senor and the roses

I was thankful to sit in the darkness for nearly two hours. I didn’t have to worry about any of the people seated next to me and what they would think about the tears streaming down my face.

Things like this always make me cry. The adorable little 3-year-olds in their bright pink tutus, spinning when they are supposed to kick. Raising the right hand, when it’s time to lift the left. Tapping their tiny little ballet shoes. Their cuteness makes me cry.

Then the 7- and 8-year-olds come prancing onto the stage. They are old enough to do their dance almost in synchronization. Their little skirts flow behind them as they run in a circle. Now it’s the beautiful music that makes me cry.

Out comes my daughter and her class in their bright red tutus. They are “Senor and the Roses”. Senor is often facing the wrong direction, lifting the wrong arm, spinning the wrong way, but he’s so cute in his bright red sparkling bow tie. And there’s my daughter, leaping, running back and forth, spinning and tapping her foot in her first ever ballet performance. I better find a Kleenex.

The acts continue. Pre-teens. Teen-agers. Adults. I sit there in my solitude thinking about all of the women who choreographed each dance, all of the hours the kids spent practicing, all of the time their parents spent driving them to class. And, of course, it makes me cry.

I know I’m feeling a little more emotional than usual because I’m there alone. I’m squeezed between grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles who came in groups of six, eight and 12 to see one little performer.

I’m wishing my husband wasn’t in China right now. I’m thinking how nice it must be to have family living nearby. I’m missing my boys, even though I know it’s better that they are enjoying the beautiful day outdoors at a playdate. They sat through the dress rehearsal yesterday and, even though they loved seeing their sister perform, that was enough ballet for them.

When the show finally ended, the people sitting next to me didn’t want to move. So, I waited behind a stream of people to fight my way toward the waiting room where I could find my 4-year-old.

She came running toward me and then pulled me down to her level.

“Mommy. All the other girls got flowers,” she whispered. She had a tear in her eye.

It hit me.

She had been waiting as each parent came to pick up his or her child. They entered the room with their bouquets for the little performers. She probably thought the flowers were an automatic benefit of being in the show.

I, on the other hand, had walked right past the table where they were selling flowers. Just as I had walked past the T-shirts and the personalized street signs, with words like “Danceforce Way”, one could purchase for a child’s room.

It hadn’t occurred to me that the other moms of the 3- and 4-year-olds would present their daughters with a bouquet after their 1-minute segment in the show. I saw it as one more extravagance. I mean, wasn’t it enough already? The $100 to take the class? Another $50 for the costume? Then the shoes and tights? And the professional video? The class photo? I had sprung for all of that. But it hadn’t entered my mind to buy the flowers.

She kept saying it all the way out of the high school and the whole ride home. “Mommy, all the other girls got flowers.”

“I thought maybe we could get you a movie!” I suggested.

“OK! A movie AND flowers.”

“Hey, let’s go get hot fudge sundaes!”

“OK! And then flowers?”

She was tired after sitting in that room nearly three hours. The girls colored as they waited for the show to start, and they played during all of the other acts. It was a long afternoon for the little girls who didn’t get the benefit of watching the other dancers.

She was tired. Too tired to run in a store and grab some flowers. Not that it would have been the same.

Sometimes I feel so inadequate as the mom of a girl. I spent the first half of my eight years of motherhood parenting boys only. As long as their clothes were somewhat clean and their hair wasn’t sticking up, they were presentable.

But a girl? I’ve never really been all that girly. So, I have to think hard to come up with a plan for how I will style her hair. How will I get that little flowery thing to stay put on the top of her head for three hours? I thought I was doing well to suggest she put on some pink lipgloss for the special occassion.

When we got there and met up with her little group, I hoped she didn’t notice the other girls had glitter in their hair, eye shadow and make-up. I hadn’t thought to go to such lengths to make my 4-year-old beautiful.

We drove home and enjoyed our ice cream sundaes. I let her watch a movie on the way to pick up the boys. I know it wasn’t necessary.

I was feeling guilty that she had no one but a single parent in the audience. Why didn’t I think about putting glitter in her hair? And the flowers. Those darned flowers.

Several hours later, the flowers are nothing but a distant memory to her. She probably won’t think about them again. But me? I’ll probably go buy some tomorrow. And I’ll think about her in her bright red tutu, spinning like such a big girl on that enormous stage.

And I’m sure it will make me cry.


  1. Oh, Emily, I know what you mean. Sometimes we do everything right and sometimes we don’t. But when it all comes down to it. You were there and she knew it.

  2. Thanks Jenny. You’re so right. I have such a special relationship with my daughter. She is such a little light that warms my heart everyday. I felt so bad that I had let her down… I’m LEARNING some of the “rules” of being the mom to a girl! =]

  3. In all honesty, I don’t think she will forget the flowers, even though she may stop talking about them. I hope you will still get them for her. That said, I want to also say how sorry I am that you had to face this type of social pressure. I loathe what it does to children. And to parents. It’s tough to raise children today, in such an indulgent culture.

  4. I agree, Grace. It seemed SO SILLY to me to buy the flowers. It struck me as one more way for the program to suck up my money. I would definitely give flowers to an older child, but I was thinking, “WHY start that when she is only 4?”It broke my heart that she felt left out… And if my family would have been with me, I know I wouldn’t have felt so guilty… Anyway… thanks for the comment.

  5. Thank you for sharing this! I have so much to learn. I am a mom of 3 boys and then a girl – she’s 18 months. I am not a girly girl, either. And, I have been in the “boy world” so long that everything she does amazes me. I really have a lot to learn!

  6. Em, kudos to you for not putting make up all over her cute little face! That’s one thing that drives me crazy. It seems to make them grow up before they need to. They already grow up too fast. I don’t think she will remember the flowers; she’ll remember the ice cream!

  7. You were so right, Lynn. I took her to the store to get her a little treat. We walked past the flowers three times and I even stopped to look at them. She kept saying, “Let’s go, mommy. What did we come to get?!”You are so right about making kids grow up too fast, too. I guess I was just surprised that even at such a young age, I was one of the few people who WASN’T doing it!

  8. Emily, You’re a great mom…I cry, too! As a mom of two ‘grown up girly girls’ and a mom of two ‘not so grown up girls’…I think she’ll remember the flowers…have Kent bring her some when he returns from China! –little girls LOVE to get them, and from daddy makes them even more special…the older girls still talk about flowers their dad got them:)–It’s all good!!!

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