Having a Child with Down Syndrome, Part XCVIII: Backstage Dad

Copyright © 2016 Stephen Hawley, all rights reserved.

Another spring means another ballet. Alice was cast in Sleeping Beauty as a Forest Nymph. Usually, the ballet has a parent for every group of younger kids who will help supervise, but Alice’s group is fairly push button. Well, except for Alice. E and I agreed that I would be backstage dad so that she and Stuart could watch her perform. This meant that I took her to the theater, ensured that she got her make up on and kept it on, got into costume, helped her up the rickety stairs to the wings and back down again at after her time on stage.

Part of the process of being a parent of any child is being able to reliably predict what your child is likely to do and to have appropriate rewards and consequences for their actions, choosing which battles to fight and which to let slide.

In Alice’s case, I knew that impulsivity was going to be a problem and that it would be best to promise a trip to Herrell’s ice cream between her two performances today as a reward for good behavior. This also solves another problem of her being cooped up the basement of the theater. When Alice gets bored, she starts getting into things and I wasn’t going to willingly put us both through that.

So hooray, her behavior was good and we went to Herrell’s for the reward:

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And, of course, because I know my daughter, there is no chocolate in that cup. You’d think chocolate sprinkles or chocolate sauce would make a great addition to this, but for whatever reason, chocolate kicks Alice’s salivary glands into overdrive which ends up leaking out the side of her mouth and given that her leotard is white, well you understand.

Waiting for the second performance was harder. I gave Alice a little more rope and she did well up to a point, playing Go Fish with some other girls, but I had to step in when impulsivity took over. I had her sitting next to me on the bombed out couch with a litter of younger girls, which was tantamount to trying to sit on a couch with 5 very large wiggly puppies. They had a lot of energy to spare.

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I don’t know how much longer Alice will be doing ballet, but I believe that at present, it is still a very good thing for her.

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