Ballet Slippers

posted Tuesday November 16th, 2010

Today I bought Sophie her first ballet slippers.

Not really the first, she’s had several pairs — but all hand-me-downs from Annabelle. Today Sophie and I went to the dance store together, marched in past the aerobics knits and tutus and back to the shoe department, where a nice young woman perched Sophie on a velvet step stool and slipped pink leather shoes on her tiny feet. Sophie was more excited about the nylon footies she had to wear to try on the slippers but she was happy with the ballet slippers, too.

I could have continued to get away with hand-me-down slippers for years, but I had to think of something to distract Sophie yesterday afternoon, while Annabelle was at ballet. It’s been two weeks since The Great Ballet Debacle. Last week I lied to Annabelle and said class was cancelled, and neither girl went. But this week I had to do it — pick the girls up at school, rush Annabelle to class, then figure out how to distract Sophie for an hour.

The ballet slippers took a good 45 minutes. Sophie insisted on putting them on in the car, and rushed into the ballet studio ahead of me. She scooted past the parents gathered outside the classroom, watching through windows, and stopped short in front of her (now former) teacher’s door.

“That’s my class!” she said, turning to me, confused.

I reached her just before she turned the door knob.

“NO!” I said, a little too sharply, snatching her up and trying to think fast, desperate for an option. I sent her into the other class — the older girls’ class, the one Annabelle takes. My mom’s the teacher, so I figured there wasn’t much harm in a small interruption, and Sophie settled onto a bench to watch, her slipper-clad feet dangling as she sucked hard on her thumb.

When class was over, Annabelle grabbed her ballet bag and headed for the door. Sophie wasn’t done — she loitered as an even older group of girls gathered for class. She got an extra-long hug from my mom, then practiced her skipping all the way out the door, seeming none the worst for the experience.

But I know better. I know Sophie. And on the way home, she asked me the question she’s been asking for the last two weeks. She asks it the way she begs me to tell her the story of when she choked on a mint last summer, like she wants to relive some exquisite misery. Or like she’s trying to figure something out.

“Mommy, why don’t I have class with [teacher's name] anymore?”

“Oh, it’s such a big rush on Mondays,” I said, as I keep saying. “And you’re tired after school. It’s better to just take ballet on Saturdays.”

She didn’t say anything, but I know. Sophie knows better.

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Tags: Filed under: Down syndrome by Amysilverman

One Response to “Ballet Slippers”

  1. You share. We care. Take this big ol’ hug.

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