My daughter stands atop our coffee table like it’s a stage. She raises her hands gracefully above her head and circles her toe as if she’s stirring a pool of water. “It’s ballet,” she announces proudly. “I’m doing ballet”.

“Yes,” I respond. “It’s beautiful.”

“I need to wear ballet!” she says gesturing to her naked torso.

“Do you mean you want your tutu?” I ask.

“Yes, I want my ballet.”

I run to her dress up basket and bring in the half dozen tutus that we received after announcing that we’d had a girl.

She quickly chooses the one with the most adornment and immediately begins dancing wildly around the room.

“Come mommy come,” she says, waving her arms and summoning my inner ballerina.

Within seconds I’m snaking my body around standing lamps and chairs.

My daughter claps, “You need a tutu too!”

“Oh no…” I say, “I couldn’t…I mean…well…maybe I could…”

I decide I’ll give it a shot. I stretch the elastic, I suck in my stomach, and by some divine intervention I manage to squeeze myself in.


The strangest thing happens.

I suddenly feel like a ballerina, a real ballerina.

I leap.

I do these spins where I’m just rotating and rotating like I’m standing atop a turntable!

And I’m really fucking good.

It’s like those tennis shoe commercials from the eighties – the ones where there’s some scrawny average Joe who puts on a pair of Air Jordan’s and suddenly starts making slam-dunks.

And though I haven’t taken a ballet class in twenty years, and though I once almost got kicked out of The Nutcracker for being overenthusiastic and under-coordinated, I start feeling like Mikhail Baryshnikov might walk through my door at any minute and tell me I’m his muse.

I feel like I have this gift, this talent that has somehow gone undiscovered. And I start wondering, “How could I have gotten this far without ever knowing I was a ballet genius?” And I suddenly feel sad for all the ballets I was never in.

And I look over at my daughter now gyrating and flapping her arms and I think, “Well maybe she’ll be that ballerina that I never was and never knew I wanted to be.”

And I start clapping for her, and encouraging her to go “faster and bigger” and saying, “Ohhh, what a twirl!” and “Ohhh, what a leap!”  I start imagining how it will all play out- the classes, the performance, the scholarship to Julliard.

And then it hits me. “This it how it happens. It’s a simple moment. It’s a small flicker of longing and it suddenly makes you want to live through your children.”

I take the tutu off.

“You can be anything you want,” I say.

My daughter looks confused.

“Huh?” she asks.

“Nothing” I say, “Just grownup stuff”

And I go in the other room, leaving her alone with the music.

And she dances…and dances… and dances.