On Saturday my 4 year old son Matt had his first experience performing in front of a crowd. He wasn't wearing a baseball uniform and cleats. He wasn't wearing shoulder pads and a helmet. He didn't have on knee pads and soccer shorts. He was wearing a pink bow tie, a sky-blue vest, white pants, shirt, and ballet shoes.
Late last summer my wife asked me what I thought of Matt taking dance classes on Saturday mornings. My first reaction was "ok". I pictured big, steroid enhanced football players taking ballet to hone their balance and agility. I remembered that Jerry Rice and Emmit Smith were graceful on "Dancing with the Stars". I figured that it will be good for his physical and social development (1 guy and 15 girls in Tu-Tu's is more my fantasy than his, but good for his socialization none the less). She signed him up.
Every Saturday from September 'till June Lori, Matt and Peter(my 2 year old) would leave the house at 9:30 AM until 11:30 AM. I savored the few hours without anyone in the house. I mowed the lawn or cleaned out the garage or slept. The only time I gave any thought to him "dancing" was when I brought him to class when Lori had to work on a few Saturday's. Even then I never saw him dancing. Parents waited outside while the class was in the studio. There were a few "parent observation days" and I attended one, but it consisted of 10 minutes at the end of class where in there was some stretching, ballet moves and a quick "Itsy Bitsy Spider". Non-eventful.
In May Lori told me that Matt had to go for a fitting for his recital costume.
I suddenly remembered that Lori had said that there would be a recital. I had never given it a second thought. My solitary Saturday mornings had come with a price. My son dancing in front of an audience. I privately thought I won't have a mini Tom Brady or Big Papi, I've got a Billy Elliot.
She brought home his costume a week before the recital.
She had him try it on.
The sound of my balls shriveling up on the vine and dropping into my drawers was audible.
He was cute, but I would think he was cute if he was wearing rags, wiping my windshield with a newspaper with his fingerless gloves, hand out waiting for a tip.
I had a work retreat on the Cape from Thursday until Saturday morning. I headed off then Cape at 6:30 AM. to be sure I had plenty of time to be ready for his 2PM stage debut. During the ride home I realized that this would be his first "event" besides birthday's and his baptism. This would be his first tangible accomplishment.
We entered the foyer of the building on Mount Holyoke College where the recital was being held. There were dozens of girls ranging in age from 3 to 18 milling about the halls nervously waiting for their turn on stage. We entered the theater and there were hundreds of people there for the show. Matt's group was on tenth so we watched the first seven acts from our seats in the back of the theater. There were a few boys in some of the numbers, few meaning three. Lori brought Matt backstage and got back with one act to go before his debut. His group made it out onto the stage with the lights down.
The lights came up and there he was, on stage. The music started. They did a four minute number which consisted of a montage of "Itsy Bitsy Spider", "Wheels on the Bus" and "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star". At first he looked so serious, following the teachers direction from the pit in front of the stage. Then for a while he was following the routine by memory as he gazed out into the darkened audience. I watched every move intently. When the act was over I realized that I must have had a huge smile on the whole time because my cheeks ached. Lori went back and got Matt from backstage and brought him out to the foyer were I, along with my sister-in-law with her daughter Jillian and Lori's co-worker and her daughter, was waiting for him. As I waited for him to arrive in the foyer I felt like I thought I would after he pitched his first no-hitter or scored his first touchdown. When I finally saw him he looked so grown up and worldly, as if his 4 minutes on stage had given him a booster shot of poise and confidence.
He could play soccer this Fall, but all they do at his age is run around the field in a bunch, like a clump of beetles. He could play T-ball in the Spring, but he would most likely be bored; he can already hit balls pitched around 30 miles an hour.
I wonder what routine his dance class will be doing next year?