The truth is, I am realizing, sweet E is a homebody. She's not going to thrill to any aftercare program because she doesn't really want to be anywhere. She wants to come home to her mama and daddy and brother and sister and keep us all together happily ever after amen.
The problem is, of course, the other four of us have different opinions and schedules. And so E has resigned herself to aftercare, accepting their snacks and their crafts but begrudging her heart or excitement.
She only goes three days a week, and two of the days have special activities as a portion of the afternoon. On Mondays, E now takes ballet. And no matter how much she expresses frustration with aftercare as a general concept, she's thrilled with the ballet. She's asked to take ballet for years and we never before fit it into our schedule.
She comes home on Mondays and sits me down in the living room so that I may enjoy her ballet performance. Releve, Releve, return to first position, she says, talking to herself in her instructor's voice. If your mind is concentrating on your form, you don't mind the hardness of the floor she tells me from our brown carpet as she drops to her back and raises her legs toward the ceiling.
I never took ballet lessons and I never studied French and I have no idea what she's saying, these words that come out in a pattern, stanza and chorus, arms swooping and falling, toes pointed and flat. She's inside herself. She's a vision.
And just like that, we have a little ballerina in our midst.