My little girl is growing up
And a week later, it's her birthday. She's starting to need to shop in stores that sell junior sizes, she's starting to have those discussions with her friends that border on arguments, she's in that in-between time of her life where she wants to be cooly cynical, but doesn't want to give up innocent fun and joy, and I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to tell her that you don't have to give up either.
Last Thursday, Stella and I went out to dinner and then to the ballet of the eve of her 10th birthday and *I* was the one who suggested dessert, because, it was, after all her birthday. That's when it hit me -- she's ten and in many respects, she's much older than that, but I still have to remember she's still a little girl. A little girl who still orders off the kids' menu because the chicken fingers at the Water Street Brewery are really good (they're almost tempura, rather than some breaded crap.). A little girl who still likes to jump down the last three steps in a staircase instead of walk down them gracefully to take her seat in the loge at the Performing Arts Center. A little girl who wears striped tights that clash -- in color, texture and design -- with the white and rose organza dress she selected for the ballet, topped off with her Tina Fey glasses that bring out that same absurd and cynical sense of humor she shares with Fey.
The ballet was OK. It was Sleeping Beauty, and we both went in sort of tainted by the Disney-fied version. Jeanette Hanley's evil Carabosse admittedly was costumed a bit like Maleficient herself (or Susan Sarandon's character in "Enchanted"). But we found that we enjoyed her performance the most, accompanied by her henchmen that reminded Stella of a rather malformed and decaying Blue Man Group. Typical Tchakovsky ballet -- big party where everybody gets a dance before the plot thickens. Best dances where when each fairy gives a gift to baby Aurora. And Stella and I disagreed this morning with the Journal Sentinel critic -- he didn't like Act I and thought Act II saved it, where we thought the opposite. I mean, after Aurora and Desire's wedding, wow, I know this is the ballet but *I* didn't dance that much at MY wedding! Overall, I have to admit -- I'm more into the edgier stuff that the Milwaukee Ballet puts on -- and this year they have quite a card full of edgy looking stuff. But I know that traditional, classic stuff like Tchykovsky and Balanchine et al pays the bills. And it is a grand showcase to show just how accomplished this particular company is. We've been hitting these performances for awhile now, they're time I've carved out so that I can enjoy Stella for the funny, clever, intelligent, quizzical beauty that she is, without having to deal with her little brother butting in, without having to deal with other influences like the TV or the computer, or anybody/anything else. They remind me how glad I am that she's my kid -- that I can go to dinner with a 10 year old kid and actually enjoy myself and her. She's the one that pointed out that the henchmen looked like the Blue Man Group, she's the one who points out that the King kind of looks like the freaky Burger King.
We spent her actual birthday at her schools' fall festival party, and the following day I treated her and some of her buddies to a day at the Zoo, for the trick or treat, and they're all at that same juncture -- trying to straddle that line between happy go lucky kid and ripe-for-goth-rock adolescence without losing their street cred.
I've got a picture of her in my cubicle at work -- she's five years old in it and she's running toward me, with outstretched arms with a look of carefree summer joy in her face -- and I hope and pray that she'll always have a piece of that in her heart -- and I know this sounds selfish -- because it brings so much joy to me to see her happy. Really, I want her to be happy for her, but it is a nice side effect that her happiness influences mine. So today, we went shopping, as mother and daughter, and had a grand old time looking for cute clothes, laughing at some of the stupider fashion trends (I'm savoring this time when we actually agree on this), and arguing about what to get at the food court. I'm wishing her not only a happy birthday, but many, many more happy ones.