Thursday, January 28, 2010

Life is One Big High School

I took my daughter to her tap and jazz dance class tonight. We have the misfortune of having this class on the same night that all of the school's competing dance lines have their rehearsals. These very talented little wind-up dolls are ill mannered, snotty little pigs. They throw their belongings about the dance studio, leave their trash on the floor, and walk around as if the world should worship them. We usually keep to ourselves and ignore them best that we can.

This week, we walked into the studio, and a table of mothers turned around to look at me. Two of them turned back, said something to the rest of the table, and then they all turned to stare at me. I simply walked past them and got my daughter ready for her class. One mother that I had a run-in with last year was looking quite amused, one was staring daggers at me, and another couldn't look me in the eye. Very strange behavior even for them.

I have to say that I have developed a thick skin over the years. I don't look like everyone else. I've become a bit hefty. I have these big prominent eyes and a big nose. I like to think of it as unconventional beauty. However, these mothers are no beauty queens themselves. I was a bit puzzled. I left the dance school to run some errands and came back 15 minutes before class was dismissed.

I was standing with two other mothers watching our girls dance. Smiling little nine-year-old girls having fun. One of the other mothers walked up to me and told me that there had been a problem during the dance class last week. (We were gone last week for my daughter's school play.) Evidently, three of the little competing dancers had been watching the girls dance through the classroom window, and one said, "Can you believe how BAD they are?" The three of them laughed and walked away. This mother had heard it and immediately walked to the office to speak to the school's owner/director about it. The director called all the competitive dancers into a classroom and gave them quite a talk about it.

Suddenly, things started to make sense to me. This other mother looks a great deal like me. About the same height. Similar hair style. I think the mothers at the table in the lobby thought that I was the one who had reported the problem. It's not hard to see why their kids turned out the way they have.

And all I have to say is that I am happy it was the other mother who overheard it. I may have had my "brain clutch" disengage, and who knows what I would've said.

I turned back and watched my daughter's class smiling and having fun. How do I prepare her for a world full of a**holes? When someone picks on her at school, I help her figure out how to handle the situation. I always tell her that the world is full of negative people, and you can't let them get to you. I have always made sure to get my daughter involved in many different activities so that she can gain confidence in herself. She can hold her ground in any situation, but I always know that she is shaking inside, unsure of herself deep down. And I hope and pray that she develops a thick skin too. If she had heard that girl's comment, she would've been devastated.

We have one more year at this dance studio after this year. My daughter wants to get her five-year pin. It has been her goal for the last three and a half years. And I'm going to make sure that she achieves that goal.

I've mentioned in this blog before that sometimes having to take the high road sucks. The only thing that is getting me through this situation at the dance studio is a wish that I have. It's a wish made by my alter-ego who I keep buried deep down inside of myself because she is a heinous bitch. And the wish is that someone somewhere will treat these ugly, selfish little brats from the dance line how they treat other people. I really wish I could be there when it happens.

Something tells me that I'm not going to get through the next year and a half without being confronted by one of the dance line lobby mothers. Maybe I should let my inner heinous bitch come out to play . . .

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." Eleanor Roosevelt

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Art of Time Management

There comes a point when you and your kids choose extracurricular activities in which they want to participate. Dance has always been the activity of choice for my daughter. She's been dancing since she was five. We go to the classes every week, we buy costumes and primp for photos. We spend time practicing for the yearly recital. This year, she decided to participate in tap, jazz and ballet which means two nights of dance lessons each week.

Then there is softball every summer. Now, there is softball camp every Sunday afternoon to prepare for the summer softball season.

Then the opportunity for music lessons came along. My daughter decided to join the orchestra and play the 1/2 violin. Since neither my husband nor I had music lessons ourselves, we gladly signed her up.

Now she decided to participate in the school play "Sleeping Beauty". Since she got the part of a Chorus Girl (I'm not sure what version of "Sleeping Beauty" has chorus girls, but whatever) she is spending almost every evening this week rehearsing for the play.

