When My Girl was four years old, if you asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, she’d give you one of two answers:
- Five! (Apparently, she was really looking forward to her birthday.)
- A rock star!
Luckily, that has since changed, and I would venture to say permanently changed. These days she wants to be a “wildlife conservationist.” Her words, not mine. Basically, she wants to rescue animals out in the wild, preferably cheetahs in Africa.
A Rock Star in the making
But when the winning profession was rock star, I was supportive. I wasn’t happy about it, but I was supportive. I envisioned Britney Spears with Shaved Head or Lady Gaga in Raw Meat Suit. But, I’m nothing if not supportive. So, I suggested some sort of music lesson – piano, guitar, even drums. She said she wanted “microphone lessons” and dance classes.
In my completely biased, motherly opinion, My Girl could already sing like a star. She has been known to belt out all three verses of Leaving on a Jet Plane whenever we are in the car, train station, airport, bathtub, you name it. So that left us with dance lessons.
Thus, we spent nine months of our lives – nine months that we can never get back – in preschool acro-dance.
The Mystery of Acro-Dance
In case you don’t know what acro-dance is, don’t feel bad. I had no idea. It’s what they do with little kiddos who have no dance ability, and honestly, no hope for future dance ability. It’s skipping, somersaults, maybe a little hip shaking. Luckily, no pole dancing.
After three months of lessons, we attended My Girl’s Christmas dance recital. The only words I had were: Complete. Waste. Of. Money.
My Girl is not, nor never will be, shy, which you probably deduced from the fact that she belted out Leaving on a Jet Plane in the middle of a crowded airport. So I wasn’t concerned about stage fright during her first dance program. What I didn’t expect was instead of dancing/tumbling (which, four years later, I’m not sure she ever learned), My Girl decided to perfect her rag doll impersonation.
The first performance:
- Balance Beam – Most kids skipped across it. Mine stood there until the instructor literally placed one foot in front of the other.
- Somersault – Most kids did theirs and jumped up with a “ta-da!” Mine stood as a statue until the instructor bent her over and pushed her butt over her head. Then My Girl let her feet flop down so she was doing more of a corpse pose than anything resembling tumbling. When she got a laugh out of the crowd, she jumped up with her ‘ta-da!”
- Back Bend – Most kids placed their hands over their heads and waited for the instructor to help them back bend over a curved mat. Mine remained in her somersault ta-da position until the instructor turned her around, raised her hands up, and then picked her up and over the mat. When she completed her routine, My Girl then grinned hugely and waved at me and the rest of the audience.
So hopes were not high for the culminating dance recital at the end of the term.
But before we can get to the program, we first have to discuss my continued need for that World’s Best Mom award. It was firmly established in World’s Okayest Mom that this best mom title is not deserved. But I hope against all hope that someday… maybe…
The Husband said it perfectly when I shared my big news about the upcoming dance recital:
“Backstage Mom is not a title I ever thought you would hold.”
He’s right. But yet, when the dance instructor texted me to see if I had signed up as a Backstage Mom, I couldn’t stop myself. I texted back that I hadn’t. I should have stopped there. I wanted to stop there. But to avoid sounding rude, I added to my text, “Why? Do you need help?”
Curse my never-ending need to please people and to be a good mom.
Now I was a Backstage Mom.
Backstage Mom is dangerously close to PTO Mom. PTO Mom is just something I’m not cut out for. I don’t give a shit if the cafeteria serves peanut butter or sugary Kool-Aid. I have no interest in heading up, or frankly, even participating in, the spring fundraising carnival. I’m not cut out for PTO Mom life. As Amy Poehler would say: good for her; not for me.
But I want to be better than World’s Okayest Mom, so I became a Backstage Mom.
The burning question I have, still, years later, is: Did the dance instructor know that I am a huge sucker who would end up volunteering? (There’s no way she thought I had actually signed up, since I didn’t even take My Girl to dance class. Thank you, my wonderful mother-in-law for doing that weekly.) Or did she send that text out to every dancer’s mom and I was only one of two stupid/gullible/naive enough to volunteer? Either way, I don’t think it reflects positively on me.
Reasons why I am not Backstage Mom material:
1. I completely blew off the mandatory hair and makeup tutorial for moms, because My Girl is beautiful and will not wear stage makeup and because I can braid like a mother (I really crack myself up…) No tutorial necessary. Then My Girl came to picture day with the wrong hairdo…
2. I’m not what you would call a good example for impressionable pee wee dancers. Part of my job as Backstage Mom was to keep the girls quiet when they stood by the stage door ready to make their big entrance. Anything said by that stage door would echo through the auditorium. I finally got the girls settled down and quiet during dress rehearsal when my iPhone (which has already proven on multiple occasions to have a mind of its own when it comes to music playlists) started blaring Ben Folds’ The Bitch Went Nuts. Unfortunately, the very first bars of that song are Ben shouting: “The bitch went nuts!” (Great song, though…)
3. I’m too much of a feminist. The dance instructors are so lucky I wasn’t in the audience when they made announcements. They asked dance moms to stand up and be recognized for the moral support they give their children as they attend dance classes. Then they asked the dance dads to stand up to be thanked for paying for the dance lessons. Excuse-moi?? Why do we assume dads paid for the lessons? Pretty sure I work. Pretty sure I wrote out that check. Pretty sure I didn’t date those checks with the year 1955.
4. I’m not nearly responsible enough. On the way to the recital, can you guess what I forgot to bring? Yep. My Girl’s costume. Frankly, I’m lucky that I didn’t forget My Girl.
5. I disagreed with most things the dance instructors said. “Dancers need to wear their shoes in the hallway.” I argued that it was just more work for the moms because we have to put shoes on them then take them off before their performance. Work smarter not harder. “All dancers, even the pee wees, need to be at the recital at 2 p.m.” I argued that this was madness. The pee wee acro-dancers will be there for four hours before performing. Yes. Four hours. As in one, two, three, are you four-king kidding me??
But we did it. We came four flipping hours early. We had the correct hairstyle and even a dab of makeup. We wore our shoes before the performance. Look at me — following directions like a good Backstage Mom!
The performance was great…
If My Girl was performing after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade instead of during it, that is.
Her recital reminded me of the obstacle course dogs run to win the American Kennel Club’s blue ribbon. It was even complete with a tunnel to crawl through and a bar to jump over.
When not completing this “acro-dance obstacle course” My Girl skipped in circles on stage. Not kidding.
Lord of the Dance or Survival of the Fittest?
The most interesting part of this recital, for me, was watching the sociological study of the dressing room. It turned into Lord of the Flies with tutus and leotards.
After four hours in a dressing room with only three Backstage Moms to supervise 40 girls, a hierarchy started to take shape.
The cheerleaders started commandeering all the food. The blue ballerinas (older girls) started making slaves of the pink ballerinas (younger girls) and forcing them to fetch their makeup and costume changes. The hip hop dancers turned into zombies and chased the youth acro-dancers around the room (until the tap dance instructor stepped in – she also shot me a dirty look for allowing this, but I was too fascinated, and perhaps a bit too scared for my own safefy, to intervene). The pee wee acro-dancers shyly kept to themselves with hoarded and hidden coloring books.
Except My Girl. She found protection with the junior ballroom dancers. I can rest at night knowing that she will survive in a world without adults.
With all that said, you can only imagine what I did a week later…
Signed My Girl up for another dance class. Call it masochistic if you will, but if my girl wants to be a rock star, I’ll be damned if her dance skills are limited to twerking like Miley Cyrus.