Category Archives: dance mom

Chance Encounters

Last week when I was driving our daughter to dance we saw this license plate:

Chance Encounters-spreading positivity to strangers. (Disclaimer-I did not take this photo while driving, my passenger took it)

Chance Encounters-spreading positivity to strangers. (Disclaimer-I did not take this photo while driving, my passenger took it)

And it prompted us to talk about the fact that vanity plates are often about being vain, yet this person chose to spread positivity to complete strangers wherever they drive.

And then it got me talking about Chance Encounters which I learned about 11 or 12 years ago when I attended a conference hosted by Toastmasters. Each session was with a person embarking upon a career as a motivational speaker.

The session I remember most vividly (actually the only session I remember) was about Chance Encounters.

The speaker (If you know who he is please contact me as I would like to give credit where it is due) spoke of the concept that every choice we make in life affects someone one else. And he called these choices Chance Encounters.

For example, a driver cuts you off in traffic and you respond with a hand signal and some choice words. You then go on about your day. But this driver knew he made a mistake and tried to say sorry to you. He just got fired today and yesterday his wife left him. No one, not even random strangers (you) can’t stand him. What’s the point in living when no one thinks anything of you? When he’s driving over the bridge, he takes a sharp right and drives into the river.

Take the same circumstance, the same driver with the same crappy day. He cuts you off. And he tries to mouth “sorry” to you. You nod your head, acknowledging that everyone makes mistakes. You continue on your way not realizing that you just showed him that strangers can be kind and that life is worth living.

It’s a pretty dramatic example and of course not every situation will lead to such an awful outcome. The point though is that everything we choose to do from hitting our snooze button to letting a driver in to going to bed early has the potential to have an impact on other people. And most often we will never know the implications of that impact.

Every Chance Encounter/choice we make is an opportunity. We can choose to be positive and forgiving or we can choose to be negative and spread misery.

And this driver ahead of us chose to make our day a little brighter 🙂

Best 2 U

The End of Competition Season

It’s been a whirlwind few weeks. Checking costumes, extra practises, getting to competitions, squeezing in a teeny room to change and another one to warm up.

We all enjoy it though. And this weekend brings us our final dance comp of the season. There is an element of relief, but it’s pretty bittersweet. I, who was always a rec soccer player has found that I love being a dance mom. No one in our studio is the scary kind of dance parent, we all help each other out and love to hang out. I’ve made some wonderful friends through my daughter’s dance. And for anyone who thinks I push her she comes home from practise and immediately starts dancing and perfecting her acro tricks. All of the girls do this. Dancing is in their blood, part of who they are.

IMG_2577

One of our moms posted this Dance Mom Prayer on Facebook tonight and I thought it so wonderfully captured it all that I had to share it with you:

A Dance Mom’s Prayer

For Competition Day

Dear Lord, it is competition season and I have a few prayer requests. Please let our day begin well. May our directions from the internet be correct. May we arrive at the venue on time and find ample parking.

May we have every shoe, costume, costume accessory, tights, extra tights, make-up and any other thing you know we will need, but I have failed to list.

Dear Lord, we need to pray for the venue, yes the venue. May the dressing room space we have be shared with a nice studio, with polite girls and parents and may everyone be provided with the understanding that while we would all like more space, this is what we have to deal with and make the best of it. May said dressing room not be located three stories up from the theater. While I know I need to exercise more, I do not want to start today and dancers in tap shoes hustling up and down three flights of stairs makes me nervous!

May my dancer’s make-up be flawless and Lord bless those applying mascara for their dancers. May the hair process go smoothly. May buns be slick and poufs be poufy. May my dancer have a sweet and cooperative attitude so I do not have the urge to push that last bobby pin in a little firmer. 🙂

Prayers to the parents attaching wigs to their sweet little dancer’s head. Give them guidance to adhere those wigs firmly for I have yet to meet a child, tween or teen who wants to be dancing on stage in a wig cap.

Dear Lord, we must pray for the performance. May my dancer be even more beautiful than she was at dress rehearsal and please dear Lord may she stay upright throughout her dances. If you recall, we have experienced that life lesson in the past and survived; but, we would prefer not to have a repeat.

May our quick changes seem effortless and our tights remain intact. Lord, let the fishnets remain free of giant holes. May we be free of costume malfunctions for I have witnessed them and would not wish them on anyone. May hats stay on heads and shoes stay on feet. May Props remain propped. May we not hear the announcement “Can someone from XYZ studio, supply a back up CD”.

Vision – Dear Lord, this is a big one, please provide dance parents and dancers perfect vision for today so they can see when they enter an auditorium at a dance competition there are dancers performing on stage. I repeat, there are dancers performing on stage. Dear Lord provide them with the awareness that now would not be a good time to stand in front of others or talk loudly.

Dear Lord, may parents, friends and dancers understand that hootin’ and hollerin’ and shaking noisemakers for a lyrical or ballet dance just breaks the mood.

For the awards – may the announcer be courteous and entertaining, but not long winded. May the announcement of the awards be quick, but not so rushed that we can hardly understand what scores the dances received.

