Monday, 21 June 2010

Date night

It's Friday night and I am fizzing with anticipation. I am going on a date. I have two tickets to see Swan Lake at the Albert Hall. I love a ballet, particularly a proper one complete with sparkly tutus and the promise of lots of en pointe. My date is getting dressed, he has chosen a crisp white shirt over skinny grey jeans. His hair is golden, his eyes a striking clear blue and as we walk out of the door together he slips his hand into mine.

My boy and I are going out on the town. No brothers to bother us, just him and me and a whole evening of delights to look forward too. He sits in the front of the car, a rare treat, and helps me to shout at the sat nav. We agree that she has no idea how to navigate London's clog of evening traffic.

Following a mix of her instructions and my instinct ensures that we are late and our pre-theatre supper morphs into a hurried McDs. What a shame, but the boy assures me this is a good thing as 'Now we have to go out for dinner together to make up for it.' He is already planning our next night out, so he must be having fun.

He has his first taste of a black cab. The first he hates thanks to its overpowering air freshener fragrance. It's like swallowing down a fug of recently sprayed perfume, coating our throats with its cloying scent. The second is driven by a typical London cabby, he chats away to the boy about the ballet we are about to see.

The Albert Hall sits like a pink and cream wedding cake, a carved and elaborate confection paying homage to a queen's great love. It throngs with people dressed up to the nines or down in jeans, dinner jackets rub shoulders with sweatshirts, until ticket stubs direct us to our rightful seats. The smart to the boxes and the up close and personal rows, the jeans and sweaters up to the The Gods, to crane down to catch a glimpse of the action.

We are somewhere in between. The adults seated next to us, eye my boy warily. Will he last the night without spoiling theirs by fidgeting and talking? I want to tell them it will be fine, he is special, he is no ordinary six-year-old boy. But they will look upon me as an overindulgent and deluded mother. I decide to let his behaviour speak for itself.

He is wreathed in excitement. Looking down on the round, inky stage, spotting the orchestra taking their seats. Silent and awed by the arrival of the dancers. That said we agree that the first act is a bit boring - the costumes are brown and dull, the dances lack thrills and we both await the arrival of the swans to add their magic.

We are not disappointed. Dry ice fogs the stage, turning it into a misty lake upon which elegant white swans dance and float. When they bow down to allow the prima ballerina her solo, my sons says they look like clams, their skirts forming irridescent shells.

We are entranced and enthralled. My boy spots a trapdoor from which the monster arises, green tendrils of his costume flying, sending bad will spiralling across the stage. Neither of us really knows the story, but it hardly matters, it's the spectacle the counts.

When the show ends he rushes down the stairs to find the back entrance where the dancers had stepped in from. He dashes behind curtains, pursued by the disapproving glances of the staff who are trying to shut up shop. He finds the box that holds all the lighting controls, peering through a keyhole at the many dials and buttons, but there is no sign of those elusive dancers. They are all wiping off greasepaint and hanging up costumes ready for tomorrow's performance.

We walk back to our car through the damp night. It late, hours after bedtime, but his eyes shine in the streetlights, all thoughts of sleep banished by the thrill of being up so late. I assume he will sleep in the car, but instead he is awake to discuss the bits we loved, the bits we didn't and when can we do it all again.

He says to me. 'Thank you mummmy. You are the best mummy in the whole world'. I say that is only because I have the best son in the world. It is true. It's a perfect date. He behaves immpeccably even though it is almost midnight. He is the perfect companion; handsome, engaged, interesting and appreciative.

If only the effect didn't wear off after midnight and the next morning I find him fighting over the Xbox controller with his brother and I am brought back down to earth with a bump.


  1. Ahh, sounds wonderful. The perfect date! I wish my boys could sit through a ballet - got a few years to go on that one, I think. Might try Toy Story 3, first.

  2. Ah, what a special evening. Magical moment until things return to normal the next day.