You know what that is, right?? The arcade game where you jump around on foot pads and arrows and follow the moves on screen.
I was in Germany for this two week interim between a three month stay in France and where we were going... another three month stay in Romania. It was like our vacation between the intense studying we'd been doing in France and the intense humanitarian work we were going to be doing in Romania.
Anyway, we stayed with friends of one of our professor's at his house on a military base and he took us to the arcade for an afternoon of fun and MADE us all play this game. All of us. (There were four.)
Obviously I had a different definition of Fun than he had...
He thought it was the greatest thing ever and I'm like... uh I've gone to Christian school since second grade where dancing is not only prohibited it's severely frowned upon. I don't know HOW to dance. Let alone jump around like a breakdancer AND follow the image on screen. There is way too much multitasking happening.
Plus, you need to be seriously enthusiastic about the jumping around thing.
And one. My boobs are too big for that.
Two. I'm not really enthusiastic about anything... Despite my excessive use of exclamation points online and in text messages I am really way too laid back to jump around about anything. It's kind of one of my faults... That song? Jump around. Jump around. Jump up, jump up and get down..? That just sounds exhausting!!!
Anyway. I was awful. Terrible. Horrible!!! And it wasn't just about coordination, because even though I was never fantastic at athletics, I did play college basketball. Mostly... it was my inability to do anything remotely close to dancing.
As a side note, I do LOVE to go out dancing. But not any kind that requires instruction. Let's be honest... I just don't have that skill.
In Germany, my dancing got so bad that eventually one of the guys jumped on the back of the little jump-around part and said, "just focus on the front steps, I'll handle these back here..."
Definitely not one of my shining moments.
So years later, after enrolling my first born in dance, I was absolutely SHOCKED to find that she actually had talent as a dancer!!!
After growing up involved with contact sports and marrying the soccer-fanatic that I did, Zach and I forever pictured our family with a bunch of little future soccer players running around. Muddy. Hair askew. With those precious tiny little shin guards on. And grass stains on everything!
What we got instead was Stella, who preferred to pick flowers when we signed her up for YMCA ball, and cried hysterically when we asked her to at least run on the same side of the field as the ball.
In the meantime, one of my closest friends, Lindsay, had convinced me to sign her up for dance. She was 18months, the cutest thing I had EVER seen in a poofy tutu and it was only $35/month.
What happened after that first year is still an enigma to me. Stella fell IN LOVE with dance. Deeply. Irrevocably. Passionately. And I'm certain... Eternally.
So, the studio we went to had this intense competition program. And because Stella was good, and dedicated and LOVED being on stage and also because there were other girls her age in the exact same place, Lindsay(who is also her dance teacher) and Joey, who was the owner of the studio and one of the most incredible people I have ever known, started a team for them.
Here is my first ever experience with a Competition. It's insanity.... Read about it here.
If only I knew it was just going to get WORSE.
Ok, I probably did. And by worse, I really mean just... um... more...
Because seriously. Have you ever been to one of these things??? If you haven't, just go ahead and set your DVRs to Dance Moms on TLC. Go ahead, right now, I'll wait.
Just kidding. But seriously, that is exactly what it's like!!! Only we don't have a crazy Abbi Lee. That we don't have.
But we do have teams of super, super talented kids that are impassioned by dance and work like nothing else to make sure they are the best.
This is not my world. I wear one color. Black. Seriously, that's almost ALL i wear. Although, every once in a while I change it up with some gray. You know, on days I feel extra sassy. And I have a limited collection of bedazzled clothing. It includes to sweaters with sequins. One black. One gray. They are my fancy sweaters and I wear them to things like book signings and Christmas parties. And then I have one tank top that has a shiny front and I wear that to concerts sometimes.
It's also black.
None of my jeans come with rhinstones. I don't even have decorative pockets.
I look like a traveling gypsy 99% of the time. I mean, seriously, I show up to these events and people ask if I'm going to read their future with my crystal ball. My nose is twice pierced. Twice. I've never even seen another mom with a single nose piercing, let alone TWO.
My suitcase is Target in all it's $30 glory. My purse is also Target. And falling apart now that I'm thinking of it. But it also goes over my shoulder, in this total college-messenger-bag way and couldn't scream I DON'T HAVE A COACH PURSE any louder.
Although I actually do have a Coach clutch that my sister in law gave me for Christmas. But the Dance Moms don't know that. And I'm not about to bring it to a competition. I need a Mary Poppins size bag that I can dump boxes of snacks, twenty Capri Suns, three packs of wipes and make up remover and activities for about 17 kids and my husband into.
And worst of all, I'm not a big fan of clapping. Let alone high fives. Oh good lord.
Plus I've NEVER even bought a program, not once.
This is our third year.
That's almost like a sin. Like an unforgivable, carnal, seventh deadly sin.
I probably should for like Stella's keepsakes or something. I don't know I haven't, now that I think about it.
Anyway. All that to say, I do NOT fit in. Not even a little bit. I stick out like a giant, black as in funeral shroud and sackcloth, hippy thumb!
If you've ever heard parents say, We do this because my child wants to.
That is us. We do this because my daughter is in love with this. This is what she wants. And it is GOOD for her. You might look from the outside and think it's this absolutely superficial world, obsessed with fake tans and skimpy costumes and filled to the brim with Stage Parents that are living their crushed high school dreams vicariously through their children.
Yes, there are those aspects to it. Yes, I did have the option to spray tan Stella, who is six, although I declined. Yes, I will defend the parents I know that chose that for their children. Yes, I do put fake eye lashes on her and she does where costumes that show off her tummy.
BUT. She also has learned to command a stage, in front of hundreds of people. My daughter. MY STELLA. The same Stella that was too shy to tell her own doctor where she went to school not two weeks ago. The same Stella who cried all morning, the first day she had to do Show and Tell at her school because she was so nervous. The same Stella who won't do anything in front of anyone, and is afraid of Everything, except for dance.
Dance is just an entirely different thing for her. Not only does she have the confidence, poise and command that it takes to do well on stage, she LOVES it.
Which is why we do it.
It doesn't mean that competition weekends aren't the most draining weekends of my life. Because they are. By Sunday, I am wiped. Exhausted. Completely emotionally not responsible for how I react until I recover.
But we do them for our daughter. We do it all for Stella.
And Scarlett too, since she will most likely have a team next year.
It's not only about her passion though. It's because we want our children to be GOOD at something. Not just participants. Not just spectators. Not just the trophy that all the kids get. We want them to excel. To be the best. To want something enough to sacrifice for it, to dedicate time and energy and sanity to it.
And yes, they are young. Stella started competing at 3. For a lot of you that is pure craziness. But this is one of the most important lessons we can teach our children.
It's one of the most important lessons we have learned. Honestly, I wouldn't be here if it wasn't.
Also... it's a little because I have four kids and they have to get to college somehow.... :)
Still, I'm probably going to always complain about the insane early mornings and those darn eye lashes. Stella is always going to fight putting her earrings on. Zach is probably always going to hate how LONG the days are. And I might not ever understand the point system.
For real, what is the difference between a Diamond High Elite and a High First Place???
Seriously, does anybody know???
And probably I will never, ever, ever fit in. I just honestly can't ever picture myself rhinestoning my own t-shirt. Let's be honest. And maybe if I do, or you see me doing it, you should probably ask me if I'm ok. And then call 911.
I'm going to hold off on spray-tanning Stella for a few years. Or maybe life. But then again maybe not.
And I will always groan about the cost.
But if my child has the opportunity to do something well, like really well, as well as LOVE it, I'm going to support her one million percent.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go fit Stella for a flipper.