Growing up I quickly discovered that I loved the stage. Whether I was on it or in front of it, it called to my soul. I would mentally move with every step of a dancer or an actor during a production. I could feel the torment of a bleeding heart that ached for the one they loved in a character. The theatre has always been magical to me; something that I had hoped that I would someday be able to share with a daughter of my own.
With each arrival of my children, boy after boy, I thought, “well they may like the theatre.” I don’t think the conversation I envisioned with my daughter, of discussing the movements of the dancers or the heart of the performer, would be the same with one of my sons. As each of my boys personalities became more prominent I could see that they would much rather spend time with daddy in the shop working with tools, then with mommy at the theatre. Then six years ago I was blessed with a daughter and thought, “wonderful, my theatre partner had arrived.”
When she entered into pre-school and Sunday school I began to realize that she didn’t enjoy staying in one place for very long. In fact she became known as “the runner”. The moment her teachers would turn their back she made a run for the door. The likelihood of my sweet daughter sitting through a full production of a play, or a ballet, with me was not looking good. My daughter has Down syndrome, and like other children her age with the same extra chromosome, sitting still for any amount of time is a difficult task to master. (Let’s face it. I’m the one who would like her to master it. She on the other hand has much more fun things in mind.) She is curious and smart and just wants to keep learning the cause and effect of every encounter she can find.
Last year my niece was in a production of sleeping beauty, a children’s production; so I decided to take my three youngest children to it. My mother-in-law was pretty iffy on whether or not Lindsey (my daughter) attending would be a good idea. I didn’t want to leave her out, and figured since it was an amateur children’s production this would be a good one to try her out on.
The little girl who is lucky to sit for 5 minutes in a classroom or church setting transformed the moment the lights lowered and curtains parted. She was mesmerized. The theatre touched her soul the way it had done mine the first time, and every time after that. During the production I had a hard time keeping my eyes on the stage, as I would incessantly look over at her watching the performance. Tears were difficult to hold back as I realized that yes, my theatre partner had arrived. She was perfect during the entire play, wanting more when it concluded.
Last week my mother-in-law treated my daughter and I to a performance of the Nutcracker. Once again my little girl was pulled in to every movement and motion of each dancer. Reaching her neck from one side of the stage to the next to making sure she didn’t miss a thing. What a wonderful experience for the both of us and a reminder to me of this blessing I have in a daughter who should never be underestimated. The annual attendance to the Nutcracker for us has just begun; I wonder when Swan Lake is coming to town?