Living

Anything can — and will — happen at a child’s dance recital

For years I spent more hours than I can count at athletic venues around the city, an endless roster of activities that have since blurred into a mental decoupage of baseball mitts, football pads, and uniforms in every color.

When there weren’t games, there were practices, and our social schedule revolved around one or the other. Truly, it was how our family marked the seasons.

Not one of my children was ever interested in anything artsy and only my daughter, alone among four brothers, had a very short-lived relationship with a piano teacher. Which is to say I was never privy to the world of concerts, recitals and stage performances.

Now I have granddaughters and it’s all about the dance, and the tutu, and the tap shoes, and the beat-beat-beat of a song. “Watch me!” the older ones command, as they fiddle with my smartphone to find the appropriate music. “Watch me dance!”

And I do, marveling at their agility and flexibility. Marveling even more at the joy they receive from their hastily executed pirouettes and splits. If I even tried to do that, I’d … well, that’s not the point here.

We are entering that very special time of year, when our precious angels get to show off what they’ve learned and why their parents have forked over hundreds of dollars to instructors. As doting grandparents our only responsibility is to clap and cheer and encourage, knowing full well that anything can happen when the curtains part and the lights flick on.

It often does.

At a recital there’s no telling what the audience will witness. You might see a perfectly synchronized act – or a dozen little girls sobbing hysterically. I hate to admit this but it’s true: Nothing is as mortifyingly funny as stunned toddlers paralyzed by the command to behave like trained circus animals.

Last year, my then 2-year-old granddaughter stood rooted to her spot while her dance mates shimmied all around her. Actually, that description isn’t quite accurate. In one number, as Meghan Trainor crooned the words to Dear Future Husband, my granddaughter used her bouquet of flowers to sweep the stage, oblivious to her teacher’s flailing arms and the other diapered dancers.

She brought the house down, just not in the way the dance studio intended. But … she looked absolutely adorable, if I say so myself.

This year as a more mature and experienced 3-year-old, she “performed” in her end-of-school show without shedding a single tear, but she kept the beat of a song by flapping her skirt over her head repeatedly. The Hubby and I were so proud of her.

“Well,” mused my son, “now everyone knows she’s wearing Olaf underwear.”

Here’s another verity from the frontline of recitals: Unless your grandchild is on stage, you’re bored to tears. I recently gave up an entire Sunday afternoon to watch the 5-year-old and her twin sisters shake-shake-shake it. In my opinion, their performances were the only numbers worth watching. Sorry, but your kid simply isn’t as interesting as mine, and this has nothing to do with talent or rhythm, or lack thereof.

Now that I’m on the circuit, these recitals have made me nostalgic for the simpler demands of baseball and football, when there was no need to worry about makeup or bobby pins or costumes that cost enough to feed an orphanage.

In retrospect, catching a pop fly or making a tackle seems so much less complicated than keeping a gaggle of 3-year-olds from crying while a Taylor Swift medley plays in the background.

Ana Veciana-Suarez’s column appears Sunday.

Write to her at The Miami Herald, One Herald Plaza, Miami FL 33132, send email to aveciana@herald.com, or follow her on Twitter @AnaVeciana.

McClatchy News Service

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