Daddy Daughter Days do not happen as often as they did before, but on the rare occasion that I have a babysitter or family in town, I try to spend some quality one-on-one time with both Elaina and Gabriella. It is an excellent opportunity to bond with your child without sister interference, as they both tend to get frustrated when the other turns Dad’s attention away from them. Elaina is currently enrolled in ballet at her Child Development Center and she mentioned to me a few weeks ago that she really wanted to see the Nutcracker Ballet. Not really sure how she got this idea, but I aim to please. And it seemed like a good activity for a Daddy Daughter Day, which we have not had in a while. I got tickets for The Nutcracker, presented by Ballet Tucson, and Elaina was just ecstatic. She gets to wear a pretty dress and watch real ballerinas in action. I get to spend some quality time with my oldest daughter and broaden my horizons. Talk about a win-win scenario.
After letting her know that we were going, we had to start getting smart on what exactly we were getting ourselves into. We started off fairly easy, with a Disney Nutcracker starring Mickey Mouse. Of course she was happy with that, so we moved on with our education. I read to her the story of The Nutcracker from a book that we purchase at the Friends of the Sierra Vista Public Library bookstore. She loved it, but it was a little long for her taste. So far, so good. We finished by watching The Nutcracker on Netflix. This was certainly more of an adult version, but Elaina still watched the whole movie with me. We almost had a slight derailment in the beginning through, when she noticed that the part of the nutcracker was played by Macaulay Culkin, or as she knows him, that kid from Home Alone. After finally convincing her that he was not going to set traps on stage to protect the Christmas tree from dangerous robbers, she settled back into the movie. So she sat through three different versions of The Nutcracker, so I figured she was ready and would do pretty good during the performance. Plus, I finally knew more of what it was about, whereas before, I just thought that the nutcracker came alive and stabbed a giant rat (partly true!).
Right after I purchased the tickets, Elaina’s Step-Grandmother (Gigi) took her to the Disney store where she absolutely fell in love with a pristine white Nutcracker dress. Gigi is a softie when it comes to the girls and in no time at all Elaina was trying on the dress. Unfortunately, they did not have her size, so the poor girl had to wait a week for the right size to arrive in the mail. And when it finally came, she just stared at it, smiling from ear-to-ear, before telling me that she did not want to even try it on until the big day. Having said that though, once that big day arrived, she wanted to put the dress on immediately, before both her morning cartoons and pancakes with syrup. Thankfully, I avoided that inevitable disaster, and she was just happy to put it on right before we left.
After the dress was on, it was time to do her hair. I am by no means a hair stylist, but after having a lot of practice, I can make a mean ponytail and have become pretty proficient at pigtails. Buns, not so much. And apparently all ballerinas have to have buns. Damn. Even after watching videos and how-to guides, it was the wrong time to discover that I do not even have any bobby pins in the house. So I did the best I could, but was just not satisfied with the end results. Feeling utterly defeated, I forgot that my opinion did not matter in the least. Elaina took one look at her “bun” and loved it, telling me that it was perfect and not to try to fix it again (I think I was on my fifth attempt by this time). Hey kid, if you are happy, Dad is happy. I will cover it more in a post on how to manage and style little girls’ hair, but I can always do better.
Upon arriving at the Tucson Music Hall, she must have seen the imaginary red carpet being rolled out, because Princess Elaina immediately starting walking with grace and poise towards the doors. She must have had at least five compliments on her dress before we even got inside, of which she always responds with a thank you and a slight curtsy (This is what I get for reading and letting her watch Fancy Nancy). The lady that checked our tickets even called her a princess, which led her to somehow believe that I had called them in advance to let them know that she was coming. Passing by the concessions, Elaina noticed that they had Kit-Kat bars (her favorite), and pleaded with me to have one. Unfortunately for me (and later her dress), it is really tough to say no to her on Daddy Daughter Days. Program, Kit-Kat, and water in hand, we proceeded to our seats.
When the lights went down and the curtain went up, Elaina was just in complete awe. She immediately told me that the stage looked exactly like the movie that we watched. She even followed along fairly well, telling me when the nutcracker was going to get broken (Do I need to preface this with SPOILERS if the ballet is over a hundred years old?) and when the mice were going to attack. Unfortunately (but understandably), the music hall did not allow pictures or videos during the performance, so you will just have to visualize how amazing it was. While she thoroughly enjoyed the first act, she was slightly disappointed that there was not more ballet, and was certainly ready for the intermission when it came. The second act was a different story though, as it was almost entirely about dancing. There were entire segments of ballerinas dancing en pointe, which filled Elaina with glee. After reading a few children’s books on ballet, she thinks that this is the pinnacle of being a ballerina, so any time that she sees it she immediately thinks that she is looking at one of the finest dancers in the world (she even got to see real en pointe shoes during the intermission, but was disappointed when I would not buy them for her). While still in the Land of Sweets of Act II, Elaina started to get tired and asked if we could leave. She had done a great job throughout the performance, so I obliged and we departed a little early.
Needless to say, we had a great time. It was an amazing performance, Elaina thoroughly enjoyed it (while looking fabulous), and Dad had some quality time with his first-born while realizing that ballet is just beautiful to watch in person. A good time was had by all and I heartily thank Ballet Tucson for their exquisite dancers. Thank you very much for checking in on us. And now I have to start planning Gabby’s special day, if I can ever get a babysitter for Elaina. Cheers!