Posted in Lifestyle, Mommyhood

You may call it dance class. I call it a social experiment.

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:

  1. Five! (Apparently, she was really looking forward to her birthday.)
  2. 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.

Dance Shoes

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!

MyGirl dance recital
I’m going to be completely honest. My main motivation for dance lessons was the recital outfit. How cute is My Girl??

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.

Posted in Lifestyle, Mommyhood

My Girl’s style is “laissez faire” with glitter

If My Girl’s style of dress had a theme song, it would be “Fancy” – I’m so fancy… Can’t you taste this gold. Come on. You can sing along. No one is listening. You know you know this song.

(Confession: until writing this post and double checking the lyrics, I thought the song said: Can’t you taste the scone. To be fair, scones are fancy too!)

Anyways, back to My Girl’s style (how easily I am distracted by Iggy Azalea). My Girl definitely has her own style. It’s this:

  1. Fancy dress. I’m saying Easter or Christmas dress fancy — ruffles, tulle, glitter (oh, the glitter), preferably some sort of detachable flower, and a sash.
  2. Socks. Obviously, socks, but My Girl is very particular about her socks. Either they need to have an animal crawling up them or peeping out the top of them, or they need to be ankle socks. There’s no in between. In general, My Girl despises socks, thus the cute animal ones. It’s really more of a bribe than a style.
  3. Cowgirl boots. My Girl has me well trained to say “cowgirl” because for a year after this became a staple to her wardrobe, she would correct anyone when they complimented her on the cowboy boots she was wearing. “I’m a girl; they are cowgirl boots.” (Tall socks with animals peeping out of the top also work well with her essential footwear.)
  4. Headband with some sort of animal ears included. My Girl’s favorite headband (thus worn on every possible occasion) are springy black cats – the kind of jokester headband from Halloween. Except, in My Girl’s eyes, they are no joke. They are every-day wear, especially to church. But if you’ve read Parenting My Girl is Like Playing Whack-a-Mole, you know My Girl is no stranger to bringing demon cats to God’s House.

My Style

I’m not really sure where My Girl got her fancy style. At first thought, I would say not from me. Certainly not from The Husband who wears the same sweatshirt every night after work until I finally sneak it off his pile of clothes while he is sleeping in on a Saturday morning and add it to the weekly laundry load.

When I was growing up, I was the younger sister. So you know what that means. Say it with me, younger siblings… Hand. Me. Downs. Yes. So my fashion style was Three Years Late and Whatever My Mom Picked Out for The Sister. Very chic. Very runway-esque.

When I started buying my own clothes and/or started raising enough of a fuss that My Mom bought clothes specifically for me, I veered toward PacSun in the mall. Remember PacSun? Actually “in my day” it was Pacific Sunwear. Apparently the younger generation thought that was too much to say or print on a receipt. So my style was jeans, usually a pony tail because this one is lazy, and a graphic tee with a cute saying. Like a sheep saying “ewe’s not fat, ewe’s fluffy.” (Still makes me giggle.)

Come to think of it, my current style hasn’t changed much. Except my graphic tees are cleverly referencing some work of literature or Friends, rather than a dad joke… Ok, that’s not true. There are plenty of dad joke tees in my closet too.

Every once and awhile, in my younger years — My Mom would take pity on me and sidestep the hand-me-downs for an original pick. I very clearly remember an all lace, all white dress for Easter, probably around the same age My Girl is currently. As I’m parenting My Girl, I’m slowing realizing what My Mom was thinking, letting me get that dress, which I also remember was not cheap. But it was like a dream for me. So, ok, maybe My Girl comes by her fanciness honestly.

The Evolultion of My Girl’s Style

The Dresses

But My Girl insists on fancy. Fancy dresses. Fancy headbands. Fancy tights. The more lace, layers and glitter, the better.

