Archive for June, 2010

1989I remember the first recital: sitting in the auditorium of the elementary school in Heber Springs; waiting breathlessly to see my little blonde four year old come on stage with several of her closest friends. I was afraid for her and proud of her all that the same time. I knew she was the most talented four year old ever. I knew she could fail. Then they all came out in red tutus and white tap shoes. They were adorable.
I think of that every year when recital weekend rolls around. My husband calls it dance torture, a nick name quickly adopted by our son, but although the recitals can be long, I never found them torturous. I always pulled out that memory of the little red tutus and that makes it all worthwhile.
Over the years we’ve been at recitals with six different dance studios. For a while, we had two daughters enrolled at two separate studios, a decision that made car pool sense, but complicated recital weekend tremendously. I would send the guys to the older daughter’s recital and take a video camera to the younger daughter’s. As soon as she stepped off stage, I’d grab her and her little pink dance bag and race across town to see the end of the other recital. She was usually the only one in the audience dressed in a little red tutu.
The recitals were always long and it was always difficult to entertain the non-dancers while we waited for the one dancer we came out to see. The son always had his Gameboy, but the husband didn’t have any electronic toys back then. It was years before his I-phone filled that gap. Back then, he sometimes snuck out and went across the street for a beer. When he came back, I’d have to fill him in on what he missed and, of course, he always missed the one dancer we came to see. I’d have to prime him with information so he could pretend he saw the pretty yellow costume or the special turn learned just for that dance.
One time he came back with a bag of fast food which he smuggled by the ushers and the “no food or drink” signs. As soon as he opened the bag, everyone within five rows of us was sniffing and looking around suspiciously.
There was never a correct answer when the dancer asked, “How did I do?”
If you told her, “You looked great. It was wonderful,” you would be accused of not watching carefully. If you made the mistake of offering a criticism, it meant you didn’t love her. I used to hope someone else would fall or lose a piece of costume, so I could deflect the inevitable question.
The mad shoe search was often a prelude to recital. One year I found myself driving to all the rival dance studios offering to buy a size four tap shoe out of their lost and found box, but only if it was a left foot. Hair was a problem too. From the year of the little red tutu, other mothers would always have to help me with my kids’ hair. I’d send them up the street to beg the neighbors for a French braid.
Then there was make up. I’ve never mastered eye liner on myself, never mind on an offspring’s eye. It’s especially hard to draw a straight line on an eye that refuses to remain still. Just because I poked them every now and then! The first time I ever bought false eye lashes, I found myself explaining to a confused salesgirl that they were for my eleven year old daughter. I didn’t even bother trying to explain why I was allowing my eleven year old to wear false eye lashes. I wasn’t sure of that answer myself.
When we moved here, we had two daughters at the same studio, but they still had separate recitals until the younger one was finally promoted to the “big kids” Saturday night recital. Only one recital to sit through was a nice change which, of course, didn’t last.
When we thought we had finished with the older daughter’s recitals, she got a job teaching dance and I was suddenly cast in a new role as the mother of the teacher which required my attendance at the little girl’s recital once again. Her young students were completely unimpressed with my status. I don’t think they really believed their teacher had a mother. Suddenly I was helping to ready a new generation of red tutu’s for their own debuts.
By then knew some of the tricks. I knew to put the tan tights under the pink tights to make a fast change of color possible. I learned to write a name on every single piece of every single costume and every shoe. I learned how to beg the dance teacher for a simpler hair style or else the name of an inexpensive stylist. I learned how the answer the questions after the performances without hurting anyone’s tender feelings.
My daughters learned to be comfortable on stage. They learned the value of stretching and rehearsing. They learned how to negotiate the complicated relationships between adolescent girls competing with each other.
They’re both mostly grown now and last weekend when we sat in the high school auditorium watching our youngest perform her senior solo; I knew that I’m going to miss dance torture and little red tutus.


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One of the reasons I like living in Rogers (or at least close to Rogers) is the chance to work out at for a really low cost. We’ve paid for a few gym memberships over the years so I know what a bargain the city is offering. Most people seem to know about the Adult Wellness Center and what it does for the over fifty group, but I’m surprised by the 30 and 40 somethings who don’t know about the Rogers Activity Center.
I started at the Activity Center even before the AWC was built. For years I went to a step aerobics class three times a week. I couldn’t believe it myself when I started. I’ve never been known for coordination and exercising to music – climbing on and off a step – sounded a little dangerous. I don’t remember what got me to that first class, but I know it was the teacher, Candy Waggoner, and the other class members who kept me coming back. Surprisingly, step aerobics was fun! I remember thinking one Friday morning that I was having fun and it was probably the most fun I would have all day. Actually, that was a little bit depressing at 8 a.m. on a Friday, but, still, you have to seize your fun where you find it.
When the youngest daughter started those early morning cross country practices, I became a step aerobics drop out. I started working out early in the morning while I waited for her to finish running, and then I went into work early. That meant that I could finish work early too, so I never went back to the step classes even after the cross country season ended. I still missed seeing Candy and all the women who became friends over their plastic steps.
From Step Aerobics I moved the elliptical trainers in the RAC small cardio room. At first I would bring a book and open it over the electronic information panel on the front of the machine, but then I discovered “play-away books” at the public library. Of course it wasn’t as easy as that but I’ll save the saga of trying to load audio books onto an MP3 player for another post. The play-away books were specially designed for us technology challenged patrons. So I was happily working my way through the libraries play away collection while racking up the miles on my favorite elliptical when my husband got involved. Always a complication.
He finally agreed to work out, but only at the Adult Wellness Center and only if I went with him. It was a supreme act of wifely generosity when I finally signed up for that membership. I had spent years pretending I wasn’t old enough for the AWC.
The strange thing is that I still listen to my book and he listens to whatever it is he downloads to his I-phone. We don’t talk to each other even if we get side by side machines. When we’re through with our half hour on the elliptical – the maximum time according the AWC rules, I go to the platform and stretch and do crunches. He refuses to stretch, no one knows why, but he walks around the indoor track a few times. Our whole conversation consists of, “You ready?” as we head out the door. So why do we go together? I don’t know.
But that’s how I came to have the two memberships in two city facilities. As a work out enthusiast, I’m a little schizophrenic. Luckily both “gyms” are cheap. The only problem I have is that I constantly try to swipe the wrong card at the wrong gym.

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