Yesterday, was the windup dance recital for my two youngest grandkids, ages six and nine. Naturally, Hubby and I were looking forward to seeing them dance their little hearts out, but we weren’t green, and we knew what torture was coming down the turnpike. You see, we had been this route before, and looking at the faces of those unsuspecting new parents, all I could feel was pity. They had no idea how the next six hours would affect them.
Scanning the lobby I notice all the cute little kids dressed in their costumes. Everything from poodles to lions and anything circus related, since that was the theme for the year. I’m thinking how sweet the kids look, and how haggard the parents are starting to appear. Yup, those parents had been there since nine a.m. and now it was after one-thirty. They had been through the dress rehearsal, and the daunting task of getting those costumes on and off, numerous times, if their child happened to be in more than one number. Nerves were starting to wear thin. The Lobby was a sea of people, all who have shelled out a pretty good chunk of change for a ticket to see their future dance star hit the stage.
We managed to find the rest of the family, and we huddled together shoulder to shoulder, waiting to be able to move into the theatre and find our seats. Six adults and three kids standing in a tight knit circle when suddenly the conversation stopped and we all looked at each other questioningly. Wafting through the crowd came an unmistakeable odor. Ewwwwwwwwwww. Someone near us had dropped a bomb. Our faces showed our distress, and collectively we shuffled along like a giant spider trying to get out of the contaminated smell zone. My eyes were watering by now. Thank goodness the theatre doors were opening, and that crowd rushed in like they were buying Bridal dresses at the Macy’s once-a-year discount sale.
Hubby and I had the two seats next to the aisle, a strategic place, since the plan was to escape right after the kiddies did their performances. We thought we had it made. Then I opened the program. OH MY GAWD!!!!!… I was going to take my last breath in this place! Five pages filled with dances depicting the circus!! Groan. Okay… don’t panic Val, just take a look-see and find out what number the kids are in. Hooray! Jillian is in the second group, and then the seventh. Not bad. Twenty seven groups follow her and I am sure Ben is in there somewhere. My eyeballs are frantically scanning the program and then I see his name. Yahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa… Geez Louise … that kid isn’t up until after the intermission. The second recital has forty four groups… wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…. and he is number twenty four, and you guessed it, number forty one. I’m openly sobbing now. I’ve only been sitting for ten minutes in this cramped seat and I know the blood flow to my toes has been cut off already. I could lose a leg to gangrene darn it!
The lights dim, and on goes the show. Like most grandparents we practically have a stroke when Jill comes on, looking so sweet in her red and white striped outfit. She’s dancing really beautifully. Too bad it’s a short performance and two minutes later it’s over. We smile at each other, Hubby and I, and our hearts swell with pride, like everyone else whose child was in that group. She’s back on in the seventh act and once again we are on the edge of our seats, watching her be the future ballerina star, looking positively angelic in her flowing blue dress…. for a minute and a half. Sigh. That was it for her.
Now we were trapped there for the next two hours, virtual hostages, waiting for the end of this grueling show, watching kids whom we didn’t know and would never see again for as long as we lived. It’s torture. Sure they looked cute, but cute can’t carry that length of time. Besides, every kid in each group looked the same. Parents and Grandparents kept looking for the fruit of their loins, but all that fruit looked the same. Thank goodness for individuality in the real world. I’ll never complain of kids with red and blue hair again! (Well maybe just a little).
I’m brought out of my reverie by loud clapping as Intermission is announced. Praise be! We bolt out of our seats (those of us who can still move) and run for our lives. Hubby and I find ourselves in line at the bar; we need some liquid courage for the second recital, since we have to sit through another forty groups before we get to see our progeny make his debut. I’m thinking that if we want to make terrorists confess, they should be subjected to a few hours of this kind of stuff. I know by now I’d be crying like a baby, and ready to spill the beans on my best friend, just to make it go away. Nevertheless, it’s back into the House of Horrors for the second recital.
Curtains up and the torment continues. Every once in awhile they throw us a bone and a group that can really dance comes on making the crowd go insane clapping. Meanwhile we are on count down, looking at the program in the dim light, judging how many are left, before we see our little dancer strut his stuff.
Next up is a contemporary dance, and it’s a weird one. The dancers are great, but the music is freaky and I swear the singer on the recorded music is singing “Call me a douche bag.” No electronic equipment is allowed, but looking over the balcony I see cell phones lit up like twinkling stars. It’s obvious that the Dads’ are entertaining themselves with games of their own. Women would never think of doing that… we’d just suffer in silence. Stupid us.
Finally, after four hours of this madness, we are waiting with bated breath for Ben to step on stage. Music starts, we’re hanging on the edge of our seats, gripping onto our purses and programs, and out they come. Yessiree bob…. I said they, kids, seventeen of them, but I only have eyes for Ben. That’s because if I take my eyes off him to see what the others are doing I’ll never find him. Those kids are cavorting around (he’s dressed in a Strongman suit) doing their hip hop to the tune of “Cant Touch This”. Too soon he’s done and won’t be seen again for another sixteen groups, but no matter since the pride factor has made it all worth while.
On it goes, another flood of dancers in circus costumes, impressing relatives with their agility and dance moves. Against all odds, I am still in that seat for Ben’s last performance. Five little kids take the stage, the music swells, and lights come up. He’s dressed in a black pair of pants, sparkly shirt, top hat, and of course tap shoes. Three little boys, and two little girls start tapping those shoes to the beat of “Join the Circus”. I’m watching like I’ve never seen a dancer in my life. A smile pasted on my face that would be there for weeks, because you see, he was actually tap dancing! All those lessons, all that driving to classes, all the practicing was finally paying off. He was dancing, and we were filled with a joy that only a Grandparent can feel at a time like this. Suddenly those hours of torture evaporated into thin air, and all we cared about was our two little grandkids, who knew that we were sitting out front watching them perform.
“What?” “What do you mean there’s another half hour of speeches and awards?” I’m seriously thinking of laying charges of being forcefully held against my will, cruel and unusual punishment, and torture! ( My bum was numb!) Next time I’m packing a lunch, and yes , there will be a next time folks…because that’s what Grandparents do.
Check out the kids in this video and you’ll be smiling all day…
Author Val Enders resides in Spruce Grove, Alberta. She married her high school sweetheart, Richard, and they’ve been together for over 40 years. Val doesn’t consider herself a writer by profession, rather she writes more for her own enjoyment. An accomplished artist, Val’s a member of the Allied Arts Council of Spruce Grove. Visit Val’s “Journey Into Art” website at www.vals.webs.com