Monday, December 18, 2017

My Dance Mom Game is Weak AF

Long ago, I declared in no uncertain terms that my worst nightmare is being pressured into “dancing” at a bar, club, or party. I put quote marks around dancing, because that’s how bad I am at dancing. Dancing is for the free, the uninhibited, and the confident. Dancing is NOT for the repressed, the neurotic, and the self-hating. In other words, dancing is not for me. 

But dancing is for everyone, you say cheerfully. No, no it is not.

Truly I would rather spend three hours in oral surgery under conscious sedation than fifteen minutes twirling and flipping around a stage, studio, or even the floor of a Juneau bar during Folk Fest. (Good God, especially not then).

Dancing is, however, for my 10 year-old daughter, Paige, and good for her I say. 

There’s a reality of parenting that I sort of always knew in theory, but failed to appreciate until recently, which is that you don’t get to pick your kids’ interests. This seems obvious, but it doesn’t really start to sink in until you watch your fantasies of retiring on the income of a future concert violinist and ice hockey goalie/ski racing star evaporate before your eyes in a flurry of sequins and hairspray.

So figure skating, ukulele, and acro-dance it is. And we are not on track for the Olympics or Carnegie Hall, let's be honest. I don’t think that’s too unkind to say, is it? Like I think it’s fine to tell your kids to reach for the stars and follow their dreams, while secretly knowing all along that their perseverance is highly unlikely to overcome the terrible genes you've passed along to them. 

You don’t need to say that in so many words, of course. They’ll find out the hard way themselves soon enough.

Anyway, dance is an outlet for Paige’s boundless physical energy and work ethic, and helps her set confident goals for herself. The two women who run the 140-person dance company where Paige takes lessons somehow—and with the help of volunteers who are not me for good reason—manage to organize the entire troupe into a big and elaborate concert twice a year, and this weekend was the winter showcase.

I took a pretty cold dive into Dance Momming you guys. 
As it turns out, and not to my surprise, the only thing I’m worse at than dancing is Dance Momming. Dance Momming is a thing I’d seen on TV, but did not know actually existed in real life until this weekend, and after 15 hours of Dance Momming, I now feel I’ve been adequately initiated.

Understand that I’m one of these people who feels/is clueless and lost (literally and figuratively) a lot of the time. Some examples:

  • In college: Wait, we were supposed to register for THAT class first? 
  • At the DMV: Oh wait, I’m supposed to be in this OTHER line? 
  • In law school: Wait, this isn’t a take-home exam?
And then I look to someone—anyone—who seems to know what they’re doing to throw me a life preserver.

“Don’t worry,” whispered my friend Kate, whose daughter was in the same four minute-routine as Paige. “I was you last year.” Good, because I needed a Dance Mom Sherpa, and I made it my business to affix myself to Kate’s side like a barnacle on the hull of a ship in a storm. And still, every minute I spent Dance Momming was a minute I felt like I was about to get plucked off that ship by a rogue wave.

It was a persistent, vague, unsettling feeling. A feeling that despite having received several detailed emails, I was always supposed to be somewhere I wasn’t, or doing/not doing something I was/wasn’t, or that I was sitting/standing/loitering in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Or, worst of all, that I was poised to commit an unknown Dance Mom faux-pas for which all the other Dance Moms--many of whom, by the way, looked like (but I assume were not?) every girl who was ever mean to me in high school--would forever condemn me.

Paige proved my harshest critic.

It’s supposed to be a HIGH tight bun, "MOM! This bun is too LOW! UGGGGH!! WHY ARE YOU SO BAD AT BUNS?!?”


I wanted to scream this at her, but I didn’t of course, because (a) comparing your daughter to a murdered six-year old beauty pageant queen is deeply sick in the head, however technically apt the comparison; and (b) I knew that the stage makeup was to be applied under strict directives as to color and palette. 

Happily, this was one thing I didn’t have to buy and felt confident about, because I’m on a slow descent into old hag-dom and both own and know how to fill in my wrinkles with matte foundation.

I began the last evening of the performance with Kate made up like a Real Housewife of Juneau (RHOJU?) and ended it looking like an extra in an Alice Cooper video. I must say, RHOJU to Alice Cooper pretty much sums up the level of ass-whooping I got from my first foray into Dance Momming.

Little brother Isaac was less than impressed, which is not surprising for a gender-conforming boy who regularly complains that there are "too many girls" everywhere. You can watch his rather scathing but mercifully short review on YouTube at this link.

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