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The Curse of the Sugar Plum Fairy

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What is it about me and the Nutcracker Ballet?
 I am cursed.

My friends, I live my life under the Curse of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

That curse is a little known phenomenon, but it has to do with a person who chooses to go to a kiddie version of the ballet. Here in Nashville we have a performance known as the Mini-Nutcracker. It’s a perfectly lovely production, danced by young school-aged dancers who have been trained by our most excellent Metro Parks Ballet program, and honest to goodness, the reason that I go back year after year is because they do such a wonderful job. Well, that, and to support friends of ours who have daughters who dance in the production. It’s kind of tradition for my daughter and two of her closest friends, and so almost without exception, year after year it’s our holiday tradition.

But there is apparently an accompanying tradition/curse that goes with me to that performance.

No matter where our seats are, invariably, I get the kid behind me who has to assert his individuality and his right to have strong preferences to the rest of the world. Frankly, what’s going on in the row behind me has become almost as much a part of the show for me as what’s going on on the stage. “What will the show going on behind my back entail THIS year?” I wonder.

A couple of years ago, there was a row full of 5 and 6 year old kids who were there unattended by parents. They weren’t dressed quite as nicely as some of the other little “dolled-up for the holiday” tots surrounding me. I’m pretty sure that some kind soul had driven them in from the inner-city. At least, their speech patterns reminded me of some of the kids I used to work with at the elementary school where I used to work in the inner city. They were excited to be at the show, and pretty much operating without boundaries, with no adult seated near them to provide any.

So when I broke out my package of gum and got myself a piece and offered a piece to my friend sitting next to me, the kid BEHIND me, (I’ll call him Marcel), Marcel felt not the least bit of hesitation in regard to asking for my gum. All of it. He wanted to give it to all his buds.

 “Hey, lady: you gonna chew all dat?”
“Well…not at the moment….”
“Could me and my friends have it?”

So, Marcel got gum for everyone, making him the man of the hour amongst his compadres, and they all  began enthusiastically chawing away.

And then, the seat kicking began. Unintentional, to be sure, but the rows of seats in that theater are close, and Marcel was antsy. And wiggly. And restless. And excited.

And then, of course, there was the conversation. Pretty loud conversation.

“I know dat paht’s comin’. Dat paht where dah Shoogah Plum comes. She so fine. She really, really pretty. An’ she dances so niiiice. I love dah Shoogah Plum. Mah teachah tole me all about dah Shoogah Plum.”

“Is this it? Is this dah paht?”

“Where is she? Where is dah Shoogah Plum?”

“Here she come! Here she come!!! Deh go dah Shoogah Plum!”

I’m hoping you remember the actual musical theme of the Sugar Plum Fairy, in order for you to “hear” the proper tune that goes along with the next part of my story, where Marcel began to SING ALONG to the music, in the middle of the ballet performance, with his very own made-up lyrics:

“Dink-a-dink-dink dink dink,
Here she come, Shoogah Plum,
Shoogah Plum,
Shoogah Shoogah Plum!”

By this point, I had long since left being annoyed, and had moved on through and past incredulity, and was so deep into complete bemusement that tears were running down my face. I was silently laughing so hard my seat was shaking.

I’m convinced that Marcel has a future as a very successful rapper in front of him.

And then, there was this year.

My daughter and I fondly remembered Marcel on our drive into town, and wondered what the back row entertainment would be this year. Turned out that this year, It was a toddler. Also skilled in the art of seat kicking.

Mamas, I KNOW it’s hard to get a babysitter, and expensive as well, and your toddler will miss out on the opportunity to see his big sister dance in the Nutcracker.

But let me give you a little hint: your toddler REALLY doesn’t care. He/she REALLY doesn’t want to be there. And if you insist on taking him/her to this wonderful cultural experience, in order to expand your toddler’s horizons, and tighten the familial bond within your family, you will only inspire a clash of wills so fierce, so strong, that a similar struggle has not been fought since the battle that raged on The Sands of Iwo Jima. I kid you not. And YOUR enjoyment of the show will be the very first casualty of the battle.

I’m telling you there was a match going on behind me this year that ProWrestling would have been proud to have hosted: A Mommy/Toddler Smackdown of Epic proportions, punctuated by:

Mommy: “Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Toddler, wailing: “Nooooooooooooooo!!!!”

Mommy, whispering loudly through gritted teeth: “Ssssssssit DOWN!!!!”

Toddler: “Oooooooooooooowwwwwwwwww!!!!”

Mommy: “SSSSShhhhhhhhhhh!!!!”

Grunts, groans, body slams into seat.

Toddler: “AAAAAAAAGGGGGHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Mommy, hissing: “I said BE QUIET!!!!”

And all of this occurring as The Exquisite Sugar Plum gracefully twirls and struts her time on the stage.

She KNOWS she’s torturing me. I know it! I see it in the smug set of her delicate features. And yet, on she pirouettes, as my brain sloshes against the interior wall of my skull, as my neck muscles seize in whiplash from repeated jarring kicks to the back of my seat.



Part of our tradition is to meet my daughter’s friends and go with them to the performance, so here’s a sweet picture that we snapped in the park of my own ballerina, and some of her buds. It doesn’t really relate to the story, but I thought you might enjoy it.

Growing up too fast to suit me.

Is it just me? Am I the only one to be cursed by the Sugar Plum Fairy?

Tell me your Nutcracker tales of woe!