Monday, May 20, 2013

The Other Side of the Stage

Big change this weekend.

I was on the "mom" side of a performance.

It's a strange transition. When it comes to performances with kids, the majority of my recent experience is as the one who is "in charge". I'm directing, I'm managing, I'm performing. I'm no stranger to big productions. When I was managing the National Choir I was dealing with the performers, directors, parents, house staff, pretty much balancing everyone. When I was working with my choirs, I was selecting, teaching, rehearsing, and polishing the music. I was setting program order. I was doing the tech. I was running logistics, soliciting backstage help, designing programs, communicating with parents.

In other words, I was always really involved. Yes, it's a lot of work, but I sort of feel like I could run a production pretty much on autopilot (although now that I've had a full school year off, I could be a little rusty).

Madison had her first dance recital, and I was finally on the other side of the fence. I was the parent. Just the parent.

It is a very different experience being on that side.

I need to adjust to that role. I don't know that I'm quite there yet.

My struggles started Friday night (actually my struggles started weeks ago when I lost the handbook). Madison needed to be at dress rehearsal at 5:30. She hadn't had a dance class in almost two weeks, and I knew it was important that she be there to practice. I'd asked her to show me the dance at home, but I wasn't sure what it was supposed to look like, and information from Madison isn't always reliable.

"You jump out, and in, and out and in, and you march, and you spin around and around and around and around..."(cue Madison spinning until she falls down while I think...hmmm...what is this going to look like?)

This year Madison is in a studio about a half hour away from us, since they had a class for two year olds and none of the studios in our town started students under three. The recital was about fifteen minutes from the studio.  So basic math told me it would take us 45 minutes.  As a teacher, I knew that on time arrival was really important, so we left an hour before her arrival time. We needed to get there, find exactly where we needed to be, change into costume, do hair and makeup, and be ready to go onstage at the very beginning of rehearsal.

I failed to remember that driving during rush hour on Friday is very different from driving mid-morning on Monday. As I sat in a twenty minute line of traffic just to get on the highway, I realized we were going to be late. Uh oh. Then I started getting messages from a friend of mine, letting me know that parking was not easy because of an afternoon activity, and to be careful which driveway GoogleMaps sent me to, because it was important to go to the right entrance and it could be confusing. I couldn't believe I was already failing at the most basic "mom" task - get your kid there on time!

Relax people, I wasn't texting - or reading texts - as I was driving. I was glancing at my phone while sitting through three or four light cycles, since the road was jammed. 

When we finally pulled in - 15 minutes late - I was thrilled to realize that we weren't the only ones. Not that it makes it acceptable, but at least I wouldn't be slinking inside. This actually made things really great. Madison walked in with her friend, they got dressed right away, and were doing things almost immediately. There was almost no downtime. It was perfect for a two year old. No time for distractions, but enough time to "adjust" to something brand new.

Now I was doing pretty well in my mom role! She had all her costume pieces, she was willing to wear makeup, and have her bun hairsprayed. I took video. I took pictures. I picked up my "mom's pass" for the performance. Madison danced her little heart out and was absolutely adorable.

Afterward she had her celebratory lollipop, changed back into her dress, and watched the big girls dance. She couldn't help but stand up and twirl and dance right along with them. It was adorable. And when she got tired, we could just pack up our bag and leave. She was so excited for recital day and to wear her Minnie dress again. It was great. We got home, put the little dancer to bed, and I uploaded and shared pictures. My updates were full of little Minnie pictures.

(I hate blogger right now. This is where adorable pictures should go, but blogger once again is refusing to upload my pictures. Anyone know what blogger's problem is?)

Saturday, I started getting organized around lunchtime. The recital started at 6:30, and Madison usually goes to bed around 7, so I knew I needed to be prepared for potential meltdowns. Reagan and Adam came too, and that meant another bag for them while they waited around for an hour.

I did find all the costume pieces that had been stuffed in the bag. However, the white gloves, which she wore only for the duration of the rehearsal, were covered in lipstick and dust. Whoops. I worked on cleaning them up and re-organizing the bag, adding all sorts of quiet activities to keep a little girl occupied.

I could not find my "mom's pass" anywhere. I knew that I'd put it in my back pocket when I received it at rehearsal, but I also knew that I knew that was a bad place, and I'd moved it. To.....ummmm.....somewhere.

I spent an hour looking for that thing. I was really tempted to attempt to duplicate it myself so I didn't have to get there and admit that I couldn't even keep track of it for 24 hours. Finally, after a full hour, I found it in a very safe place, and suddenly remembered the entire logic stream that went into putting it there. Right.

I had no idea if I had packed enough, or the right stuff, but we left right on time and made it with time to spare! Win!

Then we took Madison out of her car seat....soaked. An hour is still a long time to expect her to go in the car since she's been out of Pull Ups, especially when she's excited, eating dinner on the road, and out of routine, and since I was distracted, I hadn't been "reminding" her to let me know if she needed me to stop. Whoops.

Took Madison in, found the right place, got her dressed (and ahem, dried), made up, hairsprayed. She was excited and having a great time with her friends.

Then we waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. Her group was tenth - about a quarter of the way through the performance - and we figured it would be about a half hour after the performance started. Ninety minutes after arrival time. This could be tricky.

She didn't want to sit and color, or read books, or watch videos on the iPads that were going. Once groups started getting called a little before the start time, she was done waiting. Either she went on, or she went home.

Sometimes, like in this situation, I forget that she's still two. She won't be three until late July, and since she's so verbal, so smart, and hangs out with girls who are older, I expect her to "act" older too. Then she pulls something that is VERY two-year-old-ish, and I remember.

She started pulling her "actress" routine. She goes off in a dramatic flourish of crocodile tears and collapses on the floor, saying "just leave me alone! Oh MOM. I'm SAD".

Once she started that, and we had another thirty minutes to go, I had a feeling that things were not going to end well. As her mom, I just needed to keep her excited and happy and ready to go...and I was definitely failing. I tried everything in my teacher bag of tricks to keep the performer happy, and everything in my mom bag of tricks to keep my daughter happy.

Can you guess how the story ended? Once her group got called down, they literally ran down the long hallways, went immediately onstage....and she didn't dance.

Don't get me wrong, she was adorable and her group was a total hit. She's certainly not the first tiny dancer to pull a stubborn statue move. But her poor dad, who had never seen her dance, couldn't come to the dress rehearsal, and was really looking forward to seeing her dance, still hasn't seen her dance (live, that is. She's made him watch the video countless times).

Of course, in our parent role, we told her how wonderful she was, and how proud we were, and presented her with a celebratory Ballerina Belle (instead of flowers). She already missed having dance class this morning, and she's asking when she gets to dance again. So we're pretty sure this is the first of many performances, and it will be a cute story of her very first recital, before she'd even turned three.

And I've got some time to figure out how to be on the "mom" side of things.
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