I did a stupid thing last year. I signed Lily up for ballet lessons. After the disaster that was soccer, I hoped we could find something she’d like. What I should have thought about more when I signed her up for ballet was whether or not I, the mother who has to sit through dance recitals, would like it.
I hate watching people dance. The second people I don’t know get on the stage and start leaping around, I zone out and wonder how many more numbers I have to sit through. I look at the clock and count the seconds. I check the program again and again and count how many more numbers are left before I can escape and do math problems about how long each number should take. The same thing happens at piano recitals, choir and band concerts and, um, synagogue. If there’s no dialogue or plot, I get antsy. I’m probably in for a lot of this torture in various forms in the coming years.
Signing my daughter up for ballet when I hate watching people dance was a dumb, dumb idea. After the first Christmas show, I really wanted out, but I felt obligated to finish out the year and Lily was LOVING it.
After the first year of ballet, Lily is still really into it. “I just love going to school and ballet. Those are my favorite things that I do.”
Now she’s in a ballet/tap combo class because that’s what our friends were signing up for. Since she is dancing with two types of shoes, this means she will have TWO numbers I have to wait for at every single recital. Yay?
I do have to give it to her that dance has the best accessories.
Don’t get me wrong, I love watching HER dance. There’s nothing cuter than watching a bunch of 3-5 year olds totally botch up a dance number. It’s more entertaining than watching the kids who actually know what they’re doing. The trouble is to get to my kids’ number, I have to watch a bunch of other junk. Despite the fact that the 3-5 year old crowd is even worse at sitting through dance recitals than I am, the routine for the little kids always seem to be at the very end of the show, which makes absolutely no sense given their attention span (and mine). Yesterday, we sat in a crowded mall food court for an hour waiting for Lily to take the stage. It was almost 8 pm before she danced. That’s bedtime! Ridiculous.
The trouble with being a dance mom to a 5 year old is you always have to be available to watch your kid back stage. You can’t just leave a 5 year old alone. They don’t have baby-sitters lined up for them. Recitals are crowded and insane and you have to make sure your too-little-to-just-say-meet-me-here kid can find you when they are released from the stage. I end up standing just off stage where she can see me. This means that I don’t actually get to watch the recital at all.
So this is what the recital ends up being: Me, standing behind the stage annoyed with an anxious 5 year old waiting and waiting and waiting forever for my kid to dance somewhere where I can’t even see her dance.
This was my amazing view of my daughter dancing. I'm so glad we came out so I could see that.
Meanwhile, I have to vaguely watch a bunch of other kids I don’t care about dance dances I wouldn’t be interested in seeing even if they were danced by professional ballerinas. I feel tortured and bored for what feels like hours on end but is actually only an hour.
And I SHOULD really want to see my kid dance in these recitals. Instead, I dread it and often discuss other activities Lily can do. Gymnastics! Soccer! Swimming! Piano!
But when I think about those things, I groan when I think about the other things I’d have to sit through: gymnastics exhibitions, soccer games when I hate watching sports, swim meets, piano recitals. Yuck, boring, BORING! Again, I like seeing HER do these things, but watching all those other kids is SO boring. This may be one of my biggest obstacles as a parent yet– to pretend to be enthusiastic about the idea of sitting through this stuff.
Giving Lily other options hasn’t changed anything. She still wants dance.
Ugh, I hope I don’t have to be a dance mom forever. And I hope whatever activity she chooses down the line has minimal boring things for me to pretend to be a fan of. I fail at dance mom. Will I fail at choir, piano or soccer mom as well?