It's my Sweet Niece's 5th birthday today.
I went to her ballet recital last weekend...when she was still 4. She's in 'pre-ballet', but wants to try hip-hop next year. The recital cost $12 and it was in an Arts Centre. It was assigned seating. There were video clips! Of superheroes! And a fog machine! And big kids! Serious business.
Dear Girl was on the stage for about 90 seconds, as she pointed her toes and paraded around the stage in her leotard and tutu, following in a line behind her teacher. It was a Dora-themed number. I grinned and grinned.
Toward the end, I was watching some 8-year-olds do lyrical, and I got a bit teary. I just realized that the thing that is most precious to me in the world (one of 12 Things, actually) was performing on stage in front of a couple of hundred people, smiling. And that about 150 people's Most Precious Thing was on the stage, bearing themselves in costumes and bravely expressing themselves, dancing. I just about exploded with pride for her and every other kid on stage and every other parent or grandparent or auntie or uncle who was holding their breath and loving on those kids.
Afterwards, she feigned exhaustion and wanted to be carried, then sauntered off like nothing happened. I wonder if she, or my other nieces and nephews, will ever understand the depth of the love or pride we have for them. The held breaths and hearts walking around outside our chests, all exposed and beautiful. Maybe. But for now, she's just 5.