The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Saturday, October 04, 2008


A Boy Can be Anything He Wants! -- Even a Rockette?!?

My son, Mateo, wants to be a Rockette.

He saw them twice last year on television, first performing at the Thanksgiving Day Parade and then in a one-hour special during their annual Christmas Spectacular.

From the minute that line of thirty-six tap-dancing showgirls shuffled onto the TV screen wearing furry red Santa skirts and dazzling smiles, Mateo was transfixed. My normally rambunctious three-year-old boy sat staring at the images as though he’d been hit with a stun-gun.

“Look, there are the girls on a double-decker bus! Sneaking around in Santa’s workshop! And now getting shot by a cannon and falling backward—stiff, like this!—in outfits like wooden soldiers!”

Of course, Mateo is growing up in a household where the word “Rockette” is bandied about regularly in casual conversation. My eighty-year-old mother, Mateo’s grandmother, was a Rockette. (Or I should say is a Rockette, because as anyone with a Rockette in his or her family knows, one never stops being a Rockette, in the same way one never stops being a movie star.)

During mealtime, Mateo gazes at a photo on our kitchen wall of his Grandma Gerry at eighteen, hands on hips as she poses in a sequined leotard on the roof of Thirty Rockefeller Center, home to Radio City Music Hall and the “World’s Greatest Stage.” Not to mention Mateo’s familiarity with the scale model of the Music Hall at my parents’ home in San Diego, the shrine to my mother’s career of framed newspaper clippings, the closets full of top hats and canes. These objects are among Mateo’s cherished playthings.

“Can boys even be Rockettes?” I ask my husband, Tim. I secretly hoped it would be our six-year-old daughter, Olivia, who followed in my mother’s footsteps—that is, I hastily assure Tim, in between Olivia’s training for the Olympics and getting short-listed for the Nobel Prize.

Not Mateo. Not my only son.

“Our children can be anything they want to be,” Tim says, intoning his usual mantra.

I phone my mother and pose the question again.

“Not boys, not yet,” Mom answers. “It could happen eventually.” She pauses to consider the likelihood of Mateo making the cut, even then. “I’m afraid he’s a little short, though.”

“I don’t mean now….”

“And I don’t think he’s got the legs.”

She says this regretfully because, as we both know, there’s nothing anyone can do about “the legs”: You’re either born with exquisitely shaped Rockette legs, or you’re not. I’m the perfect example of not being born with these two natural gifts, which explains why I’ve spent my career toiling in front of a computer as an office drone, instead of captivating audiences with my high kicks.

“I don’t get it,” I say. “Mateo loves fire trucks and cement mixers. He’s all boy. Maybe it’s the sparkles he likes. The pounding sound the tap shoes make. Like thunder.”

“Mmm,” my mother says. It’s no mystery to her why Mateo or anyone else would want to be a Rockette. To my mother, “Rockette” is the greatest job title in the world.

“Have you been following Dancing with the Stars?” she asks. “A line of girls are dancing on next week’s show.”

I check the calendar and sigh. Tuesday night. Mateo and I will be watching.

By Jessica O’Dwyer

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This is the cutest thing I hav ever heard in my life. OF COURSE he wants to be Rockette!How could he not? I think its wonderful and a little sad that he surely will grow out of this fascination. Enjoy it while you can! My little brother used to want to be a Solid Gold Dancer!
So cute! How cool to have a Rockette in the family?!
I love how your Mom actually *considers* the possibility of her grandson following in her footsteps! This is a delight!
Great post.

I love how your mom appraises the likelihood based on Mateo's legs and height, not his gender.

You go, boy!

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