The Biggest Little Fan

About 13 seconds into Alexis' dance recital rehearsal, I decided it would be easier to get a cat to sit quietly in an auditorium than it was to get Mila to sit there. She was a wiggly, giggly, whiny, LOOK AT THE SHINY mess all through the hour it took for Alexis to practice her performances.

So, obviously, we took Mila to the actual recital. It was such a good idea! Three hours! Of sitting! Quietly! Easy!


The truth of the matter is that the husband would rather be stabbed in the face with chopsticks than sit through a dance recital. He requested Mila's presence specifically so he would have an excuse to spend the recital in the lobby area. There's a giant TV that shows the performance out there, snacks, and the ability to pace. If you've ever met the man, you know that pacing thing is key. If he can walk back and forth until he has worn a path in the floor, he's much happier.

He sort of got his way. He did manage to spend a fair amount of the recital not crammed into a little seat. Before that, though, Mila sat through the performances. Mesmerized.


Mila sat completely silently while staring at the action on the stage for ten performances. TEN. By the sixth or seventh one, she had even figured out that we're supposed to clap when the music pauses. She so very happily watched all of the bigger kids do their thing. She probably would have made it through more performances if she hadn't been going up against nap o'clock.

If there was ever any doubt that Mila was meant to be Alexis' little sister, there it is. The proof. When a baby starts out life able to enjoy dance performances, she best be paired up with a dancer. Like peanut butter and jelly.


Now if only we could figure out a way to teach the husband how to sit for ten performances without complaining.


About That Recital

Going into this year's dance recital, Alexis was ready to bring the thunder. She spent hours poring over hairstyle ideas on pinterest. She carefully laid out her costumes three times. She even tried on her jazz shoes, which she hasn't worn in months because everything in life is better without shoes, and decided they were too small.

That's a fun thing to tell your mom at 10:00 the night before your recital. For real. It's fun because your mom will laugh and laugh and laugh as she tells you to figure out how to cram your toes into your shoes because NOPE. No new shoes for you, child!

She did get fancy hair, though. Just to make it interesting, I didn't use any of the pinterest ideas Alexis found. Instead, I hit up YouTube and came across something SUPER easy. I mean, you guys, this took about 15 minutes. That includes 12 minutes of holding down the hairspray button so that I could turn the kid's hair into a helmet that will never move.

All of that preparation led to a minor problem -- we were ready too early before the recital. In fact, Alexis was backstage and ready to go a full half hour before she was required to be.

I'll wait.

It's okay.

I know a few of you just passed out from the shock of hearing that *I* was early getting anywhere. I assure you, it does sometimes happen. It just doesn't happen very often.

All that extra time led to Alexis finding some extra butterflies in her stomach. The were angrily fluttering about and making her super nervous, so I set up wifi on my old phone and handed it to the kid. There's nothing that sucks up all of her focus quite like Instagram. Within seconds, she went from OMG SO NERVOUS to asking everyone she could find to be in a selfie with her.

And with that, I had all the entertainment I needed for the next several hours.

Alexis spent all of her backstage moments posting photos to Instagram or texting me to report on every little thing that happened. Her play-by-play was really very fantastic.

I suppose her performances were pretty fantastic as well. Maybe. (Definitely.)

After the show, Alexis was walking on clouds as she excitedly reported everything she hadn't already texted and some of what she had texted. All the words. ALL OF THEM. There were no words left when she was done because she used them all.

And it was fantastic.

(It's a good thing I have figured out how to enjoy things like dance recitals because I'm pretty sure I'm stuck with them forever.)


Dance Dance Dance

There are problems that are born of blogging daily for nine years. One of them is that there really isn't a summary of Alexis' relationship with dance. There are pieces here and there that are part of the puzzle, but you can't see the whole picture from where you're sitting. So, before I write about this weekend's recital, I feel like I should start at the beginning.

The beginning puts us way in the past when Alexis was the age that Mila is now. Nine years can do a lot to change a kid, and HOOBOY has dance played a part in it. Way back when Alexis was a baby, she was shy.

So shy.

Painfully, horribly, terribly shy. It was the sort of shy that's a problem and not just something a kid will outgrow. It was the sort of shy that had to be addressed.

So I did. As soon as she was walking, I enrolled Alexis in a Mommy and Me gymnastics class so that she would have time amongst "strangers" with the mom safety net nearby. That Mommy and Me gymnastics class lasted about a year before Little Miss Alexis asked to be a ballerina. She wanted to DANCE.

Which, fine. The only problem was that dance required that she go into the classroom by herself. Without me. All by herself.

It didn't always go well. She wanted to try most weeks, but many weeks she would spend a good portion of the class crying or clinging to me. But, we stuck with it. I was careful to never get mad at her and only encourage participation. Slowly, so slowly, it worked. Eventually she even managed to go to the front of the room to participate in the end of year show.

Part of the reason I managed to stay patient with the slow transformation was because Alexis was always dancing. Always. She practiced ballet positions in line at the grocery store. She spent hours doing tap routines all through the living room. As a toddler, Alexis danced her way through her days. All day, every day.

Then, when Alexis was four, we moved. I no longer wanted to drive all across town to The Little Gym so she could take the "for fun" dance classes that allowed me to be in the room when Alexis needed it. So, I sought out a studio I thought would be good and ended up picking one sort of near our house.

On the first day of Legit Dance Class, I walked Alexis to the door, told her that I wasn't allowed in the classroom, reminded her to have fun, and walked away. It never occurred to Alexis to question my message -- she walked into that room and never once had a meltdown over me not being close by. There were a lot of other factors, including a long talk with the teacher in advance of that day. We basically just created a situation where Alexis had to decide between dance and me.

She picked dance.

And it was fantastic.

For four years, Alexis was a happy little dancer. But then, suddenly, she wasn't. Last year in the month before her recital, Alexis began BEGGING to quit. I told her she had to finish out the year and then we would talk, but she was really very certain. She wanted to quit. She was so steadfast in her decision that I didn't bother to enroll her for the fall.

But then the recital arrived. Alexis fell back in love with dance during that performance.

Which, fine. Fantastic, even! But, it was a little late to register for fall. Some classes were full, some didn't work with our schedule, there were all sorts of challenges. In the end, I let Alexis pick a schedule that had her quitting ballet and tap. She was sure she wanted to be done with them forever and ever because jazz and gym is her jam. So, whatever.

I let her quit ballet and tap.

Do you want to guess how long it took before Alexis started fussing at me for "letting her" quit ballet and tap? "You know me better than anyone! You should have known I didn't REALLY want to quit!"


I didn't add the classes back to her schedule since they didn't really fit anyway. Alexis whined. Alexis kept on with her other classes.

Alexis flourished.

If you ask Alexis what she wants to be when she grows up, right now she'll say she wants to be a dance teacher. She's all in.

And it's amazing.

Nine years can do a lot to change a kid, so there's no telling what Alexis will think of dance when she's 18. But right now, today, it's her most favorite thing in the world.