Sunday, June 17, 2012

Reflections on a dance recital weekend

Do you watch Dance Moms? I don't. I don't feel like I need to for numerous reasons but first and foremost is that I am a dance mom (lower case and certainly not at all like I've heard the women on the show are). My daughter has been dancing now for 9 years. Our initial reason for signing our 4 year old peanut up for dance was to help her gain some self-confidence. Little did we know that she'd gain self-confidence and fall in love with dance. I am totally and completely not cut out to be a dancer's mom. I stopped wearing make-up once I aged out of scads of blue eye shadow and junior high. I wash my hair and run out of the house with it still dripping wet. I rarely give much thought to what I'm wearing. In other words, for an art form and a sport that does in fact rely heavily on appearance, it's clearly a good thing that it's my daughter and not me who is the one on stage. Aside from my lack of coordination and grace and all of that.

But in 9 years of being a dance mom, I have learned a few things and since I have, I am now uniquely qualified to help backstage at the annual recital. This year, I was assigned to the baby room. This means that I was in a room with all the dancers 6 years old and younger. As I've mentioned before, I'm not a fan of other people's children. My own children know about my low boiling point and have learned that it's a happier situation for all when they behave the way I'm asking them to behave. So I was a little (ok, a lot) leery of the baby room. Being trapped with the criers and the wetters and the blankie needers had the potential to go terribly, terribly wrong. Thankfully it didn't. Other than giving a couple of kids the evil eye, I didn't have to make my head spin 360 degrees. Better yet, I ddn't have to wipe any bottoms (another big hazard in the baby room) although I did have to help a couple of small people to the bathroom and lift them onto the potty. It's been years since I had to do that for my own crew and doing it for these tiny girls reinforced how glad I am to be past that point in my life.

But even a smoothly run recital leaves stories to tell. And these stories are the only things that keep those of us working behind the scenes from quitting and running out screaming. Recital, for those in the audience, is a sweet showcase of varying degrees of dancing competence, a culmination of everything their kids have learned over the year. For those of us in the bowels of the auditorium, recital is like Groundhog Day the movie, all weekend long for all six recitals. Kids stayed occupied in our room in a variety of ways: Simon Says, games, sing alongs, and movies. Much to my surprise, the babies in the baby room knew all the lyrics to Dynamite, Hey I Just Met You, and several other popular songs. These and Christmas carols make for some odd entertaining sing-alongs. The weekend also had Barbie movies on permanent loop down in our room. Yes, lucky soul that I was, I got to watch, and watch, and watch Barbie movies that my own daughter never saw, having aged out of Barbie before they were released. They haven't gotten any better in the intervening years. They still make me want to stick a fork in my eye. Groundhog Day, ghastly pop song sing-alongs, and Barbie movies for hours. If that's not an enticing recommendation to work one for yourself, perhaps the stories will be.

We actually had one mom drop her child off with fabulous instructions for us. Apparently her daughter was very constipated so mom gave her a laxative. She needed us to know that she had done this because, this being a small kid, we'd have to accompany the child to the bathroom and she didn't want us to be alarmed if the kid had explosive diarrhea. Yes, seriously! There's clearly no better time to give your young child a laxative than when she is going to have on a costume and tights and be in the care of strangers she doesn't know and who have no higher calling in life than to wait on your child's bowel movement so they can wipe her bottom for you. Really? It couldn't have waited two hours to get her through the show first? People never stop surprising me.

While we were trying to ignore the potential poo disaster in our room, the older kid room was having adventures and fun too. Luckily for us, they got the vomiter in their room. I'm pretty sure that puke did not improve the look of the ballet costume. They also had a girl who arrived in the room with a handful of yarn. She gave it to her dance teacher saying, "Can you put this in my bag? I'm going to want to finger it later." Yes, the dance teacher let out a yip of laughter before smothering it. And all of us who heard the story later laughed uproariously. If you aren't seeing the humor in it, congratulate yourself on not living in the same gutter the rest of us do.

These are just the creme de la creme of the weekend's stories. We had to keep a tally of how many times one particular kid annoyed the pants off of us. For people who allow their children to think the universe revolves around them, please stop! It doesn't. Even if the kid is young and has an older sister at the studio. That just makes your kid the one voted most likely to be smacked with a shovel by the adults in the room. We didn't have a shovel so we just kept a tally of the child's annoying, obnoxious moments. (Yes, as I later admitted to my daughter, adults do keep slam books when we have to be around rotten kids for too long.) She doubled that tally in about two minutes and we had to endure her for two plus hours. I probably won't be able to look the mom in the face any more without feeling murderous.

But it's all over for another year and because the tears in the room were not ones I caused, I'm likely to be doing this same thing next year. I'll probably have recovered by then. Maybe.

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