Her Turn To Dance

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Katie has sat through three of Maddie’s dance recitals.  She has spent countless hours with me in the hallway of the park district building, waiting for Maddie’s dance class to end. She has watched the videos of Maddie’s recitals and memorized the dances.  She has worn Maddie’s retired recital outfits around the house, flitting from room to room in Maddie’s old ballet shoes.

As the younger sister, Katie has been playing the waiting game.  Waiting until till she’s older, waiting for her turn, waiting for a class for her age group that fits into our schedule. Poor Katie.

Last fall, I registered Katie for ballet class.  She literally jumped with joy when I told her. Then we got a call from the park district to tell us there was a misprint in the catalog. They were sorry, but Katie was actually not old enough to take the ballet class.  They were sorry, but Katie would have to wait.  I felt my heart break in two when I told Katie.  My tears mixed with hers as I tried to hug away her sadness.

All of this is to explain why my eyes filled with tears this morning when I finally got Katie dressed for her very first ballet class.  It is why I snapped a million pictures when all the other moms just sat and watched.  It is is why Katie was the only ballerina smiling ear to ear during the entire class this morning.

Today was Katie’s day.  She finally got her turn to dance.

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Morning Faces

My school year as an instructional coach hasn’t quite ended yet.  I still have three more days of work.  The girls have already started their summer without me.  Thankfully my husband was able to take the day off work today to transport the girls to cheerleading and the library.

Since my husband was home this morning, I didn’t have to…

coax Katie awake, pull a comb through Maddie’s tangled hair, squabble with Katie over the purple shirt, hurry the girls down the stairs, slap breakfast on the table, plead with them to eat faster, holler ‘get your shoes on please’, rush out the door, run back in the house to grab Katie’s monkey, usher them into daycare, give a quick kiss-i-love-you-have-a great-day, scramble out the daycare door, and speed off to work.

I grabbed my coffee and headed out the door in silence.  I walked at my own pace, not Katie’s.  I pushed play on my audio book and lowered the driver’s side window to let the cool breeze in.

I could have thought about the nice break in my routine.  I could have felt grateful for my husband’s offer to take the day off work.  I could have felt relaxed.

Surprisingly, I felt a little sad and wistful.  I left the house without even seeing their faces.

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Going Nowhere

We spent Memorial Day weekend at our lake house.  As we waited for the burgers to cook on the grill Saturday evening, the girls and I went for a walk.  We meandered down the lane, stopping to inspect a fallen leaf or a lazy caterpillar making his way towards the lake.  Katie slipped her hand in mine.  Maddie skipped ahead a few strides, her curls still wet from an afternoon swim.

“This is my favorite thing ever.  This is why we bought the lake house,” I said aloud.

“What’s your favorite thing ever?” Katie asked.

“This.  Walking with you two.  Having nowhere to go.  Taking our time.  All of this.”

“It’s my favorite, too,” Katie agreed.

I gave her hand a gentle squeeze.  We kept walking and going nowhere at all.

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Sweet Reminder

I walked out of the district office with my principal, chatting as we made our way to our cars.  Our conversation was punctuated by the sound of our heels hitting the pavement, and I struggled to shrug my computer bag back up to my shoulder.  Our minds were reeling with possibilities after our mid-day planning meeting for next year, and we talked about School Improvement plans and benchmarking systems and data sources.  My principal glanced at her watch.  “We can talk more next week,” she said as we parted ways.

I tossed my bag in the back seat and turned the key in the ignition.  A tired sigh escaped my mouth, and I leaned my head back on the driver’s seat, letting the air from the A/C wash across my face.  I straightened up and turned around to check my blind spot before backing out of my parking spot.  My eyes landed on the car seats:

Sweet Reminder

A giggle escaped my mouth at the sight of these unexpected guests. No wonder it took the girls so long to exit the car this morning at daycare!  I had stood filled with impatience, tapping my foot in the daycare parking lot.

Sometimes, I think, the universe sends you just the reminder you need.  All the talk of School Improvement Plans benchmarking systems and data sources disappeared, and I was reminded of what waits for me at home after a day’s work.

