Mom, Dad and Grammy were watching me as much as they were watching the show. I kept giving them my little thumb’s up. They love when I do that.
The second half of the show was pretty tiring for my brain. It was the part where older-Clara goes to the Land of Sweets to see the Sugar Plum Fairy. This is when all the dancers come out—the coffee dancers, the Russian high-step dancers, Mother Ginger, the garden dancers. I got a little confused about which dance was happening next so I grabbed the program and tried really hard to read. I don’t know how to read yet, but I thought I could figure it out if I put all my head into it. That didn’t work. I kept pointing to some words in the program and saying to my mom, “Read this! Who are these dancers?” And my mom just said that I was pointing to an advertisement, so we had to guess together who was who. Boy, that wore me out.
But Mother Ginger was awesome.
At that point, I climbed into my mama’s lap and said I was ready for a walk. My brain felt like it had been fed too many gumballs and was tired of chewing. I got floppy and fidgety, but made it until the end. Then I remembered my mom said the real dancers sometimes come out to meet everyone after the show. I could meet Clara!? I could get her autograph! (This is a word I learned from PBS.) That perked me right up like rain on my face!
And it felt so good to finally stand up after the show.
I refused to go to the bathroom because I didn’t want to miss Clara. A thousand and one people came into the lobby and many of the kids wanted to buy Nutcracker’s from the table where they sold them, but my grammy already got me one and it was in the car.
After a while, my mommy spotted the Sugar Plum Fairy—the real Sugar Plum Fairy!—and we grabbed my program and a pen. Her name was Amy Fogerty and she was happy to sign her name. She tickled my knee and she was really pretty. (But Mommy made it clear to me that she was also kind.) I ran back to show daddy and guess who mom spotted across the way? (Man, Mom has hawk eyes.)
We ran over to her and I think we startled her with our excitement! She said she didn’t have an “autograph” yet, but she signed my program anyways. Her name was Fiona. She wrote “To Opal, Love Fiona.” Then she smiled and ran to her real mom for some money to buy the Mouse King Nutcracker that was for sale. I liked that one, too.
I would have loved to meet Mother Ginger, but she was old and probably needed to have a rest before the next show tonight. (I actually said this to my Mommy.)
Life was really Big today. (It seemed like it was big for Mommy, Daddy and Grammy, too.) Grammy bought us tickets to Big Life for a few hours. Neat how grown-ups can do that. When I get to be grown-up, I will buy tickets to Big Life every day.
I wonder if everyone else feels that way, too.
I plan to sleep next to my Nutcracker tonight and I wont even mind if I have dreams of the Mouse King because he was so silly and wore clothes. And everyone knows mean mice don’t wear clothes.
Want 15 free additional reads weekly, just our best?
Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photos: courtesy of the author