The Lesson

ballet, barre, ballet lessonsI want to follow her instructions. I want to blow her away with my flexibility and flair and fleetness of foot.

But she laughs gently, rolling her eyes in a sweet way. In a way that tells me I’m failing, but she thinks I’m pretty darn cute, trying to do what she does.

I try to explain to her – Look at my posture! Look at my pose and poise! But her reply is a tad condescending despite her touch of forgiveness.

“I’ve been doing this since I was 5, Madre. You’re just beginning.”

But, I want to sputter back, but I’ve been stretching and yoga-ing, running and walking miles, living for years and years before you were even born.

But I don’t say a word. I stand there in front of the mirrors, humble in my clumsiness, awed by her gracefulness.chocolate chip, chocolate chip bars, dessert

Where are we? Oh, I didn’t mention? Every Monday afternoon I pick up my 10-year-old granddaughter from her school and drive her to her ballet lesson. In the car, she always asks, “whatya got for me today, Madre?” And I hand her a homemade brownie, or chocolate chip bar, or meringue cookie, and she munches contemplatively, savoring every bite, and finally proclaiming, “These are good!” just as I drive into the studio’s driveway.

This afternoon, we arrive early, before the teacher, before the other ballet students. Sophie and I sneak in the old house that’s now used exclusively for ballet. Sneaking is not the correct word. The door is unlocked. I turn on the lights. She changes quickly to her ballet tights, black leotard and soft pick ballet shoes. With a glint of “I dare you” in her eyes, Sophie glides into the darkened studio, even though students are forbidden to enter without the teacher’s presence.

I slide my shoes off and tiptoe into the room, shoeless, sockless, and fearless. I’m the adult in charge here, after all. Aren’t I?

I challenge my outspoken granddaughter to teach me some of the steps they’ve been learning for their upcoming recital.

ballet, ballet performance, Arabian Nutcracker princessShe exclaims, “Well let’s go with the Quatrième Devant, then the Effacé Devant, and around to the Croisé Derriere.”

I stumble immediately, missing her cues. “Um, can you slow that down so I can follow step by step?” I ask.

Sophie supposedly slows down her cavorting, but I mess up at first position. My granddaughter shakes her head, her eyes merry as she proclaims sadly, “No, Madre.”

The outside door opens and both of us scurry back to the waiting room like mice caught eating the cheese. We sit on the bench as innocent as … ballet dancers.

Sophie pats me on my knee and whispers.

ballet, children's ballet, ballet performance“It’s okay, Madre. I don’t know any of my friends’ grandmoms who would even try.”

139 thoughts on “The Lesson

  1. First of all, I saw that chocolate chip bar picture at the wrong time. Ugh! it’s almost one in the afternoon I’m working on my client’s work but still an hour to go for my lunch time. I’m hungry and that picture just made me hungry for it. I’m glad that you tried and I appreciate that she appreciated you trying the steps. You know around 12-15 years ago I taught my nephew few dance steps for the annual day show in his school. He was 10 then I was 22-25. Now, he’s 25 but he thinks I have no dancing skills and that my dance skills are outdated. Funny, how time changes the perspective of the individuals.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Don’t you love the “younger set” who think they know everything, even if WE are the ones who taught them “everything.” 🙂 Yes, many may not be that interested in a middle-aged woman’s attempt at ballet, but the photo of chocolate chip bars can draw readers into the story. Haha.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Seven years blogging. I began to reach and find other writers. I ended up making new friends throughout the world. What an incredible place (the blogosphere) to find out how small the world is and how many fabulous people inhabit it.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yeah. I began my professional writing career around nine years ago, but I stepped into blogging a bit late. I started writing movie reviews because I’m a huge movie addict. I’m also a music person, but more of classics fan. Like Duran Duran, Eric Clapton, Eagles and so on. The list is endless. However, later I switched to travel blogging because I am a chatter box (pak pak pak pak) and I love to share my experiences.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Haha this is such a treat to read!! You are definitely a good sport for trying.

