Monday, February 7, 2011

Bloody Ballet Slippers

I had just washed the sheets.

She decided to tuck herself in during quiet time.

Bladder full.

She woke up and realized she soaked the work of my morning with urine.

She hid.

I found and comforted and put the sheets back in the washer.

I gave her a banana.

I went to Avonlea's room to see if she had finished sewing the elastic on my ballet slippers for me. I needed them for lessons tomorrow.

She had sewed on one strap. In three days. It was done wrong and badly. She was reading a book. A book that she had read a dozen times before.

I picked up the slippers, threaded a needle, and began the painful process which really can't be called sewing. I hit my finger more than the elastic and the blood started to run.

Rose came up crying, "Mommy my banana broke in half! I can't eat it!"

Normally I would have comforted.

Under the circumstances I replied, "Get used to it Rose. Life is broken bananas. Life is dreams broken in half. That's life. That's normal and if you refuse to take it as it comes, you starve." I looked down through the mist in my eyes and saw the blood running all over the pink leather, and I said, "Life is bloody ballet shoes."

I can remember excruciating hours as a girl on my pointe shoes. I would unwind the sheep wool around my bloody toes after long rehersals. If too much blood had dried onto the wool I would have to soak my foot in water to get it off. I would look at the few toe nails I had left and think, why am I doing this to myself? I was pretty sure I was never going to be a professional ballerina. What was the point of all this training and discipline?

I've taught many, many little girls how to dance. At a dance studio in Portland, at Friday School, and in my home. It's given me so much pleasure and joy. I have been able to teach my own little girls and their little friends. The joy now is worth more than the pain then.

I finished sewing and my fingers looked like some rare form of porous coral. I said a few words to my big daughter on what trust and responsibility means. I went downstairs to find my little daughter eating a broken banana and evidently enjoying it despite it's brokenness.

I put on my bloody ballet slippers, and danced.

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