The problem with the Advent running streak is that, well, it happens during Advent.
Advent, that time of craft fairs, cake sales and of course, the annual ballet show.
My regular reader will recall how fond I am of ballet. So fond, that even if Bogland Ireland couldn`t fulfil my childhood dream, I made damn sure Teen Girl did.
I highly recommend living through your children. I now have the greatest of pleasure seeing her en pointe and waving her arms about oh, so gracefully, exactly as I would do if I`d had half the chance. Why, I even have tips I`d love to share with her, but somehow, she doesn`t want to listen…
At least I am allowed to attend the annual Christmas show.
There are all sorts and all ages in my daughter`s ballet school, from three to thirty and beyond. Maybe three hundred in all? Anyway, all of them got their turn on stage yesterday afternoon. And repeated the whole darned performance later on that evening.
As you can imagine, this feat requires precision planning, a few professional stage hands and large body of parents insane enough to volunteer to help out. Naturally, I satisfied the insanity clause and was swiftly left standing in front of twenty nine candy cane fairies.
It`s been a while since I`ve even seen a three year old candy cane fairy. Most times, she preferred her princess guise. Occasionally she would dress as a witch but, as she started ballet a whole lot later, at the ripe old age of six, I didn`t have the terror of wondering if she could wait two hours for her turn to stand in front of those hot stage lights and noisy audience.
Now, standing off stage with my little charges, I was terrified for each of them.
I had forgotten just how sweet a little kid is; all big eyes, dimpled arms and innocence. Each wore a little fairy dress with the red and green candy cane colours. And, it being ballet, they had their hair
upswept in buns and teeny tiny ballet pumps on their feet.
Luckily, we got to spend a lot of that wait watching the show. That meant trooping our charges up one of those labyrinthine passageways to the theatre balcony. Oh! how cute that fairy line looked as they stood in pairs. But cute fairy lines could move at speed. I was grateful when other volunteers showed up to shepherd the bopping line along the stairways, through heavy doors, and finally to the safety of their seats.
I can remember my first time sitting in a flip up theatre seat. It was in the new cinema in Bogland and the movie was “Mary Poppins”. Those seats were fun, weren`t they? Well, almost half a century on, twenty nine fairies discovered them for themselves. Soon, some of the smarter fairies found the armrests moved too. And with an even more satisfying noise! It was also another reason for some fairies to need to go to the toilet. Cue more running to and from the toilet area, counting charges and praying aloud.
By now, the sweat was pouring off me. Running a marathon would have been easier. And there was still a whole show to run.
Having been for the matinée performance, I found it trickier to watch the show second time round. Especially with my back to it, counting fairies and fixing fairy costumes. But the fairies loved it. The land of make believe and reality are all one to a little fairy so the witch in Swan Lake is just as real as all the swans. Just a lot scarier and maybe even a little too much for some of my candy canes.
Their concentration spans are different too. An hour into the show, some had forgotten why they were in the theatre and some had even fallen asleep. But we soon got the nod to shuffle the whole troupe backstage again. More seat flipping, more dancing in pairs and back around the labyrinth to a waiting room.
Troupes of princesses, swans, and shimmering jazz costumes move purposefully about backstage, and the little sugar cane fairies stood off stage watching. Two started to cry. All those bright lights and noise just overwhelmed their little fairy sensibilities. And anyway, every good fairy gets tired eventually and crying seems just the right thing to do.
Luckily, the other fairies paid no heed and couldn`t wait for their turn to go onstage.Neither could I.Sure, I wanted to see them dance but I was a very tired old fairy then ( or maybe even a wicked witch), and I just wanted to go home.
Soon their turn came. With twinkling starlight music they tripped along stage to a gasp of Ah! from the audience. And just as suddenly their dance in the footlights ended as their trotted backstage again following some willowy, sweet princess.
With the last fairy off stage and handed over to their proud parent, I was finally free. I tripped out into the cold night air glad to have done a little to help, glad to be among all that innocence for a little while but shattered after all of it.
Oh, I`d love a little fairy of my own again. But not twenty nine. Just the one.
And, even though I should have run yesterday, I wasn`t too sorry that the fairies took all my energy. After all this is ballet and this is Christmas. It only happens once a year.
And it is magic.