    As a kid (about your granddaughter’s current age) my best friend encouraged me to join her ballet classes. After a few classes the teacher told my mother that she was wasting her money! I promptly left the classes and walked off feeling like such a loser. Luckily I discovered gymnastics were more my style. To this day I enjoy moving to music, but am still a lousy dancer! Who cares?. It’s fun!

    Thanks for sharing this poignant story! She is adorable!!!

    Pera

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I’m right with you Peta. My mom placed me in a ballet class at 5 and 6 years of age. My parents used to show the family film (from an “old time” projector) of me as a dancing bear. I looked much more like a bear…than a dancer. I also failed in hockey and cheerleading and even gymnastics. Thank goodness I discovered yoga in my 20s! Yoga accepts us no matter how awkward and uncoordinated we may be. Namaste. ❤

      Like

  3. You get to pick your granddaughter up each week and drive her to ballet. You are part of a routine in her life! What a privilege that is. And oh yes, great story, though it made my hips hurt reading about those plies. 🙂 I drive 12 hours to visit mine, which I do gladly at least twice a year. And they visit me. But it’s the routine you have that I envy. That’s special.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know what you mean, Janet. I have three grandsons who live across the country. No routine there either (except for the silly cards and $2 bills I send them every so often so they don’t forget me). ;-0

      Like

  4. It is so lovely that you share that special weekly time with your granddaughter. I’m sure she will remember it. My daughters didn’t have a weekly experience with their grandmothers, but they still talk fondly about things they did with them when they were children.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My mom played cards with my kids as soon as they could count ten fingers. Even though she lived on the other side of the country while they were growing up, they grew so close to her because of Gin Rummy and Uno, and continue to love her dearly. I’m not so good with counting my fingers, so I thought maybe ballet could work. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Both wise, Madre and her adorable grand-daughter. How fortunate this growing girl is in arm’s reach. Jenna and I do other things like baking, but not ballet. We are both fortunate!

    Yesterday in Pilates I stood by a ballet bar and wound my legs round and round and then up and down, so “You have a firm tush,” my instructor said. Predictably, I’m aching today.

    You always inspire, Pam. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – October 19th 2018 – Pamela Wight #Ballet, Geoffrey West #short story and Traci Kenworth reviews Stephen King. | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  7. Wonderful story! The routine time with grandchildren is so great. I got that for one semester, taking my grandson to work or school, wherever his day started. One morning we talked the entire class period outside the calculus class he knew he was going to have to take again. He’s 22 now, tall and handsome, and just last week we had a 2 1/2 hour dinner together, just catching up. Grandchild time, whether it’s ballet or calculus anxiety, is the best!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. So great that you get to spend time together each week . . . and that you’re willing to “give it a go.”

    I like to believe that my ballet lessons way back when are still evident as I move with “flexibility and flair and fleetness of foot.” 😆

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have absolutely no doubt that you still retain the flexibility and gracefulness that you learned from your ballet lessons “a few years back,” Nancy. In fact, any boy or girl lucky enough to take ballet lessons learn an athletic discipline as well as how to keep a straight posture their entire lives.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Awwww. So cute, Pam. Your grandchildren are lucky to have an adventurous and brave Madre. I love it when kids take pity on us and are patient with our failures. After all, they have years of experience and wisdom to draw from (like when a 4-year-old tells you about when he was young). Ha ha. Your granddaughter is adorable. I hope she continues to dance through life, one way or another. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh my gosh, you called it exactly. I’ve carpooled Sophie with several of her 10-year-old friends, and they often talk about when they were “young” and did such and such a silly thing. I hold in my laughter as I steer the car. Can’t wait to read what Tornado Boy teaches YOU. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s interesting how “easy” ballet looks, until you try even the first position. The good thing about trying to ‘dance like a ballerina’ is that we become even more in awe of the athleticism of ballet dancers.

