Yesterday I took my youngest daughter to the Ballet.
The Joffrey Ballet was performing "Cinderella" at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (for the non-LA folks - that's where they hold The Academy Awards). If there was a cultural event made for Livi, this was it - ballerinas, fairy god mothers, pastel colored tutus, glitter falling from the rafters. PURE girl!
We'd been planning this "special" outing for months. Livi is without question the ONLY child in which I have hopes of instilling any culture. Izzy has no patience and Ben wouldn't be caught dead at anything that reeked of "girl" (I can't even get him to pee in a women's bathroom!).
Yes, "culture" would be something special we both could share.
I decided to make it a formal occasion. The way it was with my mother. I showered (which is huge...), we put on fancy dresses (I wore a red and black cashmere Carolina Herrera dress with a matching jacket - a la "Mad Men" I found at a consignment shop and I wore it with a classic pair of Manolo slingbacks I bought before I knew divorce was in my future). Livi wore a short-sleeved black wool dress with little wool bows around the hem. She put on white tights and red velvet chinese-style mary janes.
We brushed our hair (again...huge).
I even lent Livi my Grandmother's black silk purse, the one I used for years as my "good bag" for friends' weddings (which might explain the old condom I found in the tiny matching change purse inside the bag as I was cleaning it out for her. I guess the last time I used it I thought I might get lucky...when WAS the last time I used that bag?...)
We made it downtown in the nick of time and found our seats at center/balcony.
I pointed out the various sections in the orchestra pit, "Look, Livi, there are the cellos! Like the one mommy has - you know in the TV room."
"Is that what that is?" I guess I should crack it out more often...
The lights dimmed and BAM! she was transfixed. I could see her eyes glued on the stage, following every pirouette Cinderella made - studying it, practicing it in her mind, committing it to memory so she could recreate the exact same move in her bedroom. I just knew she was thinking "I have GOT to get me some toe shoes!
Her fascination lasted a solid hour!
Intermission was a little hairy since we were both starving and in desperate need of snacks. They didn't have anything "healthy" so we snacked on yogurt pretzels and jelly beans. We snuck them into the theatre to eat during the second half. The woman in front of us glared when I tried to extract a watermelon Jelly Belly and the bag crinkled. I offered her one. She declined.
I shifted in my seat a few times during the third act, but focused on being a good role model, minding that my body language always said "This is FASCINATING!" I plied her with Jelly Beans.
The performance ended and we both clapped like crazy. She gave them a standing ovation.
In the car home we talked about it. I figured this was my chance to really drive the whole "culture" thing home with her.
"I REALLY loved that Ballet, Livi, didn't you? It was SO BEAUTIFUL!" "What was your favorite part?" "I loved the the fairy godmother best." "Wasn't the music beautiful?"
"I liked it." she said. (YES! She likes culture!) "But it was a little boring." (...AND...maybe not).
Now, I have really tried to pass along the cultural foundation my mother and father forced on me. To drag my children to ballets and theatre and musical concerts - all the things I dreaded as a kid.
But I forgot. I was bored too...sometimes.
I wondered, if I don't take my kids to every ballet and symphony in town, am I a bad mommy? Will my children still have a shot at getting into Penn and Yale? Can they still be interesting at cocktail parties? Can they ever be truly happy?? More importantly, do I have to sit through all of these things again? There's a reason the cello sits in the corner gathering dust...
Maybe I can find a happy medium.
I hear the American Ballet will be doing Sleeping Beauty next . It's not Rigoletto's "this or that" or any major opera of which my mother would approve, but that's okay. Apparently, Livi and I aren't that deep. Keep it simple, keep it sparkly and keep it short...
Of course, we'll have to sneak Jelly beans and yogurt pretzels into the theatre.
And if you see me there, freshly showered and dressed to the nines in my consigned couture and old manolos, please say "how do you do"...unless of course, I'm sleeping.