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Along for the ride

The Princess had her Competition Ensemble Showcase last night at the dance studio. It was a chance to perform before competitions begin next weekend, work out some kinks, figure out if costumes work and/or need to be adjusted. She as a little nervous yesterday. This is her first year with a solo – something the thought of has always freaked her out before. You’d never know if you watched her now.

I was trying to take video while she was performing in her groups and her solo. I was shaking with emotion. My girlie isn’t the best dancer at her studio. In my entirely non-professional opinion, she’s a little better than average for her age, but she’s not a rock star by any means. She doesn’t have that natural talent that zooms her ahead of everyone else. She has to work hard to get there. In the last year, I’ve watched as she made up her mind what level she wanted to reach, and then quietly work her tush off to get there. She’s very determined. She’s incredibly driven. I don’t push her. I enable her to live her dream, driving here and there, fixing costumes, buying shoes/tights/hair nets/warmups. This is her life. I’m just along for the ride, a happy spectator. I typically drop her off for her classes and don’t often watch rehearsals anymore. She’s thirteen – she doesn’t need me there. And quite honestly, I have too much going on to sit there for two-to-four hours a night, five nights a week. Having not watched much for a few months, I am stunned how far she’s come. I don’t  hold my breath when she’s doing turns (much). I don’t completely freak out she’s going to crash when she’s on pointe. She can hold her own now. I was oh so proud last night. She did well, and danced beautifully. She lights up from the inside when she’s performing. It brought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat.

Our kids have been in sports and activities for ten years now. There is always, on every team, at least one parent who is *that* parent, pushing their kid, yelling at their kid, harassing the coaches/teachers as to why their child doesn’t have as much playing time as this player or that player, or why he isn’t being moved up as the parent believes they should. There is always that parent who is so competitive, making it about themselves rather than about their kid learning a sport, life skills, self-confidence, having fun. It’s hard to watch, especially when it goes so far as that parent putting other kids down. We know our kids are likely not going to be Major League anything. We have never made it about that. Was it somewhat heartbreaking when Big Man decided he no longer wanted to play baseball? Yes, it was hard. But it was his choice. When the Princess was seriously exhausted trying to play competitive soccer as well as dance at a higher level, and a choice needed to be made, we let her make the decision. It was difficult to stand aside, watch her struggle with the choice, especially at ten years old. But what good would it have done if we made the decision for her? What if we made the wrong decision? And so, she dances. I drive…..to classes, to competitions, to private lessons, and soon to auditions for summer  intensives. And he takes golf lessons. I drive to the course, read, and watch the sunset as he practices putting, driving, and chipping.

What it comes down to is this….they’re kids. Sports and activities are awesome. They have so many benefits, and, we believe, are a very important part of growing up. Yes, sometimes those activities do lead to a career. Maybe the Princess will someday become a professional dancer. For now, I just sit back and watch her do what she loves. That is enough.

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