Pay it Forward: The Ballet

“I can’t.” Caroline stared at the laces that had just landed her in a heap.

“Honey, you did it last week.”

“I can’t.”

And no, today, she can’t. I hate being the one who has to constantly remind her, “you can you can you can”.  I hate sending her the mixed message that autism enhances her life while telling her to accomplish the things that autism makes damn nigh impossible. And I hate that I’m right when I do it.

Because she can tie her shoes. She can. Just not today.  Only she has to do it today, on a day when she can’t, or she’ll lose the muscle memory. It’s that vague muscle memory that’s making her say, “I can’t” in the first place.

This morning, I tied her shoes.  But she’s going to do it before we go Christmas tree shopping tonight. And I reminded her that cute girls sneakers, past a certain size, and until a certain age is reached, are tie-ups. And that if she wants adorable school shoes for the next 9 years, she’s going to have to tie them herself. Of course, I did not do this in the calm rational way that I meant to. I did it in a confrontational, j’accuse shouting match while trying to also braid her hair.

Because it’s December again, just like it is every year, and I’m trapped between my Thanksgiving anxiety and my Christmas anguish, I’m not managing my emotions very well. I read more negative news around the holidays. More depressing (or at the very least emotional) blog posts. I don’t do it on purpose; I just gravitate that way. I try the perky shit. But unless it has an underlying baseline of cynicism, it just pisses me off. But if I’m not careful, the bummer reading brings me down, too.

Really, this time of year, I shouldn’t be let near a computer.

Or a newspaper.

Or television.

But music is OK. I adore songs no matter what their mood.

And I’ve been offline for a week for all of those reasons. Also because I have a volunteer job to do, listening to The Nutcracker while I sew hooks on ballerinas’ costumes. Both of my kids have roles, and I like to help out where I’m, needed. While I’m not a particularly competent seamstress, anybody can tack on hooks, and the sewing keeps me in good company.

There are others whose skills and efforts are far more Herculean than mine. My little hooks are insignificant beside the stitches of the woman who (among other feats) sewed perfect reindeer costumes out of whole cloth. My work pales beside that of the board president, who has been up until three AM every day sewing. And that doesn’t even touch the efforts of the dancers themselves or the choreographer/ ballet director. They are pushing themselves to the limit to bring a new Nutcracker to Montgomery this year.

In theater, they say “Merde” in place of good luck and good work. It’s a ‘break a leg’ thing. Facebook has been lit up with Merdes as the dancers show the world what they’ve been working up. Because … well, I’m superstitious enough not to jinx. But let me say that at last night’s first performance in a high school auditorium in Demopolis, Alabma, the standing ovation happened before the curtain had finished closing on the final act.

I think I’ve worried some people writing a couple of maudlin Thanksgiving posts and then vanishing from the face of the earth. But truly, it’s only sometimes that I want to put my fist through the walls. I do lie low around the holidays, because it’s safer that way for me, and for everyone. But It’s all good right now.

If you live in or near Montgomery, Alabama, I’d highly advise that you attend the Nutcracker this year. Because Merde.


I’m linking this post up with Missy Bedell of The Literal Mom and her blog partner Carolyn of Hooked and Happy. Missy wrote the most wonderful thing to me as part of her pay it forward series, and it touched my heart in so many places. She is truly a stunning lady, and she made my day so much brighter. I’m paying it forward myself by asking people to come see the Nutcracker this year in Montgomery. Atlanta is not too far away. Montgomery has an amazing professional ballet troupe, which isn’t something often found in a city of this size, and this piece is engaging even to those who might not think of themselves as ballet types. If you haven’t seen them perform under the direction of Darren McIntyre, you’re missing out.


About jesterqueen:
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.


Pay it Forward: The Ballet — 21 Comments

    • Ayy-men! I’ll be in a much better place comeJanuary. Also, I’l lbe doing better if we can get Caroline’s meds stabilized. Today’s meltdown was because she hates white and had only white shirts clean.

  1. I am feeling every word you said above – I wish you as much peace as possible as we go through December. Not the “perky shit” kind of peace – but the ability to get through the tough moments one breath at a time. And I echo everything that Missy said about you in her post. You are the cat’s meow.
    Hop over and visit ilene’s recent post The PauseMy Profile

    • You hang in there, too. The holidays are going to be tough for you this year, no lie. Figuring out who “gets” the kids when is sure to be tense even if things are peaceful between you and your soon to be ex.

  2. I love the Nutcracker! I hope your family continues to have a wonderful experience with the production and that it leaves you with many lovely memories from this holiday season 🙂

  3. I’ve learned so much about the little challenges that go with autism here. You guys struggle through them so well.

    The holidays can be such a rough time; I’m glad the ballet is going well! Wish I could come myself.
    Hop over and visit Annabelle’s recent post Landed.My Profile

  4. I think you said it so well for so many when you said “trapped between my Thanksgiving anxiety and my Christmas anguish” these times of the year are hard for many.
    We’re seeing the nutcracker here in CO, if we were closer, I’d stop by.
    Thanks so much for linking up!
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  5. That’s amazing. My 8-year-old Carly is perfect for the nutcracker. Your children are adorable and talented.

    can’t wait to meet them someday.

    You got tobbed with america;’s next author. I loved your story…still do
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  6. I wish I could come see the Nutcracker. I can feel so much of the love going into its making just by reading your words. I’d be there if I could.

    I haven’t been ‘around’ much myself lately while trying to fix my sleep schedule and keep on writing. I’ve been wanting to do another Christmas story, but afraid it would come out like last year’s if I don’t try hard to harness something not perky, but hopeful about the holiday season. I don’t mind uplifting, but it needs to feel true to me, so I understand a lot of what you mean about the ‘perky shit’ being hurled around at this time of the year.

    I hope the anxiety and anguish calm down for you, friend.
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  7. I love it when you speak French to me. Merde to you too!

    p.s. I’ve been killing my characters in all my prompts lately. And taking a huge pleasure in killing them. And then giggling proudly to myself. It’s beginning to look a lot like.. oh I need to watch some Dexter!
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