      Like

  10. Oh those cookies, look so delicious. A Lucky granddaughter to have a hip Madre to drive her to ballet class, make cookies and, learn some dance steps. I think you are giving her memories that will last a life time which she will treasure as she glides to adulthood and beyond.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Am I wrong, or doesn’t every woman secretly want to be able to dance like a ballerina? Not actually be a ballet dancer. That’s too hard, too many blisters, a too-short career. But don’t we want to be able to dance like that, to be that graceful?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you’re right. As girls, we want to grow up to be as graceful and flexible and strong and beautiful as a ballerina. But the reality of how to get there – sweat, tears, hunger (to be super thin) and blisters – is hidden behind the theater curtains.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Good on Madre for trying. There’s life in us learners yet. How wonderful it is to pick up your granddaughter from school each week. I pick up my grandson and granddaughter once a week too. It’s a very special part of the week. I’d hate to miss it. I take them a fruit snack to have in the car. Then we go somewhere else for ice cream. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Phew. You scared me at first Norah (and I gulped a big gasp of guilt) when you first noted that you bring your grandchildren a fruit snack in the car. Much healthier than my chocolate chip oatmeal bars. BUT, then you added that you stop for an ice cream. You and I know THAT’S what they’ll remember when we’re long gone. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Exactly! I don’t feel so guilty giving them ice cream after they’ve had fruit. I did say no to a second ice cream the other day. I felt a bit mean but I don’t want to be responsible for later health issues. Mind you, I think they work it off in a matter of minutes. I carry it around my waist for them. 🙂

        Like

  13. Ah, great how each new generation gets to make their own mark on the world, not necessarily the same one we made.

    I used to pick my daughter up from ballet, hanging around outside to suspicious looks from the ballet mothers 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cute, Roy. I watch one dad drop his daughter off at ballet, change shoes, and then take off for an hour run. He returns to the studio just in time to pick up his daughter. I envy him, thinking I should do that. But then I’d miss an opportunity to dance in my granddaughter’s shoes! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Well, I’ve fallen on a new high pile of leaves, and I’ve biked the new trail with my grandkids leading the way (speeding the way, I should say), and I’ve jumped on their trampoline to the count of 25. What doesn’t kill me, keeps me young. I hope. 🙂

      Like

  14. Cute story! You would have to remind us that we are not as flexible as we once were. I loved that it meant so much to her that you tried. I loved dance and figure skating once-upon-40 years ago. I grew up on the ice. Wouldn’t even try now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, Patricia, that’s a great fact to know about you now. You were a figure skater. Believe me, you’d have done tons better in that ballet studio than I did. Do you still ice skate? I think I know the answer. I used to be a swimmer – excelled in breaststroke in high school and college meets. Now, you can’t get me in the pool. 🙂

      Like

  15. Oh how awesome!! I would love that! And I would be right there with you! I danced for years. Loved jazz and modern the best but had to have ballet of course because it is the foundation of everything… most people do not know that. I am proud that you tried. What a sweet granddaughter ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • If you had asked me, I’d have guessed that you were a ballet dancer. And I haven’t even met you in person! But you have a type of gracefulness, even in your blog posts. Do you miss it? I go to a dance exercise class several days a week (combo jazz/modern/hip hop) and have the time of my life. Makes me feel 20 again. Well. 40. 🙂

      Like

    • Well, I hope you dance your heart out at weddings, Gerlinde. I love to dance too (just don’t have any ballet in my forte), so I go to a Nia-type dance class every week (NIA began in CA). Bet you’d love it.

      Like

    • Well, I hope you didn’t look too carefully at my careless ballet moves. Truly, I never realized how difficult it is to maneuver those toe over toe over heel positions. ;-0 Thanks, Sue. May we both always keep on trying, whether it’s skiing or kite-sailing or…dancing. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Love this. I took ballet eons ago. The studio was in a converted barn or garage in the backyard of my instructor’s home. Same rules–no one is allowed on the floor without the instructor present.

    So glad you dared! I bet you two had fun. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, now we know those strict rules about not being in the studio without the ballet teacher is for the MOM’S and GRAND mom’s, who might need the sign: DO NOT TRY THIS ON YOUR OWN. haha I’m glad I tried – Sophie and I did have a great time.

      Like

Always a pleasure to read your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s