March 16, 2021

Irish dancing: when it kicks you in the butt, I say kick back

*Please note, this post purposely contains no big, complicated words like 'aisle', which I spelled as 'isle' in my last post. My brain is clearly tired, so I'm trying to save myself the embarrassment of using complex language out of fear of once again looking like a moron.


There's one at every Irish dancing school. A nutty mom. A woman who knows no boundaries. A lady who thinks she knows all there is to know about Irish dancing. A woman who would drive you to drink. Guaranteed. It must be a rule. 

*Insert dramatic pause while I open a Mike's Hard Lemonade at 4:15 pm while a few tots are still here napping. Kidding! I've only been driven to drink in theory.

I especially enjoy newcomers who are first generation 'I SAW LORD OF THE DANCE' types who can't wait to sign a kid up to dance. Mary Ann actually qualifies for this designation. When these people try to instruct me in the ways of Irish dancing - as Mary Ann once did, I get all smirky and wise-ass-y. It can't be helped. I endured 8 years of Irish dancing growing up, then I taught at a dancing school for a few years before I married Coach. None of these I-just-got-here types are going to tell me how it's done. Of course, the fact that I sucked at dancing is irrelevant. I still know my stuff.

Excuse me judge, could you take pity on me
and just award me with something?
It would make the 8 hour drive
 home from Ohio less painful.

It's just my luck that the nut-job mom at my kid's dance school has a daughter who is the same age and competition level as Curly. Our dance school is VERY small. Um, this is our 3rd Irish dancing school, which is a whole long story. 

Switching school fallout summary: Changing dancing schools is very rare. Sometimes a change takes place once in a dancer's career, but most people avoid it like the plague. The powers that be make is super challenging to switch. No competing for 6 months, the kid needs to learn all new steps (not terribly difficult), and then there is usually some kind of ugly backlash from the former dancing teacher. For us it was administered in the form of financial punishment. They claimed I owed them money. I definitely didn't, but that's hard to prove. I wasn't allowed to officially switch to a new school until I essentially paid ransom to our prior school. Criminal. 

We left one school due to blatant favoritism and rude teachers who overcharged at every turn. The next school had a mean teacher. Silly me, I thought we could avoid him. Assumed my kids would never get to the level where he taught. I never intended this to be a 'forever' thing. Have I called myself silly yet? I am, you know, silly. Enter little tiny Curly. Mean-teach saw her dance at age 5 or 6 and dug his talons in. He resorted to verbal abuse to urge his dancers to improve. Yeah, no thanks, you sick bastard. In the book I am writing, ever so slowly, this school is known as the O'Bullys and the first school is the McMoneys. 

'Pay the piper or your kids will never dance again.' This is Irish Dancing's version of Tanya Harding hitting Nancy Kerrigan with a lead pipe so she couldn't skate. It's all going to be detailed in my upcoming book, aptly titled (I don't actually have a title but I joke about it):  THE SHIT BENEATH THE WIG. Details to follow. (I looked up 'aptly' to be sure I used it correctly. I might be slipping, but I'm trying to hang on to my dignity till the very end here in 'what's-that-word' land).

Anyway, at my two prior schools I hung with some really nice moms. I managed to steer clear of the crazies. Sure, I knew who they were but there were enough great moms at the school that the weirdos were easy to avoid. While keeping my distance (long before socially distant was a thing), I often stood wide-eyed with my chin on the floor at their antics that often included some serious kissing of teacher butts. I'm sorry you don't know what Mary Ann looks like, but whatever image you have of her, feel free to conjure up a teacher butt that she is happily kissing. Yep, she's one of 'those'. 

At our first school, one kid with a lunatic mom was a patient of Coach's. The mom was so devastated that her kid couldn't dance for a brief period because of her injured ankle/foot that she struggled to get out of bed in the morning. She'd ask Coach stuff like:  SHE CAN DANCE ONCE WE TRY THIS, RIGHT? He'd made the restrictions ridiculously clear and was downright baffled that she refused to accept the truth. IT NEEDS TIME TO HEAL. NO DANCING FOR X AMOUNT OF TIME.

