posted Friday January 9th, 2015
This morning I found a pointe shoe on top of the dryer. I don’t know how it got there or whose it is (not so unusual, you wouldn’t believe what I find in the bottom of my purse on a regular basis) but I do know it does not belong to Sophie.
Earlier this week, I got an email from the principal at Sophie’s school. A teacher has volunteered to run an after-school drama club. It’s not the drama elective that Sophie asked for initially — we were told in no uncertain terms that kids from Sophie’s school (even honors students) cannot take classes at the gifted academy next door (this has me itching to do some reporting, but that’s for another post) — but it’s drama at school and Sophie is pleased.
It’s an important reminder to us all that if you put your mind to something, you can make it happen.
But last night I was reminded that while she can do a lot — attend junior high with her typical peers, cheer at basketball games, convince her school to start a drama club — there are some things Sophie simply will not be able to do.
Like dance on pointe.
Annabelle has danced on pointe since she was 11, the magic age that many girls at our studio get the pink satin shoes. I’ve been waiting for months for Sophie to ask where her own pointe shoes are — she turned 11 in May — and it finally happened last night. Annabelle was complaining that her shoes are a little big, and we were discussing making an appointment for a fitting.
“Hey, it’s time for me to get pointe shoes!” Sophie announced. “I’m 11.”
“Oh shit,” I thought. There’s no good answer to the question. Physically, Sophie is not capable. Not now, anyway. To back up a bit, you need to know that lots of kids aren’t. Sophie’s ballet teacher (who happens to be my mother) requires her students to take at least three classes a week to prepare for pointe, which is very physically demanding. Even then, some girls are never ready.
Sophie has not taken the required classes, for various reasons — partly because I haven’t wanted to set her up for failure. Now, it’s true that if you google “Down syndrome” and “pointe shoes” you’ll find some videos of girls with DS who are dancing on pointe. I did that years ago. My mom did it last night, after I emailed to warn her Sophie finally asked for pointe shoes. She was less convinced than ever that’s a good idea.
On this one, Sophie might just have to take no for an answer. Annabelle takes 10 dance classes a week; my mother is the only person on the planet more paranoid and safety conscious than I am, and even at that I worry about my older daughter being strong enough to go on pointe. Unless Sophie is willing to give up several things she loves — cheer, swimming, track, and yes, drama — to devote herself completely to ballet and attend many classes, she may still never be ready. At the moment, she’s still in a beginning ballet class.
I woke up this morning ready with a bunch of answers, in case the topic came up. I was going to tell her that Annabelle doesn’t get to be on cheer, that not every girl in ballet goes on pointe, that it hurts a lot. That sometimes life isn’t fair. But Sophie didn’t mention it. I’m going to sweep that errant pointe shoe into a laundry basket and move on — and hope Sophie does, too.