I was hesitant to put my daughter in dance.
Partly because I think she is too young, and partly because the whole idea of dance (and dance moms) scare me. That and Tess’s hair is still too short for a bun.
But people kept telling me that I needed to. And she loves to dance. So I signed her up.
Every Wednesday is crazy. I rush out of school earlier than usual, pray that I remembered her dance bag, pick up Tess, squeeze her into tights and a leotard and get her to dance abd then I’m usually right back out the door to pick up her brother, find his soccer gear and then back to dance. Usually just in time to watch the last 20 or so minutes through a one-way window. On my tip toes.
Her class started with 5 littles. One girl with a matching, leotard, dance bag and bow. All with rhinestones. Mom took several pictures of the whole ensemble before walking in the door. Two sisters, possibly twins, who were adorable but would much rather play with each other than actually dance. A little boy who was somehow related to the teacher and I think mostly in the class because she was babysitting that hour. And Tess.
I watched from the one-way window. As the teachers played music, tried to get them to stay on their spots and learn a few simple dances. Tess was serious and intense every class. She watched and tried to repeat the moves. The other kids giggled and played. She made the silliest face and always got stamps for good behavior afterwards.
After week one, I never saw the best dressed girl again. The sister/twins lasted several more times but then stopped coming. The last time it was just Tess and the boy. But she didn’t mind all the one on one attention.
This Saturday was the first little mini recital. At some Junior League Christmas shopping event.
First hesitation – Junior League. Reminds me of my cotillion days which I don’t look back on fondly.
Second hesitation – I don’t have a clue what to do. I walk in to a packed convention center and am lost. I find my way in. Find the stage and head to the room behind it. That is filled with dozens and dozens of girls in black leotards. Then I really start to panic. I don’t know what to do or where to go or who to hand my little bitty 3 year old off to. I find a familiar face who tells me to put on her ballet slippers and then hands her to a teenager.
And. no one has seen the other boy in her class. The main teacher was also out with a death in the family.
Gulp. Tess might be flying solo.
I go to try and find a seat. Which was impossible because apparently you have to get there crazy early for an actual seat, but Shaun and Owen had claimed a bench in the back. Someone near me had a schedule and I found Tess’s number 8th on the list of about 25.
Several little groups come out. Most about Tess’s age or maybe a little bit older. Groups of 5-6 girls at a time. And they are more comical than anything. A few dance in the middle, some do their own thing, some even try to walk off the stage completely. But they are cute. And everyone laughs and claps.
It gets closer to Tess’s turn and I wonder if she is ok back there. And I pray that she won’t have to venture out on that stage alone. Because I know that I’d be scared out of my mind if it was me. And I have a good 30 years on her.
And Tess isn’t exactly Miss Independent. She doesn’t like to sleep by herself. She doesn’t like to color by herself. Or play by herself. Watch movies by herself. She even wants me in the room with her while she poops. All this togetherness wears me out. And brave is not really an adjective I'd use to describe her either. When we went to the beach, she wasn't interested in the waves. I have to push her down slides. She takes a while to warm up to new people and new situations. And she is afraid of the shower, self flushing toilets and the vacuum cleaner.
So I was panicked about what she would do when she walked out on a big stage and saw all those people. And had to do her dance. By herself. I wondered if she would cry. Or panic. Or if I would. If maybe I should go up on stage with her. And suddenly I wished that I had watched closer through that window rather than texting friends or checking facebook, so that I could do the dance with her. Because I would have.
Just before Tess’s turn I walked to the side stage and found Tess attached to the same teenager’s hip I had left her with 45 minutes earlier. She looked a little unsure. And so I gave her my best pep talk. And almost cried Told her I couldn’t wait to see her dance and how proud I’d be. Then I pulled out the best mom trick in the book. I shamelessly bribed her with the Barbie of her choice afterwards.
Just as I heard the microphone announce her. Just her.
And everyone stopped to look at the cute little in the black leotard that her daddy had accidently put on backwards earlier ( don’t worry, we fixed it before the big show).
The teenager peeled her off. And set her on the stage.
I camped out right in front. Without a seat. Not worrying about blocking anyone’s vision because it’s not like anyone eles’s kid was up there.
Owen gave her a thumbs up. I held my breathe. And she looked a little scared.
But not nearly as scared as I was. About what she would do. Or what I would do.
And the music started and the teachers off to the side started to do the routine.
And then she did the absolute last thing I expected.
She nailed it. The moves. The hand motions. The twirls. She even smiled.
I snapped a quick picture. Hoped Shaun was taping in the back. And noticed a few people beside me, strangers, get out their phones and start taping too.
Because she was that cute. And little. And the girl who refuses to so much as go to the bathroom by herself, completely owned the stage.
Afterwards, when everyone clapped and cheered, this mom blubbered like a baby in the front and wondered what Barbie we would be adding to our collection.
(almost impossible to see b/c Shaun is so far back and she is so tiny...but look close, she is the tiny dot in the middle)
(yes, i know billy idol is more appropriate here...but i love this song and especially the T&S version even more....although I have done my share of dancing to some idol)