There are certain areas in which you excel as parent (usually areas related to the things you were good at/enjoyed as a child) unfortunately sometimes your children don’t get the memo and decide to take up things in which you have absolutely no ability.
When I take to the dance floor people run for cover, with flailing limbs, jerky twists, and unrhythmic stomping, my husband calls it the demented chicken style of dance.
Eldest daughter asked for dance lessons at age five. She spent endless hours twirling, whirling and leaping around the living room in her own special freewheeling, Hippie Child style, so lessons seemed a natural progression. Hippie Child lasted one term. Once somebody started trying to contain the freestyle and enforce some structure to the method, all hell broke loose.
“They make us skip in circles, I’ve known how to skip for YEARS. It’s boring.” So that was that, I thought I’d dodged the dancing bullet.
Then the youngest daughter, who has always had a great love of sparkles and spangles, declared she wanted to learn to dance.
It took a bit of searching to find a dance class that mentioned the word “fun” rather than providing a lengthy word-document on rules, regulations and obligations. It seemed in many cases signing up to dance meant giving up any possibility of a life outside of the stage, and when I calculated the numbers, would probably require a second mortgage.
However, we find a nice little affordable class with a “bit of everything” and “no pressure” and off we go.
Now one should assume if one takes part in the performing arts at some point a performance is going to be required. We didn’t have to do the eisteddfod circuit but it would be nice if we showed up for the Christmas concert. Deep breath, lots of reassurance, we can do this, yes we can.
A list came home, we were going to need shimmer stockings, jazz shoes, nude underwear, foundation, eyeshadow, lipstick, eyeliner, fluro top, hair net (and hair had to be up in a bun).
Please note when I describe myself in about me as a “frumpy mummy” I wasn’t kidding. Most days if I’ve got matching shoes on and my teeth brushed when I leave the house it’s an achievement. I don’t think I’ve worn eyeliner since the mid 80’s (and even then I tended more toward the “panda” look than the “sexy”) and I’ve never done a bun in my life. I felt that rising panic feeling you get when you know you are in over your head but there’s no way out.
Also, I think I may have been supposed to sew sequins on costumes but the message doesn’t get to me. I suspect Princess child diverted it by explaining “mum can’t sew” (my children are very aware of my limitations). I’m not sure which poor mother ended up doing our costume but I am really, really grateful and if you are a drinking woman I’m more than willing to shout you a bottle of your favourite drop!
Gradually we collected required items and we even managed to get through the dress rehearsal OK (we did put a really, really small hole in the shimmer stockings but at 16 bucks I figured we would just have to make do). Hippie Child only took three goes to get the bun right on her sister and I conveniently forgot about the eyeliner.
I was feeling quietly confident – and THERE WAS MY MISTAKE.
Come the big day, we realised we had lost the hair net, the one hair net my friend Ally had given me two weeks ago. We dispatch husband to the chemist to get a replacement, but realise after he left that if we don’t have the hair net then we don’t have the bobby pins either, try calling him only to have his mobile phone ring cheerily on the kitchen bench.
Hippie Child waits outside and when husband gets back tells him we need bobby pins. Hippie Child learns some new words to increase her vocabulary – but probably not ones she can use at her nice Catholic school.
I struggle through the make-up and the eyeliner is only faintly “panda”. Hippie Child takes eight goes to get the bun right this time but we lather hard with hairspray and hope it all holds together.
The hole in shimmer stockings gets bigger.
The stress is really getting to me.
Then off we go, the whole family in tow, me, husband, Hippie Child, Nana and Aunt Dorothy.
Yesterday had been a grey, cold and raining day in Port, today hot and sunny. School auditorium not air-conditioned. Princess Child appears in last dance of first act, the entourage cheer wildly.
By interval we are desperately trying to stave off dehydration and marvelling at the irony of listening to Winter Wonderland while perspiring in 30 plus degree heat. Will somebody please write some Aussie christmas songs that do not involve snow!!!
Princess child appears on stage twice in the second act, including a colourful finale piece to Party Rock Anthem, which she nails.
The most improved award goes to her group – and she’s thrilled.
So in the end, she had a good time, we all survived. Although we may not be appearing on So You Think You Can Dance anytime soon, if she can get up and shake a tail feather on the dance floor at a party without looking like a demented chicken we’ll be happy.