On Saturday, I piled into a mini-van with my two boys, three nieces, and my parents to see the Nutcracker Suite at Lincoln Center. Jonah has done this annual outing with my parents before, but it was Ian's first trip. We weren't sure how it was going to go. He was either going to feast on the music and enjoy the ballet at an entirely different level than the rest of us or he was going to stuff his fingers in his ears and howl in pain from the noise.
We prepped him for weeks ahead of time. When I pulled the Christmas music out of the attic, he immediately remembered that number 11 was he favorite track on the Nutcracker CD. He set the CD player to repeat Track 11 until someone screamed at him to knock it off. I think it's the Russian Dance.
We got there early to get a good parking space and killed some time at a diner before the show. When we found our seats, we noticed that there were more old people there than kids – old people who probably wouldn't be patient if I had to run out of the place with Ian. That upped the stress level a notch.
When the curtain went up, Ian jammed his fingers into his ears, but he also had a huge smile on his face. I whispered to him explaining the story. The crazy uncle brought presents for the kids. The naughty boy broke the nutcracker and the girl is sad. I didn't really need to explain. Ian has always had to interpret movements, because words are confusing.
I've been fascinated with the Grigori Perelman for awhile. He's one of the keenest and most unconventional mathematicians in the world. He solved a hundred year old math problem, but didn't submit the answer to a peer reviewed journal. He published his findings on the Internet. My hero. The New Yorker had a great article on him a few years ago.
The New York Times reviews a new biography of him. They author describes his personal habits – a restricted diet, lives at home with his mother, wears the same clothes every day. "Stuck with a tricky problem, the young Perelman would bounce a Ping-Pong ball against his desk, vigorously rub his thigh and hum or moan until he had the answer."
In the second act, Ian's favorite song came on. The dancers flew threw the air, but my eyes were on Ian. He fingers were out of his ears and he was sitting on the edge of his seat. Perfect joy. He said, "I need to see the instruments."
When I tucked the boys in at night, I asked Ian whether he preferred the first part of the ballet or the second part. He snuggled under the blankets and said, "both parts."