“Rah rah Rasputin!” cries Morgenstern, age 6, a dream of pink in her bunny pajamas. “Viking Metal!”
So on goes the Turisas cover of the Boney M classic.
Morgenstern boogies and ballet steps around me in the kind of odd fusion dancing only truly available to the under-10s.
The track finishes. I slip into my study – really just a cupboard off the living room – and turn the music off.
“Oh, is this your practice sword,” says my daughter, following me. She’s found one of the plastic practice swords I’m storing over the Christmas break. She wouldn’t touch my metal swords without permission, but she’s picked up this thing. It’s taller than she is.
“Sort of,” I say, a little embarrassed by the thing. “I prefer steel ones. But I have sore elbows.”
“Look, Daddy,” she says. “I can lift it….”
I lunge forward and reposition her little hands. “Right hand near the cross. Left hand by the pommel.” I step back. “Now hold it over your head like this.”
Her hands go into a creditable first attempt at the high version of Vom Tag.
“Now bend your legs, feet apart,” I say. “Bring the sword down like this and step at the same time.”
Morgenstern steps forward and brings the sword down to hit the carpet.
“Pretty good,” I say. “But your sword and foot have to land at the same time… Let’s have another go tomorrow when it’s light outside.”
Morgenstern shakes her head, making her long tangled “princess” hair snake. “Let me try again.” She’s shrugged off the cute like an entangling cloak and is ready to learn. Up comes the sword, then down… She lunges at the same time, something she has picked up from her older brother.
“Good I say. But that was the front foot. You need to bring the back foot forward instead.” I demonstrate.
She nods, raises the sword, and cuts. This time she steps behind her attack. Right foot swings forward and lands just as her plastic blade does.
“Fantastic!” I say and hug her. “You cut a Scheitelhau down into Alber.”
Then I read her a bed time story and she snuggles up with her pandas.
As I set up her MP3 player loaded with princess stories, I reflect that her ballet lessons have taught her the meta skill of learning physical skills. When she is older, they may empower her in ways that are neither cute nor girly.