To be clear the mom friends I've made at our current school are the lifelong type that make me grateful we switched schools. Getting to meet them also makes our dancing commute less awful. If it's OK with you though, I'll probably still complain about our constant driving to dancing loop. It's second nature. I mean good friends are awesome, but driving to a dancing studio 3 or 4 nights a week 25 minutes one way is a time suck that is tough to reconcile. I usually drop her off and then go back and get her a few hours later unless I have nearby errands to run, but on some nights Coach gets her because his clinic is sort of on the way there. Nothing like extending the man's 15 hour day with a drive to dancing.

If you really want to be in dance mode then point your toe and straighten your back.  I'm guessing you're all grateful for your life choices that don't include giving your kids Irish dancing lessons. Now that I've brought you up to speed on school dynamics and the presence of crazy-people, enter Lulu. Her nonsense is hard to stomach, but I think you'll find my approach to her entertaining. Go drink a green beer and get ready, Lulu's story in on the horizon. Tomorrow.  


Suz said...

First of all, I never notice your grammar mistakes. If I do, it's because I make them as well and I wouldn't judge you.

HOLD THE PHONE. Mary Ann is an Irish Dancing Mom too? YOU DID'NT SHARE THIS BEFORE.
I knew you did Irish dancing as a girl, but didn't remember you worked/taught in a school. This IS your life, isn't it.

I think when you get parents in any type of gathering that is about their kids, there are always some loons. We had it in softball. (Hey, Mom and Dad, your kid is NOT going to be a professional softball player, relax) And Linds was in dance for many years, so I know about the dance moms too.

I'm really enjoying the names of the past schools; you are so very clever.

Kari said...

I am with Suz, I didn't notice it either. No worries, friend. :)

I didn't know Mary Ann was a dancing mom either. As you can tell, Suz and I are really on the ball! I am laughing so hard right now.

So you're saying that my Riverdance experience isn't enough?? I see what you did there. Auntie Bitches is taking her dance to another driveway...hmph. ;)

Ernie said...

Suz - I'm grateful that my grammar mistakes are not terribly noticeable, but I am relieved that Delilah (who is not a commenter here, but discusses my blog in person often) texts me to tell me when I've messed up. Her isle vs aisle text came through with a screen shot that she took of the difference. The words of the text said 'SORRY . . . ' and I told her that I thought she was sending me the screen shot of a blog that she preferred over mine, thus the 'sorry'. She was really apologizing at being the bearer of bad grammar news. We had a good chuckle over that.

Yes, Mary Ann's daughter DID dance at the same time as my kids. Daughter is between Ed and Tank, so we didn't interact a heck of a lot . . . but still I saw plenty of her antics. Perhaps I need to write a post on when our dancing days crossed over with hers. Her daughter is in college now and retired.

My teaching at a school days were due to my ability to get very small people to do what they were told. I was the heavy. LINE UP. POINT YOUR TOE. I only handled the beginners. My Irish dancing background is not exactly what landed me the job is what I'm saying.

Yes, I find that nutty parents tend to surface in a crowd that isn't necessarily the crowd I would choose to spend time with. They sure keep things interesting.

The Irish dancing book was where I started, but then I left it behind to work on more of a memoir. I kept trying to tell both at once and I decided to separate them. When I do look back at the project about dancing that's on the back burner, I do think - AH, YES. THESE ARE SOME GOOD STORIED. And I do love the names. I gave the sisters that ran the McMoney school some good names too: PENNY AND NIC (SHORT FOR NICKEL). ;)

Ernie said...

Kari - I should've addressed Suz's comment to you too, since you two are on the same page today.

In my humble opinion, Riverdance ruined Irish dancing. It made the whole thing explode and become so crowded with people who do it for weird reasons (like WOW MY KID GETS TO WEAR A WIG) that it just isn't the same as it once was. Auntie Bitches can Riverdance on our driveway anytime though.

Bibliomama said...

Should I not have pointed out the affixation thing? I mean, I once said 'stewed hair' instead of hare on my blog and someone commented about it and I appreciated it, but if that's not how you roll that's cool. I read a lot and I notice things, but I'm not judging, we're bloggers not journalists.
I love how much Angus has gotten from baseball and I hated driving to baseball and workouts four or five times a week too.

Ernie said...

Ali- I do appreciate the pointers, so yes- please continue to tell me when I have messed up a word. I prefer to fix it rather than have a misspelled or misused word sit there for future readers to notice. I'm from the 'I need all the help I can get' camp.

I do think Curly has learned so much from dancing and built great friendships with people she wouldn't have met otherwise. The damage done to her feet . . . she has enormous bunions.