Add to that the usual homework and recorder practice for music class, and we're on a pretty tight schedule. It didn't hit me until I was watching her in softball practice on Sunday. She was waiting in line to practice her fast pitch, and she was practicing her dance steps while she was waiting. Now that's multitasking.

She wants to do it all, and I want to encourage it to a point. I am hoping that she really falls in love with one activity, but so far she likes everything. And she is an excellent student with very good grades.

Raising that girl is getting to be a full-time job.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Time Warp

I'm taking down our Christmas tree today. It always amazes me how many ornaments I've collected over the years. I still remember where I got each one, and I love them all.

It just really hit me today how fast the years are passing by. I swear, I don't feel a day over 28. I'm still surprised when I see the lines under my eyes and the grey in my hair. Where did the time go?

Here's a video for all you fortysomethings. It's one of my favorites. And, yes, I did rock out to Wham!, loved Duran Duran, and wanted to dance on the hood of Whitesnake's car.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Swinging On a Star

There was something about my Dad that was unique and wonderful. Maybe I imagined it because I am his daughter and loved him so very much. Maybe it was a quality shared by those brave members of the greatest generation who left behind all they had ever known to fight and die on foreign soil. Whatever it was, imagined or real, it has survived long after he left us 21 years ago today.

There was a dichotomy to my father's personality. He was at times serious and solemn and very direct. He had a bad temper. He worked hard and expected no less from those around him. He did not sit still for long unless he was on his riding lawnmower. He would mow for hours making patterns on the lawn. It must've been a type of therapy for him. He was usually happiest when there was work to be done.

And then there were times of pure joy. There was a spring in his step. A twinkle in his eyes. He loved nature and baseball and talking to people. He loved his home. He was loyal to his family. He took care of everything.

For as long as I can remember, one Sunday every month was spent driving to see my paternal grandfather who lived a little over an hour away. My Grandpa owned an antique store. We would visit him and take him out for lunch and then return home. In later years, my Grandpa had no short-term memory. We still visited him every month until his failing memory forced him to live with my Aunt. And after he passed away, my Dad was the one who tended to his grave site. He bought the grave stone, planted flowers and tended to them every day in the summer. It never mattered that he and his father had not had a good relationship when my Dad was young. He felt it was his duty to respect his parents. And he did.

My Dad had a wonderful singing voice. I heard a story that he had won a 4H contest when he was young. He had sung "Beautiful Dreamer". One of my most cherished memories is of my Dad swinging me back and forth in his arms and singing "Swinging on a Star" when I was small. He knew the entire song. And I would giggle when he would sing the verses about a mule, a fish and a pig. It's a memory that I keep close to my heart.

His passing left a void in my life the size of Texas. Many times I've wondered what Dad would've done . . . I hear his voice in my head saying, "Think twice before you do once." I find myself wondering what he would've thought about certain things. Is he somewhere where he can still look out after us? And what is he doing to keep busy now? For a very long time, the not-knowing bothered me.

I feel his presence around me all the time. Not long ago, I lost control of my van on an icy road, and it was his voice I heard yelling for me to turn the wheel. Last summer, my son had a double play on first base in a baseball game. He tagged the runner going to second base and then got the batter out at first. Then he caught a fly ball. He got all three outs that inning. As I was cheering on my son, I felt something on my shoulder and then a slight breeze blew by me. And I knew my Dad saw the whole thing. This morning when I looked out the window at the cold, sunny sky and thought about missing my Dad, a cardinal flew up onto my deck and looked at me as if to let me know that my Dad misses me too.

Mostly, I feel his presence through my children. My daughter who is solemn and studious, and my son who is happy-go-lucky. Both have his mannerisms. My son has his eyes and smile. They ask about him from time to time. I show them a couple of pictures I have. Flat, one-dimensional images of a man they never knew. I tell them stories. They like to think that he is in Heaven with angels. I like to think that he sits on the moon and swings from stars.

"And all the monkeys aren't in a zoo. Every day you meet quite a few. So you see, it's all up to you. You can be better than you are. You could be swingin' on a star." Lyrics from "Swinging on a Star".