I hope my kids nut-‘crack’ a smile

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 9, 2009

When I was about 6 years old, my grandmother took me to see the Andalusia Academy of Ballet perform The Nutcracker.

It was my first trip to the ballet.

We, along with my mother, dressed in our Sunday finery and loaded into the car, leaving my brother and father at home, to meet my aunt in the lobby of the LBWCC Dixon Center.

I can remember my grandmother had a silver Oldsmobile that smelled of her signature scent, Joy — later it was something from a French Quarter perfumery. We listened to Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee on the drive from Red Oak to Andalusia, and I made her replay it over and over because I loved how the notes seemed to buzz from the speakers.

For most girls, ballerinas are the epitome of grace and elegance, and watching the pastel spins of sequins and tutus are enough to instill a desire to don a pair of toe shoes.

I remember that at intermission, the crowds were thick and the line long to get in the bathroom.

As my mother and I made our way into the stall, the push of the crowd caused the door to slam on my finger — busting it open.

Without a backwards glance, my grandmother, the nurse, threw open her purse, removed a first-aid kit and dressed my finger right then and there.

Then, we went back and watched the rest of the performance.

And while getting your finger slammed in a door is enough to put the day right up there, the day is one of the most precious memories I have of her — her capable hands, the way she sized up and handled an emergency situation and for the fact she loved me enough to take me in the first place.

For most children attending, it’s the feeling one gets when included in the grown-up world and realizing that there is a whole world out there just waiting to be discovered, whether it’s classical music and ballet or those 6-year-old boys going hunting with Daddy for the first time.

On Sunday, I hope my daughters are able to have a similar experience — minus the bleeding finger — when we go to see The Nutcracker. I opted to go the after-church route since Saturday will be filled with Florala’s Kiwanis Club pancake breakfast in the morning and the Christmas parade that evening.

This will be the oldest girl’s second trip to the ballet, but it will be the first trip for the hearing-impaired middle child. I can’t wait to see the wonderment and the smile “crack,” pun intended, across her face when the orchestra strikes up and the dancers take the stage and the desire to be Clara is chattered on the ride home.