She started this when she was in daycare, around age 3 or 4. She begged and begged to wear her fancy, red velvet Christmas dress to daycare every day. At first, I resisted. That dress was $40! (Can I just pause and say: WTF? A 4-year-old needs a fraction of the fabric, yet the dress is more expensive than most I buy for myself.) I wasn’t letting her wear the expensive dress to daycare just to have it destroyed. But then I realized — Christmas is over, the money was spent, and honestly, it’s not worth the fight. So why not? Thus began My Girl’s style.

I quickly got wise and stopped spending $40 on a single dress. Have you heard of this magical place called Costco? Ah… Costco. It’s one of My Girl’s favorite stores (not counting The Disney Store, of course) because everything is giant-sized so she can pretend she’s a fairy exploring the land of ogres, and because, like everyone else, she loves loves loves the free samples. She would sample garlic-flavored seaweed if they were offering free samples at Costco. Which they do.

But the reason I love Costco is because of their array of “fancy My Girl dresses.” I stock up. During Easter, I buy enough fancy dresses to last us the spring and summer. And again during Christmas, I stock up for the long winter ahead of us. The dresses usually run me about $15 apiece. #FrugalMommy (P.S. for real This Frugal Mommy, check out my friend… Sorry. Shameless plug.)

So Costco has served me well the last four-ish years. Then this year happened. Usually, I hit Costco on the way home from work, so My Girl doesn’t have much say in the dresses I pick out. I know enough about her style – as I should after dressing her for the last eight years – so I just pick the dresses I think she’ll like. She’s a pretty grateful little booger, so there are rarely any complaints.

Until this year. This year, when getting ready to purchase her Christmas and winter dresses, she decided to have an opinion. Right?! How dare she! She told me the specifics of her newest dress: all red, preferably with a rose somewhere on it, needs to “twirl”, small buttons are ok (these are her exact specifications), some glitter, not itchy sleeves (translation, she doesn’t want sleeves made of tulle because they itch her armpits). That was some checklist.  

Costco did not deliver.

I walked longingly past all the $15 dresses – some satin dark blue ones, a few red and gold ones, a lovely black velvet one. But none that fit My Girl’s criteria. Goodbye Frugal Mommy Days.

Two days later, I ended up at the local department store with My Girl and My Mom. If you’ve checked out the Cast of Characters, you know My Mom is My Girl’s biggest cheerleader. She’s also the biggest enabler when it comes to spoiling My Girl. Both translate into ‘cha-ching’ for me.

This shopping trip was no different. Without much ado, My Girl ended up with an all red dress, one that twirls, with glitter, that looks way more grown up than I would like. And cost about the same price as four Costco dresses.

The Boots

My Girl's Boots
Actual footage of My Girl’s current boot supply

I can also blame My Mom for the biggest part of My Girl’s style: her cowgirl boots. At age four, My Mom decided My Girl needed real cowgirl boots. Hands down, this was the best, most appropriate gift My Girl has ever received. My Mom, once a cowgirl herself, bought the boots from Tractor Supply Store, because she knows what she’s doing. We’re talking legit. My Girl, basically, hasn’t taken them off since.

I’ve literally bought eight pairs of the exact same boots – brown Durangos – just in different sizes. Here’s the magic of these boots:

  • They match everything (according to My Girl, anyways. She wears them with fancy dresses, jean shorts, swimsuits, you name it.
  • They are easy clean-up. I literally hose them down if they get too dirty.
  • They always look nice because they are meant to withstand riding horses in the Wild West. My Girl is notoriously rough on shoes, but has yet to destroy a pair of Durangos.
  • They are comfortable — according, again, to My Girl. When she is told to wear comfortable shoes since she’ll be walking a lot, she still wears the boots. She’s played laser tag in them, went hiking, strolled on the beach and, of course, rode horses.

So, to sum it up: everyone needs to buy these boots for their children. And in our household, they are the only pair of shoes needed for the last four years. And no, Durango has yet to endorse me or this blog. Though, they absolutely should.

My Girl’s Style Today –

Apparently, she has an opinion… and a vision

But that was when My Girl’s style was store-bought. Apparently, these days, she’s fancies herself a modern-day Coco Chanel. Who needs pre-made, pre-designed clothes when you have your own style?