Two little girls who take such sweet care of their babies.

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Pitter Patter

Maddie and Katie have separate bedrooms but often request a ‘sleepover’ on the weekends.  They squeeze into one bed with their combined assortment of blankets, stuffed animals, and pillows.  “Sleep tight, blow out the light,” I’ll say, closing the door behind me.  The giggles will start before my foot hits the staircase and will continue late into the night.  I don’t mind.  This is what weekends and sisters were made for.

This was the scene at our house Saturday night. The girls were upstairs giggling and my husband and I settled on the couch for a movie.  Eventually the girls quieted down, and I thought they had fallen asleep.

My husband and I were almost halfway into the movie when I heard footsteps upstairs.  Pitter-patter.  Pitter-patter. The little steps pattered across Katie’s room and back again.  Then, animated voices.  Were they awake again?

My husband pressed pause, and I trudged up the stairs.  I nudged the bedroom door open and peered through the darkness.  Maddie was fast asleep, curled on the edge of Katie’s bed, her pink blanket clutched under her chin. Katie, on the other hand, was very busy. I saw a lopsided stack of books teetering on the blanket.  The nightlight was propped up on pillows so that it shone directly on the picture book she was holding in her hand.  Katie was sitting up, holding the book open so her stuffed animals could see the pictures.  And she was reading.  Loudly.

“Katie,” I whispered.  “It’s time to go to sleep, honey.”

“I only have a few more, Mommy,” she whispered back, resting her hand atop the large pile of books next to her.

“Not now, Katie,” I replied as I gently removed the books from her bed.  “You can read the books tomorrow.”

I tucked Katie in under her blanket and returned the nightlight to its rightful place.  I crept back downstairs and settled back into the recliner.

“What was going on up there?” my husband asked.

“Katie was reading,” I answered with a smile on my face.

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All My Heart

The daycare hosted a Mother’s Day Tea yesterday, so after a long day at work I dragged myself through the rainy parking lot and into the daycare.  I shrugged off my coat and sighed a deep sigh.  I was tired, hungry, and thinking about the laundry piled up at home.

The gym was decorated for the occasion.  We had tea (or water) in fancy cups.  We snacked on fruit and sweet treats.  We took silly pictures in the photo booth. The girls made bracelets out of pipe cleaners and beads.

I sat at the table covered in a pink tablecloth watching Maddie and Katie string the beads on the bracelet.  I took in the unruly curls surrounding Katie’s face and the freckles forming on the bridge of Maddie’s nose.  I saw myself in Maddie’s eyes and my husband in the curve of Katie’s mouth.  I noticed how Maddie’s bracelet was an alternating pattern and Katie’s was a haphazard mix of colors.  It felt so good to sit.

I was suddenly interrupted by Katie’s voice.  “See this heart-shaped bead, Mommy?”

I nodded.

“It’s because I love you wiff all my heart.”

She slipped the bracelet on my wrist, and I kissed her cheek.  The tired, the hungry, and the laundry disappeared.

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Inside and Outside

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This is my Slice of Life Story. Share yours at Two Writing Teachers every Tuesday.

Maddie and Katie were playing with some friends from the neighborhood at our house on Sunday.  They decided to play “family” and soon got in an argument over who would be The Mommy.  Of course, The Mommy is a coveted role and all four girls wanted the enviable position.  Loud voices led to tears, and my husband was just about to intervene when Maddie declared, “Wait a minute, you guys.  We can all be The Mommy.  Hold on.” Maddie bounded up the stairs to her bedroom and came down holding a book.

She sat on the floor and spread The Great Big Book of Families open on her lap.  She thumbed through the pages as the other three girls watched with curious eyes.  “Here!” Maddie declared as she held up the book for the others to see. “Some children have two mommies or two daddies.”  She pointed to the picture.  “We can all be The Mommy!”

“I have a friend with two daddies,” her friend agreed.

The problem was solved, and the multi-mommy family played in harmony.

I love the way Maddie went inside a book to think outside the box.

From The Great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman

From The Great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman