Friday, June 30, 2017

Dance Nationals Year Two

Night and Day.

That is how different Nationals was in 2016, as compared to 2017.

Last year, Madison was the only "mini" who attended. Because it was just her, she (obviously) didn't do any group dances. We were there three days. She competed her solo on one day, and had one additional awards ceremony she attended two days later. One dance, two awards, that's it. We stayed at a hotel a few miles away, and though we came to the competition venue frequently to watch and hang out with the older girls, we had a lot of downtime and spent a lot of time as "just us". It was a good first experience, the older girls were wonderful and inclusive, and she did well, taking second place in her category.

This year, totally different. Madison's entire team attended, which meant that she performed all her group dances. She also filled in a spot on another team in her studio who was down a few dancers, did the full team production number, and competed her solo for the National Title. We arrived on Sunday afternoon and left Friday night. She danced Monday, Wednesday, Friday, had a ceremony on Thursday, and attended the convention classes on Friday morning. She had one true day off, which we spend entirely with the team on the beach and at the pool. We stayed at the main hotel, were with friends and teammates a majority of the time, and left on Friday evening, exhausted.

Was it perfect? Of course not. The weather was sunny most of the time, but the wind was intense, which made hanging out at the pool a little tricky. Spending time with friends meant big groups in small restaurants. As always happens when people spend a lot of time together, little issues flared from time to time. The girls stuck together fiercely, but did have moments of feeling left out or frustrated. The moms generally got along beautifully, but occasionally got frustrated with the group think. The team as a whole seemed a little more segregated as well. Our first year, without our own group, we were wrapped in with the "big girls", but now that we had a group of our own, the "big girls" seemed to separate off and do their own thing. Madison jumped a category so she'd be eligible for title, and though she performed very well and was very proud, seventh place didn't have the same ring as second.

Still, would I prefer year two over year one? Completely. I became closer to several of the moms, Madison and Reagan both became even closer with their friends, we were busy and occupied, but still had plenty of time to hang out by the beach and pool.

And the beach one year later?

I've said before that five and seven seems like the sweet spot of parenting, and that was very clear at the beach. The girls can play with their friends without my active participation, I can give them rules that they can follow, they don't fight me on sunscreen, and I can even trust them to keep the sand out of the car. A shore vacation seems like something we can handle easily, and a day trip can be a spur of the moment thing.

Madison wrapped up her fifth year of dance, her third year of competition team, and next year promises to be full of more changes. When I write about Nationals next year, it may be with two team dancers!
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