I was brought up on the austere adage ‘Don’t look forward to something too much and you won’t be disappointed’ (and was well into adulthood before I realised what a killjoy statement that was!). These days it gives me great pleasure to witness my children looking forward to doing something so much that they’re fit to bursting with excitement. A little jumping for joy never did anyone any harm. And nor does some occasional disappointment; sometimes life does have a habit of biting you on the bum.
My daughter recently moved up to a ballet grade where she can start learning to dance en pointe. This, as anyone who has a ballet-dancing child knows, is a Big Deal. And to dance en pointe you must, of course, have pointe shoes*. Beautiful, satin pointe shoes.
The first lesson with the new shoes was set for this evening so I picked her up from school on Monday and we drove to a specialist dance shop for an appointment with a specialist fitter (it is very important that these shoes are fitted correctly to avoid damaging dancing feet). We were shown to the back of the shop where there were stacks of shoes – shelves and shelves of beautiful satin slippers; her mouth did actually drop open – a sofa for attendees and a little area of wooden dance floor with barre and floor-to-ceiling mirror. It had ‘long evening’ written all over it. Happily the lady in the shop seemed to know exactly what she was doing and the second pair selected fitted perfectly and didn’t hurt one bit (obviously quite important). Shoes on, my daughter stood there en pointe, holding on to the barre, beaming with sheer delight. These were The Ones. ‘These shoes are Russian’, the lady said. ‘Handmade’, she added. I sighed and held my breath for what was coming. A little while later, credit card quietly weeping in my purse and after strict instructions about how to sew on the ribbons and elastic, stick on the suede toe protectors and about wearing the toe pads, airing the shoes and not getting them wet, we were on our way home.
I promised to wait until my daughter got home from school the following day before I sewed on the ribbons. To be honest I was dreading sticking a needle into these expertly-made shoes, worried that my cack-handed sewing would completely ruin them. I managed to get one shoe done (I did my best but I’m sure any ballet-shoe cobbler would shudder) before getting caught up in the evening routine. I’d do the other one the next day… The next day the school phoned. My daughter was in the sickbay. She’d been playing football** at lunchtime and hurt her knee, could I please go and collect her. Yes, she probably did need to go to hospital. A couple of hours later and we were back home with my daughter on crutches. She’s damaged the collateral ligament in her left knee which means strict resting for 48 hours and absolutely no sports (especially dancing) for at least one week, possibly two. Her pointe-shoe debut has been postponed and she is gutted. Such is life. It could have been worse and at least I have more time to do the sewing.
On a lighter note, despite the chilly, chilly wind, there have been some gorgeous blue skies this week. I know there has been snow in parts of the country but Spring is doing its best to cling on here in the south east. Wishing you a lovely May bank holiday weekend – here’s hoping for blue skies wherever you are. And a little excitement.
*Pointe shoes might look gorgeously soft but they are surprisingly hard – the toe block and base are made of layers of papier-mache. To protect precious feet, dancers wear a little padded, silicone ‘toe-socks’ inside the shoes.
**Apparently the boys were goading the girls, saying they couldn’t play football and she was ‘showing them’ which I totally approve of but it’s such a shame that she decided to go in for a hard tackle and came off worse. Her ballet teacher has previously asked her not to play football after the time she badly sprained her ankle… Girls 🙂