When The Husband picked her up from school this week, she had half a dozen, perfectly round holes in her jeggings. The conversation with her and The Husband went something like this:

My Girl with holes
She has her own style. Just don’t let her have the scissors.

The Husband: “What happened to your pants?”

My Girl: (apparently surprised that something was wrong with her pants) “What do you mean?”

The Husband: “You have holes all over them.”

My Girl: “I don’t know what happened.”

The Husband: “Was it an accident?”

My Girl: “If it was an accident, will I still be in trouble?”

The Husband: “Yes.”                                                                                     

My Girl: “Then, no. It wasn’t an accident.”

The Husband: “Did you cut holes in your pants on purpose?”

My Girl: “Yes.”

The Husband: “Why?”

My Girl: “Because lots of girls have holes in their pants. I think they look better this way.”

Smh. So begins the importance of style and peer pressure. As my anger started to flare up over the ruined pants, My Girl pulled out this gem of wisdom:

“Let’s not let this ruin our night.”

Damn. Can’t argue with that. So we didn’t let it ruin our night. And she didn’t let it ruin her style. Though she is a few dollars poorer since we made her pay for the destroyed jeggings.

Posted in Lifestyle, Mommyhood

I do not own a World’s Best Mom coffee mug

That’s probably right.

I’ll admit it. I harbor an insane and irrational jealousy toward anyone with a World’s Best Mom (fill in the blank). Coffee mug. Picture frame. Magnet. Keychain. (My jealousy for the keychain is the worst. With a keychain I can literally dangle it in front of all those other moms whose children don’t think they are the world’s best. Ha Ha! Take that!)

But I deserve none of the above. I have enough self-realization to know that I am definitely not the World’s Best Mom.

Though after having this discussion with my manager (as My Girl calls her: Boss Lady), I was gifted a World’s Okayest Mom mug. She feared that would offend me, but 1. I’m not easily offended. My Girl once told me I was “big as a van.” I quickly developed a thick skin after that. And 2. It is so right. World’s Okayest Mom – now that’s something aspire to.

Reasons why I’m not the World’s Best

The “M” Word

For starters, I have convinced My Girl that ‘mom’ is a bad word.

She is only allowed to call me Momma and Mommy, or some other sort of little girl variance.

This started pretty early on, and now that My Girl is age 9, I haven’t backed down on this rule.

‘Mom’ is for much older kids, and I refuse My Girl be any older than she already is. ‘Mother’ should only be used in Little House on the Prairie times or if there’s another word coming after it. You know where I’m going with that. My Girl is not allowed to go there.

We have a deal though that she may call me ‘Mom’ when I drop her off for her freshman year of college. The exact deal entails me giving her a piece of gum for the very first time, in which she may respond with “Thanks, Mom.”

I have this rule so engrained in her that she once called me ‘Mom’ when hanging out with some older kids, but later apologized and explained she wanted to be cool. I also tried to be cool about her slip.

Tricky Tricky

I am not above tricking My Girl. I’m talking straight up lying and tricking her into believing things. I’m lucky that she likes eating vegetables, because I was prepared to tell her that peas turn into jelly beans in her tummy, though once I got her to eat asparagus by telling her it was green beans.

My Girl: “These green beans taste funny.”

Me: “That’s because it’s asparagus.”

My Girl: (with real awe in her voice) “Good job tricking me!”

But I have found an even better and all encompassing trick: Mommy Magic.

It started out as a joke. I would use my Mommy Magic to make a stubbed toe feel better or to make the car drive in a straight line without touching the wheel (I rely on proper alignment and knee-steering like any good driver).

Then there was the magic light incident. The light in our china cabinet is touch activated. Touch the hinges and it turns on. Touch it two more times and it gets even brighter. No magic required. Well… My Girl didn’t know that.

