And like good parents, My Lovely Wife and I wanted to foster her passions by enrolling her in dance classes. The culmination of those months of practice was a recital … but before the recital was the rehearsal for the recital.
Because My Lovely Wife was stuck in a meeting, the responsibility of getting everything ready fell to me — a rare opportunity to prove my merit as Dad.
From the moment we walked in, it was obvious that backstage was a place fathers dare not tread. Those stage moms stared at me like I was a bartender at a Southern Baptist Convention. I just did not belong. They quickly huddled around Jellybean as if to rescue her and began fussing over her hair and make-up.
“This will not do,” said one woman whose child apparently took her grooming habits from Toddlers and Tiaras. “We’ll fix you right up.”
They redid her hair, fixing this weird headband in a way that would’ve made origami look elementary and put on another layer of make-up, covering up the subtle job her sister, The Diva, had done earlier. Then it happened …
“Where are her khaki tap shoes?” asked one mother aggressively. “She’s got to have khaki tap shoes … you don’t want her going out there wearing black shoes, do you. It just won’t work.”
Stunned, I mumbled something about having to get some before the show, and the whole gaggle of ’em laughed at me like the witches in Macbeth dropping entrails and eye of newt into a steaming cauldron.
“I had to drive all the way to Macon to get So-and-So’s shoes,” one said.
“Well,” I answered, “guess I’d better find a brown Sharpie and get to work.”
Next thing I knew, Jellybean and I were ushered into the theater to wait with the other parents. I was shunned, but Jellybean was having a blast.
It’s easier to put a sweater on a puma than slide a pair of gloves on a squirmy 4-year-old. Finally fully dressed, we ushered the kids backstage to their assigned seats — yep, they had their names written on them, never mind they can’t read — and parents were told to leave.
Oh, that went well. For some reason, the kids weren’t too keen on being left alone in the dark with only the fog machine to keep ’em company. I distracted Jellybean long enough to bolt for the door, offering a prayer that she wouldn’t bum rush the stage when she noticed I was gone.
I’ve got a basset hound and when I leave Cooper at the vet, I can hear that howl from the parking lot. Same goes for Jellybean. I could hear her squeal from the fifth row. But it didn’t last long. Somebody must have learned that the child will do anything if promised custard-filled doughnuts — it’s the only way I can get her out of the bathtub some nights.
For the next two hours, I watched dance troupe after dance troupe shake their groove thang to terrible music. It was about as entertaining as a punch in the throat. Then came Jellybean. She was not only the best dancer in her group, but she was preciousness personified.
And like every parent knows — cute cools a lot of hot tempers. She may not be able to put gloves on and her Daddy may have brought the wrong shoes, but that child can dance.
Contact Brett Buckner at email@example.com