Dear Lord, at the end of the day….

May I have had an enjoyable day with the other Dance Moms from our team

May I be appreciative of the other studios we shared our day with

May we have been well entertained by talented children who enjoy performing and sharing their talents

May I continue to be amazed at how hard our dance teachers and studio owner work and how much they genuinely love their students

and most importantly

May my dancer leave today with the same confident spirit she had when she arrived.

Amen.

Source: Your Daily Dance

Have a great competition this weekend girls!!!

And then reality sets in…

We know that our eldest child, the one who has autism, really doesn’t have any friends. Honestly he has just one. A boy, very similar to himself whose family we know. It’s very unfortunate that they do not go to the same school and only see each other some weekends.

But knowing he has issues with social interactions and seeing for myself are two completely different things.

The other night I watched him for a few minutes in his hip hop class. He has come a long way, following along and not getting overwhelmed by the music and moving mass of kids. He impressed me with his dance moves. Watching that part of the class, and you would never know… yet it was impossible for me not to notice him in the downtime, the moments of instruction or waiting his turn.

He stood to the side. Looking at anything but the other people. Staring into space. Not as relaxed as he tried to appear. Apart from the others.

It was a small moment, but it pierced me. I began to question the wisdom of putting him in the class. He enjoys it but does not love it. We want him to have these opportunities but I wonder, at what cost to him? How much does he understand? We know that the older he grows, the more he “gets” it, but I honestly don’t know how he feels about it.

Some days he talks about wishing he had more friends, more people to hang out with on the weekends. But most of the time, he operates without seeming to need that social connection.

It breaks my heart every time we do something as a family and he hangs back, chilling in his room or the basement. I know that to a point that is stereoptypical teenage behaviour but still… I want to connect more with him.

And seeing him in a group of age-peers like that, standing to one side, not connected with any of them, drives it home. That he does not connect on a level that we understand. No matter how much we can wish it away, or try to change it, that is who he is. It will never diminish our love for him.

Will Dance Always be our Family Sport?

Our family sport is dance.

I never meant it to be. In fact I didn’t know anything about it or what we were getting into. I’d been a soccer player and dreamed of coaching my kids for years. But then reality set in and I went with the flow.

It all started when our then five year old daughter started a dance program at the rec centre and was hooked. Soon she was enrolled at a well respected studio and then that morphed into her dancing competitively.

Our eldest son enjoys the rec hip hop class, and it’s a good fit for him.

I, who previously danced like *that* guy at the club, am even enjoying the ladies hip hop class.

So it’s a natural question that seems to come up frequently about our littlest one. “Will he dance too?” There seems to be a lot of opinions on whether he should or not, though I find most of the moms at the studio lean towards the yes vote. And the dancers are all hoping to one day have a strong male competitor to partner with.

Certainly for me, it would be easier. We are already at the studio five days a week, so we wouldn’t be going out of our way.

I do sometimes hear comments though about how he should play hockey. And it bothers me that there should be a perception that to be “manly” he needs to play a “manly” sport. Um have you seen the Canadian Women’s Hockey Team? We kick a$$! But seriously, if his heart is in dance then why should he not pursue it? It would be the same for swimming or soccer or hockey. I want active, happy kids. Not coerced, miserable ones. We will certainly expose him to dance, but ultimately it will be his choice as to whether or not he becomes a dancer. Or a gymnast. Or a hockey player.

For now though, I need to have patience, as the little guy is just shy of a year old. Lots and lots of time for him to find his niche. And lots of opportunity for us try out new things that we’ve never experienced before.

Reality tv moms actually exist

The holidays have left me brimming with stuff to write about, I mean there’s certainly a ton of new material when you throw in Autism, family gatherings, out-of-town family and a huge ice storm that wrecked havoc on homes and businesses. And I’m sure posts on some of these things will come. But that will be later. Right now I’m interested in a conversation I had yesterday with my daughter.

She is currently dancing as part of the cast in a local production. With about 15 kids between the ages of 6 and 17 in the cast, there are obviously a lot of moms who hang around in the back, helping with costumes, makeup and gossiping.

Two of the moms in particular are aggressively vocal, dominating the conversations and spreading their particular brand of nastiness like a poison around the room. They complain about everything, brag about their sons getting ejected from hockey games for mouthing to the ref, brag about yelling at store clerks while they make unreasonable demands and generally treat their children like crap. Being trapped there as witness to their behaviour makes me feel like I’m trapped in some circle of hell watching a mash up of the worst traits of “Dance Moms”, “Toddlers and Tiaras”, and “Wives of some random rich guys” (Or whatever that last one is called.)

I don’t care for that aggressive, put-people-down style of television and until now, I hadn’t believed that people on those shows really, truly exist.

I, and other moms, choose to ignore most of it, but I hadn’t realized until yesterday just how much little ears were paying attention.

“Mom,” my girl asked, “Have you heard those two moms in the change room?” I sighed, knowing at once whom she was referring to. I described them just to be sure and she said “Ya, how come they are so mean?”

