All my life I have wanted to be a dancer. I sat and danced to music even before I could walk. And as soon as I could walk, I danced around in circles, even if the only music I could hear was Mom humming while she went about her day.
I have taken dance lessons since I was three, and I have always dreamed that when I was big enough, I would dance in the Nutcracker Ballet at Christmastime.
When I turned eight, soon after I had been baptized, I joined a new ballet school. I was very excited to learn that this school held workshops for children who wanted to try out for the Nutcracker. My mom checked to see if I needed to be older or dance with the school longer, but we were told that everything was fine. I signed up right away for the extra classes I needed, and I practiced every time I had a chance. I felt wonderful—I was going to audition for the Nutcracker! My dreams were coming true.
I kept going to class and practicing until it was almost time for the audition. I was very excited the day my ballet teacher gave me the form to fill out for it. I handed it to Mom right after class and asked if we could turn it in right away. I was so excited that I hadn’t taken the time to read it. Mom said that we could, but then, as she read over the form, she discovered that children trying out had to be at least nine years old. She said that maybe we should ask some more questions before we filled out the form.
She called, and sure enough, I would have to be nine. We were also told that many moms just took their children and filled out the form as if they were nine. Mom made another call to the ballet school to ask what to do about the extra classes I had signed up for to prepare me for the audition. She was told that she could withdraw me from the class, keep me in and say that I was nine at the audition, or keep me in and not audition and just use the extra classtime in preparation for next year’s audition. They said the choice was ours to make.
When Mom finished talking to the ballet school, we went to my room, where it was quiet. She gave me a long look that let me know that she knew that this was very important to me. She said, “Emily, you have wanted to dance in this ballet all of your life. You are a very good girl. Our family has had many lessons on choosing the right. You have had Primary lessons on it, too. A few months ago, you were baptized and given the gift of the Holy Ghost. You are old enough to make an important choice. You need to pray to Heavenly Father and listen for the prompting of the Holy Ghost. Heavenly Father gave us agency so we could choose, but we also have to accept the consequences of our choices. I cannot go to the rehearsal and say that you are nine when you are not. This is a choice that you must make. I trust that you are a good girl. I love you.”
Then she left me in my room to think. I wondered if she would come back soon to tell me that I could go and make it all right, or to tell me that I couldn’t because it would not be honest. She didn’t.
Two more weeks went by, and I had decided many times that it would be all right if I went to the audition because I am tall and look like I am nine. Heavenly Father would understand, just this once, wouldn’t He? After all, I have always wanted to do this. It was my dream.
I decided just as many times that I would not go to the audition because that would be dishonest.
I felt like I was riding a seesaw up and down—go to the audition, or not. I prayed and prayed and tried to listen for the Holy Ghost. I thought a lot about what Jesus would want me to do. How would He feel about my choice?
The week before the audition, I came out of class excited about a new step I had learned. I showed it to Mom, and she pulled me quietly onto a bench a little out of the way of the other children going to and from classes. She told me that the time had come. I needed to make my final choice.
I gave a big sigh. “I’m not going to the audition, Mom,” I said. “It wouldn’t be honest to say that I’m nine when I’m really eight. I tried to figure out a way to make it work, but I can’t. I want to be honest.” It was really hard to say out loud that I wasn’t going to the audition. But once I did, I felt better than I had for weeks.
“I understand, and I think that you made a choice that you can be pleased about. I know that Heavenly Father and I are pleased with your choice,” she said. Then Mom asked what I wanted to do about the extra classes that would be starting.
I told her, “I’m still going to take the classes. That way, I can be even more prepared for next year. Besides, it can’t hurt to learn more steps—I have a recital this coming spring. Maybe the classes can help me prepare for that.”
One of the other girls in my class went to the audition and was chosen to dance in the ballet. She is nine. Sometimes I wonder if I would have made it if I had auditioned. Then I remind myself that I made the right choice and that I can try out next year.
Who knows—maybe with an extra year of practice, I’ll have an even better chance of being chosen for the Nutcracker next Christmastime. Maybe if you see it, you’ll see me dancing and know that it is me. I’ll be wearing a big smile.
Bad Language and Lyrics
Last Christmas, I received some money from my great aunt. I paid my tithing and then thought about what I would buy. Since I was given a compact-disc (CD) player for Christmas, I decided to get a CD to go with it. A few days later, Mom took me to the store. I found a CD that I thought I’d like and bought it.
When I got home, I started listening to it. The first song was fine, but the next one wasn’t. It had bad language and lyrics, so I stopped listening to it. When Mom asked how I liked the new CD, I told her that I didn’t feel good about it. I remembered the “My Gospel Standards” poster in my room and that I’d promised to listen only to music that would be pleasing to Heavenly Father.
We checked the rest of the songs, and then I saw a sticker on the CD wrapper that said, “Cannot be returned after opened.” I showed it to Mom. She said, “We are still going to try to return it.”
We went back to the store and waited in the return line. Mom told the people about the lyrics and asked if we could please return the CD. The man said that he would let us just this once. I felt happy inside, and I knew that Mom did, too.