I performed my magic trick for her a couple of times and then she was convinced. So convinced that she would tell random strangers on the street that her momma has Mommy Magic! I’m not quite sure how yet, but I know that I’m going to be able to use that to my advantage in the future…

Miley Cyrus, Sisqo and other bad influences

I am a terrible influence when it comes to music choices. I don’t like to admit this to The Husband, but I think My Girl’s twerking moves (see blog post: Billboard’s Next Big Hit – Toilet Time Soundtrack) could maybe, possibly, on some tiny level, be indirectly related to my listening habits. (But I firmly maintain that I have never nor will ever twerk or listen to Miley Cyrus. Ok, that’s a lie. I do own two Miley songs on iTunes, but they are both pre-shaved head and prior to the skin-toned bikini.)

On more than one occasion, though, I may have found myself mindlessly singing: “She’s got dumps like a truck truck truck; Thighs like a what what what; All night long; Let me see that thooooonnnnnggg.” I’m not proud of it. But it happens.

And when I’m not singing child-unfriendly songs, I tend to sway My Girl to listen to my music. For example, I convinced her we had to listen to Ed Sheeran’s new CD for an entire week because it coincided with the letter she was learning in preschool. (In case you’re not an Ed Sheeran fan like myself, his album was titled X. And also, shame on you!)

Making her listen to my music has negative side effects. Like her walking around the house singing: “Uptown funk you up. Uptown funk you up.” This was when she was only three-years-old and enunciation was a still yet-to-be-learned skill. I was sure we were going to have some explaining to do at daycare.

But I do try to encourage Disney songs for the most part. I really do. But I had to institute a new rule recently. No kid songs on the way to school.

Not too long ago, I suffered through an entire day with one of her songs stuck in my head. It’s hard to meet with clients when all you want to do is belt out: “Jump up, turn around; We’ll help Twilight Sparkle win the crown.” Damn My Little Pony…

And yes, I realize the hypocrisy – I make My Girl listen to my child-unfriendly music and make up new rules preventing her to listen to appropriate songs. Again, this is all about why I’m not getting that Best Mom of the Year award.

And then there’s the Adam Sandler problem

I also have a bad, yet I believe, entertaining, habit of quoting movies/books. A lot. I mean a lot, a lot.

This is a habit My Girl picked up on at a disturbingly young age. The worst is when she’s waiting impatiently, she’ll say: “T-t-t-oday, Junior.”

That’s because I say that to her a lot. I mean a lot, a lot.

It’s not so bad when she quotes Baymax from Big Hero 6, but when My Girl starts spouting off Adam Sandler, I worry that someone may call social services, especially since this is Adam at his worst – making fun of a stuttering child who can’t read.

Living in outer space

This one is hard to admit, but I am sometimes that mom who just spaces the important stuff. For the most part, I’ve got my shit together. But I can’t always seem to get My Girl’s shit together (See About the World’s Okayest Mom).

  • My Girl’s very first Christmas… Totally forgot to visit Santa Claus. (Luckily, a family friend had a Santa suit and The Sister arranged a private meeting.)
  • For about a year and a half, My Girl missed every dress up day at daycare or didn’t participate in any of the parties because I had no clue they were even happening.
  • She missed her very first Christmas music program that she had been rehearsing for weeks. When The Husband and I realized our mistake, we decided it was time to take action. I sheepishly admitted to her daycare teacher that we missed the program. She said: “We advertised it with signs on the door.” Me: “Yeah… I didn’t notice them until yesterday when I picked her up” (one hour before the program). Teacher: “We also reminded parents in the monthly newsletter.” Me: “There’s a monthly newsletter?!” Teacher: “Yeah. And we always post the newsletter on the Facebook page.” Me: “There’s a Facebook page?!”
  • This year, I completely spaced her school pictures. See below. Smh. It was one of the few days where I let her dress herself and do her own hair. With that in mind, it could have been worse. (Also, this is the only time her picture has or will see the light of day. Sorry, Family, no school pics in the Christmas card this year.)

And with that list, you’re now nodding along, completely understanding my lack of World’s Best Mom coffee mug.

My GIrl school picture
My Girl’s School Picture – of all the days to let her go casual!