Have I mentioned that this year, for the first time, I am entering the (completely alien) world of the ‘Dance Mom’? My 8-year-old loves new experiences and brims with energy, and I’m well aware that she would have enjoyed something extra-curricular before now; this year, however, was the year it seemed doable, and so she and my 5-year-old are now enrolled at a dance studio. It’s only 7-10 minutes from our house and the prices are very reasonable; it’s also not competition focused, which I appreciate. (That’s a world I have no desire to enter.) Tonight was their first real performance (since last week’s stint at a local retirement home involved tap dances on carpet, which I found somewhat amusing), and we have all survived! (It was touch and go with my 2-year-old; he loved bouncing in his seat for the first half hour or so, and then he took to saying “Done!” after each dance…) I can’t help feeling like a fake among the other dance moms, though. When we got to the nursing home last week I looked at the hair and make-up on some of the other girls, and I couldn’t help feeling sorry for mine. Make-up never even occurred to me; as for hair, I’ve never been good at it, and my best efforts don’t hold a candle to what most of the other moms produced. I also didn’t realize that the ribbons in their costume bags were for their tap shoes, although as soon as one of the other mothers clued me in, it made sense.
Part of the problem, of course, is that I have zero experience in the dance world. (On the other hand, I ought to make a fairly decent band mom someday.) Everything I know about dance I know from watching old movies, and to be perfectly honest, my sister and I always fast-forwarded the “Choreography” number in “White Christmas.” (We can’t be the only ones out there…) I know that Gene Kelly makes dance masculine in a way that Fred Astaire does not; I went to a modern dance performance that my modern-dance-major roommate choreographed, and I sat through the whole thing knowing that it’s not something I get. (I feel somewhat the same about jazz–I respect it as an art form, but it’s not one I personally feel connected to–except that I know enough about music to recognize more of the kind of talent involved in jazz.) I know that after watching my niece’s 6-year-old dance recital, I was compelled to acknowledge Shirley Temple as a talent worthy of a great deal of respect. (She was incredible compared to other kids her age; I still can’t stand her movies, though. She’s cloyingly cute and several wonderful pieces of children’s literature were butchered into vehicles for that brand of cuteness. Her “Heidi” made me want to scream. On the other hand, she was fun as a teenager in “The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer”–you should give that one a try!) Basically, what I don’t know about dance would fill a studio the size of Asia. Someday, however, I want my girls to know this:
I’m absolutely faking it when you think I know where exactly we’re supposed to go. I’m faking it when you think I know what I’m doing, and I’m (badly) faking fancy hairdos. (Sadly, this shouldn’t take them long to figure out.) I’m faking any knowledge of dance you think I possess, and I’m absolutely faking being a ‘dance mom’ (on the theory of ‘fake it ’till you make it.’) What I am NOT faking, however, is the delight I take in seeing you perform something you have worked at for weeks. I’m not faking it when I say I love to see you dance. And I’m not faking it when I sit in the audience and think–that’s my daughter! She’s beautiful!
Because that part of being a dance mom? That’s one I’ve got down.