I sighed again and explained that some people feel better by putting others down and treating them like dirt.
“But how does that make them feel better?” Good question. One that I don’t have the answer for.

In fact, talking about these moms felt a lot like talking about bullies at school. Sigh. I know some people never grow up, but how do I explain that to a ten year old who wants everyone to get along?

I find it really sad that people feel the need to live like that. Yes we all have bad days, and sometimes need a few minutes to bitch about it/get it off your chest, but there comes a time when it is time to stop dominating the conversation with your complaints, close your mouth and just listen to someone else.

Just imagine what a wonderful world it would be if all the complainers in your life (especially those you can’t choose to get away from such as family members or other parents at school or dance) would just learn an ounce or two of self-regulation and stop after two minutes? The very air would be easier to breathe and the negative impact on our children would be greatly reduced.

In the end, I told my daughter how I avoided getting sucked into the negativity, and how I ignored most of it. It’s not the most satisfactory answer, as it seems to leave something hanging, but it was the best I had at the time. And it’s not my job to change these women. But is it at least partly my responsibility when their comments are being noticed by my child? Maybe. But I am not good with any confrontation, even if I am in the right, and I am chickening out of even a gentle rebuke. I know I will bump into these women again at future productions and maybe competitions, maybe then I will say something, and then again maybe I won’t. I know I don’t treat others like that, so I know that the example I am setting my children is the one I want them to see and emulate. And that is clearly my job and it’s one I take seriously.

The reason I don’t win anything

This past weekend I was doing what all competitive team parents must do at some point:
The Pub Night.
I know some people really enjoy it, and honestly it wasn’t bad at all–the company was fun!

It was also the first snowfall of the season that day and it kept a lot of people home. (Why do the forecasters always create so much drama over the potential maybe’s of a storm and basically shut the town down for a couple of cm?)

So it was quieter than we had expected and the bids on our silent auction items weren’t quite as vigorous as we’d hoped.

We were joking that with the lack of bids we would all end up going home with something, and I turned to my friend beside me and said that it wouldn’t matter, because I never really win anything.

She said to me that she never did either and that was ok. Because we have everything that we need in our lives, so we don’t need to win anything

Well. Um. Yeah.

So instead of complaining any further about it, I changed my view. I have everything I could possibly want. Three awesome children, an incredible husband, a silly dog, a four bedroom home, a van (yes I’m even grateful for the van!), and wonderful in-laws. Who could honestly ask for anything more?

Thank you to my fantastic friend for pointing out the obvious when I obviously needed it.

Life’s Lessons

Although my recent posts have all been about autism and the challenges we are facing, we do have two other children as well. Our daughter at who 10 years old is a competitive dancer who is more graceful than I will ever be. When I say grace I do mean physical grace (I’m clumsy enough to fall into a half empty pool in winter, but that’s a story for another day 🙂 but I also mean that she has an emotional grace, handling peer-to-peer situations with grace and respect in a manner that I never could have achieved at her age.

A couple of weeks ago she showed her emotional grace in a way I hadn’t foreseen.

This is her third year of dancing competitively. Her first year, she was in two group routines. Last year she was invited to three group routines. This year we were thrilled for her to be invited to be in five group routines. Our pocketbooks didn’t share much of that joy, but that is a choice we made.

Before I go any further, anyone who thinks that I am a “dance mom” aka the horrible show on lifetime, please get over that. Our daughter chose dance (frankly I always pictured myself as a soccer mom) and chose to do competitive. We do not push her, though maybe we should have a bit.

You see, the envelopes indicating the small group, duets and solos that dancers were invited to came out a few weeks ago.

Our daughter was devastated to not receive one. She expected that this would be her year for a duet. I thought she was on track for it too, though I wasn’t positive.

Our studio is adamant that they won’t push a dancer beyond their abilities. Judges at competitions can be downright mean, and there is no point subjecting a young dancer to that nastiness.

So, when I walked my sobbing daughter to the owner of the studio to talk about it, she was met with a gentle yet firm answer: Watch your posture and be consistent.

That night there was lots of talking about it and why it had to happen to her. I felt awful for her that night. My poor baby. I of course had mommy guilt for not pushing her harder, though hubby did point out that had I tried, she would have pushed back and likely not done it. This way, he said, she would really learn her lesson about hard work. Sigh. What a way to learn that lesson.

The next morning she was quiet, so I didn’t ask her much. In fact it wasn’t until we were in the van after school heading to dance that she told me she had made up her mind. Oh? I asked wondering, as parents are known to do, just what I was about to hear.

“I’m going to make them realize that they made a mistake!” she said with determination. That’s my girl! She had her cry, thought about how to fix the issue and realized that she will have to prove herself. I’m proud that it’s her choice and not something I’ve pushed her to do. By giving her that space, I think and hope, that she will have learned the value of work ethic and not have to keep learning it over and over.

And by choosing not to wallow in her sadness, but to turn it into a positive effort to change, at ten she has shown an emotional grace that many adults are incapable of.

That’s my girl.