Ed note: I apologize profusely for the state of these pictures. Some were taken on my fancy schmancy camera, some were taken on my not so fancy phone. Some are in focus, some well, not so much. Some I had a chance to crop, a couple I even managed to Instagramize (shut up, it’s a word). Most are pretty raw and are kind of a mess. It is what it is, friends. You get the idea.
But here it is, the story of the Nutcracker …
First there was this …
And then there were these …
Then there were these …
And these …
And Oh My God even these.
To which the very fancy waiters added very fancy bubbling water to make .. are you ready for this? … COTTON CANDY SODA! I know, right?
Which Brooke would never dream of actually drinking, but it’s not like she’d eat those pretty cookies up there either, so let’s just get back to oohing and aahing, shall we?
But before any of that, there was this.
And as much as I’d like to leave it out, I can’t, because without it, this story’s not real.
Because this is what we do.
In the middle of the pink and the fluffy and the shiny and the pretty, we do this.
We find places to hide when it’s all too much.
When Brooke panics.
It’s what we do.
This happened to be the floor in front of the bathrooms.
It is what it is.
It’s part of the story.
But eventually we made it in.
Which was good, because if we hadn’t, we would have missed talking to the rat …
And touching the Sugar Plum Fairy’s tutu …
And Oh my God, THIS.
You know how my girl feels about characters, right?
You know she LIVES for meeting anyone dressed as anything, right?
And you know that she’s not remotely satisfied with a hug and a smile for the camera, right?
Oh no, my kid makes em work for it.
Like, Oh, hey, a dancing bear! So let’s see whatcha got, bear.
Yup, she got the bear to dance.
And do Ring Around the Rosy.
Cause that’s my girl.
And then of course, the bow.
Can’t finish dancing without bowing.
Would be rude.
(And yes, the crowd went wild)
There was glitter tattoo getting …
And rosy cheek painting.
The face painting choices were Ballerina, Princess, Butterfly, Fairy and Mouse.
Brooke chose None of the Above.
“I would get rosy cheeks,” she said.
Oh, there was even picture frame making.
Which apparently got a little confusing and wound up becoming not just a frame, but art.
So I guess now it’s framed art.
And then there was THIS.
Do you remember that I told you that Brooke made a friend in her dance class?
The one who we had the aquarium play date with?
The one who she asks about.
The one that she hung out with at the reception and sat with for the show.
Because, ya know, that’s how they roll.
Doing what FRIENDS do.
And then there was a picture with the utterly fabulous, absolutely one-of-a-kind Mr Gino, Brooke’s adaptive dance teacher.
Or, as Brooke calls him, Mr Gino whose first name is Gino but who isn’t the Papa who makes the pizza.
We love him.
Pizza or no.
And then, after all of that, there was the show.
The first act was, in a word, magic.
My girl was engaged.
She sat on the edge of her seat.
She bounced up and down through entire scenes.
She vibrated with joy.
She was HAPPY.
Then there was the second act.
And just like I showed you the sitting on the floor by the bathroom picture, I’m going to tell you about the second act.
It was hard.
It was physical.
Brooke was struggling.
The girls in front of her turned and stared at her.
She hit and slapped and picked at my skin.
She pulled at my necklace.
The one that I’d brought as a fidget for her, but never imagined she could yank so hard as to hurt me with.
She asked to go home.
She yelled again.
We stuck it out, trying to make sure that she didn’t miss out on things she’d want to see.
She loves finales. I didn’t want her to miss the finale.
The bear, the mouse king, the sheep.
I wanted her to get to see them again.
Looking back, we should have quit while we were ahead.
But when it was over, when the curtain came down, the magic eclipsed the hurt.
The wonder chased away the struggle.
And all that was left was gratitude.
And lingering joy.
As we walked out into the crisp air outside the theater Brooke asked Luau to tell her something. “Dad, she said, could ya tell me that Jesus is proud of me?”
He looked at me. I looked at him.
“Sure, Brooke,” he said, “I’m sure that Jesus is proud of you.”
I assumed she meant Godspell Jesus. But with Brooke, assumptions aren’t always so safe.
When we got into the car, Luau asked her if she’d like to go again someday.
“Yeah,” she said, “when I’m in it.”
Somehow, I don’t doubt for a moment that that is possible.
Because if there’s one thing this life has taught me …
… it’s that everything is possible.
A thousand thanks to the folks at Boston Ballet and State Street who made all of this possible for my girl. I am so grateful for their generosity and their dedication to giving back to the community.