When she came into my office and saw it lying on my desk she gave me a disappointed inquiring look, and I shook my head and said, "Sorry, Em, I knocked it off the fridge. I have to find some glue and put it back together."
The following week her mother took her to the dress rehearsal. Dress rehearsals always run long. I honestly didn't expect them back for five hours, and in fact, I think they arrived just shy of that at four and a half hours. Despite the time, though, both were animated.
Leslie was gushing. Apparently strides were made. The performance was spectacular. I would be SO impressed. Emma fell three times during acro...it didn't even matter because the rest was SO GOOD. And so on.
I was dutifully intrigued. And not even dutifully so much as genuinely. I wanted to see the show. Leslie's a tough sell. If she thought the dances (Jazz/ballet/contemporary/acro) were good...certainly she was the "dance mom" of our family.
The next day was the recital. I got home a little early. They'd ordered pizza so we could eat and run. The recital didn't start until 7, but Emma had to be there early, and I really only had about a half hour to eat before I needed to hop in the car and drive Lily to the performance. Leslie took Emma within ten minutes of my arrival, and Leslie's parents soon followed to go save seats.
Lily looked tired. Lily looked more than tired, she looked drained. She walked over to me and put her head down on my chest as I sat eating my pizza. And...just stayed like that. For her to initiate any sort of snuggle is rare. For her to maintain it almost always means she's sick. She broke away from me after about five minutes to sit down at the chair next to mine at the table. She climbed into it and briefly put her head down on the table.
"Are you okay, Lil?" No response. A response is 50/50 anyway, so I didn't read too much into it. I fired a text off to Leslie, who was already at the auditorium.
Lily loves the recitals. We have the last two years recitals on DVD, and we watch them probably twice a day every day. They are called Pink and Purple (for the color of the graphics on the outside of the DVD) and Lily knows all the dancers' names and sings along with the songs. I knew once the show started she'd be fine, I just wanted to see if I could get her a little more comfortable.
I checked her back and she felt cool. But sometimes she perks up if she has a little dose of Tylenol in her to...dampen...whatever it is that's making her feel "off". We give her Tylenol with a syringe...just squirt it into her mouth and she swallows it pretty easily. The trick though, is to get that first taste. Once she does, she usually drinks it out of the syringe instead of making you put it in her cheek to swallow.
She really fought me, ducking her head away, pushing the syringe. "Lily, this is going to make you feel better, baby. You just need to take the medicine." She wasn't buying it. I finally held her arms and made her take it. One long squirt and she swallowed it and it was done. Or was it?
Because the next moment she was throwing it up, throwing it all up and not just the Tylenol but the Tylenol the raspberry ice drink, and the pizza, all mixed together...on her shirt, on the carpet, on the couch, on me. And it really was all my fault.
At 6:34 I texted Leslie to tell her that Lily threw up. I was so crestfallen...I really really did not want to miss this recital, not any part of it. I was dashing from sink to Lily. Lily remained remarkably still while I sprinted back and forth trying to clean the couch, the carpet, and her. I finally cleaned enough that I needed to get her in the bath. I ran upstairs and started the water and ran back downstairs to get Lily. We stripped off her clothes and I wadded them into a ball outside the bathroom.
"I'm like The Wolf from Pulp Fiction, Lily. We'll get you cleaned up right away."
I think fast, I talk fast and I need you guys to act fast if you wanna get out of this. So, pretty please... with sugar on top. Clean the fucking car.But unlike Winston Wolfe, my brain jammed on the topic of what to do with Lily once she was clean. Was she sick? She wasn't acting it now. Put her jammies on her and wait for the sitter? Take her to the recital? It was six of one and a half dozen of the other...or as my wife used to say, "six half dozen of the other." I was stuck in a loop. I called Leslie.
"What should I do?"
"Just get her here and we can figure it out later."
Fair enough. That was all it took. Whatever the loop was, she nudged me out of my ineffective orbit and all the pieces started falling into place: Lily washed and clean, new clothes on, my clothes stripped off and me redressed, dirty clothes soaking in the washing machine, couch cleaned, carpet sprayed and wiped.
At 6:51, 17 minutes after "the mess" I texted Leslie to tell her I was "Just leaving". Then I called and told her to have one of the grandparents meet me outside to take Lily so I could park the car. I was sweating from stress and exertion, but on my way.
At 7:00 Leslie told me that the lights were dark but they hadn't started the opening number yet...but I was pulling into the parking lot, my dad was out front waiting. I slowed to a stop in front of him and got out of the car, walking around to Lily's side to unbuckle her and hand her over to Papa. He took her in as I drove away to find a spot.
I caught a break and found a parking spot relatively close and hurried into the building, catching Lily and Papa in the hall after producing my ticket at the entry and hurrying to catch up. We entered the auditorium. It was still dark, and my eyes adjusted just quickly enough to dodge a couple chairs that had been placed to block two of the rows near the back that the camera crew was using to film the recital.
I was still sweating, but the auditorium was cool, and I was inside, and we weren't late. The show hadn't started.
What a show! She was great. I'm sure the other kids were too, but I couldn't take my eyes off her. She glowed...she emoted...she danced so well. And I don't know shit about dancing, but Emma has something when she's on stage. She's captivating. Meh...I'm just her dad, but she seemed so ON that night.
I took Lily home to the sitter midway through the recital when there was a big break between Emma's dances. She was back to normal, happy Lily. I got back in plenty of time to watch the rest. It was beautiful. I was elated. I hadn't missed it.
Signs can be interpreted so many different ways. I wrote a post about it once on Childswork. The severed limb from the kitchen magnet likeness of Emma? I guess that was just the universe telling her to "break a leg".