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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Embracing the fringe.....

We all have those times where you get the distinct feeling you are not, shall we say, fitting in. For me this category of life experience stretches far and wide...starting as the only  raging liberal at gatherings with my immediate family.

I was the young mother on the beach at the local lake reading Cosmo instead of Country Living or Self.

I was the Not-so Soccer Mom, dressed in black and wishing the team would maybe NOT make it to the play-offs.

I was the co-worker who refused to participate in the "secret Santa" hooha because it stressed me out.
And...I didnt like people.

But I was also the Mom that let her kid wear a cape and yellow rain boots to pre-school almost everyday because that was HIS thing. ( One of the other Moms once said " Why is he wearing a cape?"
My response? "Why aren't WE?"...

We were the family with a swing in the living room because,,,well, because we could.


I know, dear reader, that you think my life is all online dating hi-jinks. One exciting (pathetic) encounter after another with a  steady stream of diverse (weird) and interesting (scary) men.
Swannygirl has a life.
I am a grandmother. More specifically, Meema.

And the Meema part of my life recently brought me to the world of "Dance Recital".
Oy Vey..
Talk about not fitting in.

Grand daughter #1, Lovebug, has been taking dance lessons all winter. She turned 3 in March. It was something for her and I to do together and it was mostly fun. Class once a week with other kids her age. It was low key and fairly non-structured, the kids had fun following the lead of their VERY energetic teacher. The Moms, occasional Dad, and a couple G-moms hung out and watched, but mostly gossiped and gabbed.

I had noticed from the get-go that Lovebug and I tended to have a much more ...let's say "relaxed" attitude towards the whole venture. I feel like 3-year olds should not be put into high stress situations as a general rule of thumb. But I couldn't help but notice the difference in, shall we say, GROOMING that was happening with many of the other little girls. Hair done perfectly, Tights and shoes to regulation. Whole outfits of frills and ribbons. And all of this by 9am!
Lovebug and I were usually 2 minutes late and I would be chasing her around to get her dance shoes on, hoping that they were a matched pair. She loved to talk to everyone and in the class, would run around  "free form" quite frequently.

I thought she was brilliant.

It was a win in my book. She was having fun, we met a bunch of nice kids and their parents, and she and I usually went out for breakfast afterwards. Yay!

But then talk of the RECITAL started. My stomach clenched, but not wanting to project onto Lovebug, I kept it to myself and, well, kind of ignored the whole thing.

Let's just say, that ignoring it didnt make it go away ( WHY does that never work?!) and fast forward to a couple Saturdays ago.

I had frankly considered sitting out the recital. The costume (pink/purple/glitter nightmare) was expensive and then we had to buy tickets as well. I also had a sneaking suspicion that Lovebug would not be thrilled with the whole activity when it came down to it.
We had a conversation that went something like this:
SG - So we have your recital coming up for dance class.
LB - What's that?
SG - It where you get to do your dance on stage with your friends and all the mommies, daddies and grandparents get to watch you!
LB- (with lip curled perfectly) I am not doing that.
All righty then.
I said something non-committal like " we'll see what happens".

The weekend arrives. LB spent the night before at my house.
We had a wonderful morning.
We went for a walk with the dog, caught a toad, watched dragonflies, practiced tricycle riding and hung from the jungle gym at the playground. Lunch with "our Jane" of french fries and pickles and then it was time for nap.

All the while the costume hanging in her room at my house....with an air of foreboding.
OK, that part may have just been ME.

LB woke up from nap a little bit, shall we say, out of sorts. Have you tried dressing an unwilling tearful 3-year old in tights and tutu? I was sweating and rumpled to say the least.
she RALLIES, because she's so awesome!
We sing in the car on the way to the auditorium. We talk about who will be there and about her friends dancing.
We walk into that place smiling and happy and ready to DO IT.
And .....boom.
That feeling. No LB , we are not in Kansas anymore.

These women and girls are...polished. Hair, make-up, nails, outfits. As I watched one mother carrying her darling's costume in a plastic cover gently across her arms so not to muss it, I was remembering that LB had gotten some pee on hers earlier and I had forgotten to sponge it off....oh well.

Three different mothers offered me make-up for LB while we were backstage waiting. By this time I've adopted a slightly "mother lion" air and just want to get through this with the fewest casualties possible. LB had her whole G'rent posse out there waiting plus Mom and Dad.
Then, one of the other mothers was talking to me and, with a look of REVULSION told me I had a tick crawling on my shirt. I thought she might actually faint, especially when i picked it off with my fingers.
Welcome to my life dear...
That tick was the least horrifying thing that happened that day as far as I was concerned.

We got closer to Showtime. LB's little band of dancers were going on third. But when the first group lined up to go on stage, all hell broke loose. All but one of the group started crying, LB included. Most were passive but LB had a "get me the fuck outta here" air about her...
I talked to her. One of the Dance School aides was bribing her with candy.
I was friggin torn.
This isn't a wimpy kid, She is game for a lot. But she was giving a very clear "NO, Meema" message.
And I didn't listen.
I waited until she was distracted by a video on someones phone and I went to my seat. Except I didn't sit down. I waited to the side of the stage, with a couple other anxious parents, in the back of my mind thinking "if its really bad I'll scoop her up".
The group came out..and?
She was SOBBING. Actually Boo Hoo'ing. Wiping her tears with the foot of her prop teddy bear.
Behind me, I hear my son swear.
And say something about going up there and getting her.
He is my son.
But I said "give her a minute" ,,,,
God dammit,,,it was terrible. She never stopped crying. The stupid song was blessedly short. Every one of those kids was crying except for one who was a total rock star..
I flew back to the stage hallway before she came off the stage and she flew into my arms, still crying.
All done LB, all done with dancing.
"OK Meema!"

I told her she had done a great job, she was brave and wonderful and strong.
All the time myself.

Why, WHY, do we not listen to ourselves?
When do we stop?
What are we teaching our kids when we are not true to that voice inside?

I  believe in pushing ourselves, in the challenge of new things, in trying things on for size.
 But it should be our CHOICE ,,,to say no.
NO, this one is not for me.
NO, I thought I wanted to, but I don't.
NO, I might later but not right now.
NO,  I need more time to think.
No, no, no........

Lovebug was fine, of course.  She sat in the audience with the rest of us, watching the other kids, joyfully playing in the arms of the G'rent posse, being silly with her baby sister and gleefully testing her parents.
She is a mighty girl for sure.

But I will not skip this lesson again with her, or with myself.
 Listen to yourself baby girl.
 Listen to your heart and listen to your gut.
You are the expert on You.

S'all good.

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