Now 15, my niece N has got to be one of the most beautiful young ladies ever. She’s always had eyes the color of blue ice, her hair is so thick and long with the perfect amount of wave that she only needs to run a flat-iron through it and it’s straight. Every woman old or young would pay hundreds to have the NATURAL highlights that are uniquely hers. She pulls off a long oval face shape perfectly and now that the braces are gone she has the smile of an angel. My Cinderella.
Throughout her childhood she was chubby on the border of fat. Her father loading her dinner plate with food and telling her she had to finish it. He’s fat, also an ass with serious issues and I’ve never liked him. As time passed and the kids at school relentless with their comments about her weight, she took it upon herself to start loosing weight, eating better and exercising. Of course the natural progression of growth made her taller and her efforts to lose extra pounds turned her into a tall, sleek and perfectly shaped young woman. My Cinderella.
My sister and him ( her parents ) had her in their late 30’s and though that’s not too old, they are old-fashioned people. They have always been behind the times with her. Keeping their treasure under lock and key. Putting outdated rules and regulations on her that are so obsolete it ridiculous. I’ll try not to get into the parenting skills here as my focus is on her. Suffice to say she is being ( in my opinion ) locked in a castle of sorts. She has access to a wonderful education, her grades are stupendous, her attire adequate, her friends are good and her boyfriend is a great kid. They have a family membership at the Y, she is allowed to do whatever she wants activity wise so long as it’s at the Y. She has completed her two years of ” Counselor in Training ” so that next summer she can be a camp counselor for pay. She has completed her Lifeguard training at the Y. When she turns 16 she will be allowed to Lifeguard for pay. Her father, barely spoke to her all this past summer because he wanted her to work for pay! Yeah, really. Who does that? He makes her go grocery shopping with him every week. He makes her go to his office with him on the days her school is closed, she hates it. Why?, because he shows her off, it makes him look like a great dad and he is nothing but a big fat phony. At home he barely speaks to her. But she smiles and sucks it up. My Cinderella.
And I think, “where is my sister?”. It breaks my heart to say this but I think my sister has lost it too. She is on the edge, he is on the edge. They are both so consumed with their own demons that N is lost in the fray. Not allowed to do the things that good 15-16 year old kids do. No freedom outside the boundaries they have in place for her. Though I do believe in boundaries and limitations theirs are suffocating her.
When I saw her at a family party on Saturday I took her outside away from all and we talked. She loves me and will always open up to me. One of the many topics was her dancing again. ” My mother won’t let me because she can’t afford to pay for lessons and she doesn’t want to drive me around. But I miss dancing so much! ” I flashed back to when she was chosen to be on stage with the Moscow Ballet’s Nutcracker a few years back. MY girl danced as a fill in with the Moscow Ballet!
On Sunday while rethinking and digesting our conversation of the day prior, a plan started to form in my head. A phone call to another of my nieces, N2 who is like 35 now with 2 kids of her own. I told her about the desire her cousin N had for dancing again. N2 teaches dance, was a dancer for many years and has a key and free use of the studio she teaches at. I asked her if she would help me save Cinderella. Without a breath she said yes! Part one complete. I then called N with the plan. “I will come pick you up, N2 will give you FREE private dance lessons, I will bring you home.” Her voice cracked, her words soft and slow “Aunt Joshi I love you so much, I can’t believe this, I can’t believe this. I need this so bad. I need a break from my parents so bad. I want to dance again more than anything.” Part two complete.
Part three is gonna be the worst part. Getting my sister and him to agree to let her do this. My fear is that they will come up with some kind of convoluted reason she can’t. I will do all transportation and the lessons will be free. How can they say no? I told N that the stipulation is that she HAS to keep her school grades high. That will be the one thing parents will jump on and yank her for.
During my conversation with N2 I shared some of the shit this kid has been living with at home, I mentioned how I’d love to get her out of there more. That’s when N2 said she would LOVE to have N for a babysitter! Hm, that could work too. The kids know her, she’s with family and she is loved. Part four is getting N a couple ( if not more ) weekends a month to our side of town, with family, away from the train wrecks her parents have become. We will follow “their” rules to keep the doors open but we will also give her the chance to be, to laugh, to play, to dance. As a family we can save Cinderella.