Pages

April 11, 2022

Irish dancing news, and flash back videos

In the fall, something was up. I would attend Curly's school b-ball games, bring a thermos with her dinner, her dance bag, a change of clothes, and a READY TO BOLT MENTALITY. 

After her game, I'd review what I'd brought for her while jogging towards the door, DID I FORGET ANYTHING?

Curly:  AH, I'LL JUST GO HOME AND EAT AND GO TO DANCING LATE. I WANNA TAKE MY TIME.

Me:  (looks around the gym for signs of alien life, and a body snatching UFO) OH, OK. 

When I asked when she wanted a private lesson, she'd respond with:  I'M GOOD. 

Never feeling the need to do more, I shrugged it off. Also, private lessons aren't cheap. 

*her 'good' translated to good without one, but I was like I know you're good, but we usually do private lessons to get better, right?  My guess is that on average when leading up to a major competition, she'd take a private every week for about 5-7 weeks (so 4 days in the studio vs 3, if you're counting), give or take. This fall, she only did one. ONE!

*******

Mini asked me:  HAS CURLY SAID ANYTHING ABOUT DANCING?

Me:  NO, WHY? 

Mini:  SHE'LL TELL YOU WHEN SHE'S READY. 

Um, huh?

Driving to dancing one day after the boys had moved out and I was starting to focus on regular life stuff, I asked Curly what was up.

Curly:  IT JUST ISN'T FUN ANYMORE. I'M READY TO BE DONE. IT'S KIND OF A HASSLE (is it now? you're just figuring that out?). I WANNA PLAY MORE BASETBALL.

I almost called out:  JESUS, TAKE THE WHEEL - like literally, because who can drive when such exciting news is shared? 

Then there were tears. Not mine, silly. I managed to refrain from shedding my tears of joy. 

Poor, passionate, devoted, sweet Curly wept. She wept for her dancing teacher, Mary. She loves that woman. They have a special bond. Aside from dancing, Mary loves Curly-the-kid's sense of humor, great attitude, and extreme thoughtfulness. 

Me:  MARY WILL STILL LOVE YOU. I'LL GO WITH YOU WHEN YOU DECIDE TO TELL HER.

This conversation happened a month before championships. Not the time to announce anything. I thought she'd dance till the end of 8th grade. She clarified:  NOPE, I'M DONE THE MINUTE THE BIG COMPETITION IS OVER.

You could've blown me over with a leprechaun's fart. 

Then she took 3rd in the Midwest, after 9th in the nation back in AZ in July. There was no puking at the November competition. She was relaxed. I was relaxed. She danced beautifully, which she honestly does even when puking/nervous. 

3rd was a personal best. Would she keep going? Attend another world championship, since the two prior were cancelled? Before the competition, I worried that she'd flop and then she'd stick with it just to end on a high note. I gave her some space after the competition, I mean not immediately - I was busy hugging the heck out of her. 

A week or two later I asked if she still, ya know, wanted to walk away from this thing she's done since like age 3 or 4. She didn't even hesitate:  YEP. I'M DONE. 

Covid was ramping up. Christmas party cancelled. Classes bumped to zoom. Curly wanted the quitting conversation over with. 

********

Jan. 20th I texted Mary:  CAN WE STOP BY YOUR HOUSE (a hike) WITH YOUR CHRISTMAS GIFT? 

She said no, she was heading out of town. CAN WE CALL YOU THEN? She sensed something was up. 

Mary freaked:  I DON'T LIKE THE SOUND OF THIS. I LOVE YOUR KID TOO MUCH TO BE HEARTBROKEN. I LOST 2 PEOPLE IN TH LAST 2 DAYS TO COVID, THIS WILL BE WORSE. 

Remember the brat dancer, the one whose mother I hollered at? Well, Curly  told this girl that she might quit soon. Brat girl leaked it. A teacher from a 'sister' studio hollered to Curly after she'd come off stage with her big ass trophy:  YOU CAN'T QUIT NOW! 

Curly:  (insert nervous laugh) HUH? I'M NOT QUITTING. 

Curly has too much class to say:  THANKS EVERYBODY, DONE THOUGH. I felt it was  inappropriate for that teacher to bring it up. 

Me (1/20th):  CURLY'D LIKE TO TALK TO YOU. CAN YOU FACETIME?

The scene:  Mini sat off camera. I sat on the bed with Curly. When Mary popped up on screen, and said WHAT'S UP SWEETHEART? Curly started to talk, but had trouble with words. She whimpered. 

I'M DONE. IT JUST ISN'T FUN ANYMORE. 

I translate tear-talk, so I shared with Mary what Curly was trying to express. 

Watching my child so heartbroken, well of course I wept. Curly sobbed, Mini wiped away tears. Reg decided to be cute . Tried to barge in and be silly, being 'that' brother , not getting that no one had requested comic relief. Mini was too close to the door to let idiot-brother-nonsense through. NOPE, YOU'RE NOT COMING IN!

The worst part:  Mary wouldn't let her go. She poked and prodded. Acted angry. 

Now, come ON. She sensed it was coming. Curly hadn't done a single zoom class. Big mouth had leaked it. I know this was a blow, but this is a child. A child who is making a difficult decision, but it is ultimately her decision. 

********

Back up the bus:  on the drive to Joe's funeral with Drizella and Anastasia, Ann was surprised when I explained what a relief it was that Curly had quit. WHAT? I THOUGHT YOU WERE MAKING HER DANCE? 

*and in the movie version of my life, the frame freezes and I turn to speak to the camera, saying:  EXHIBIT A, THIS MORON DOESN'T KNOW ME AT ALL. SHE MAKES ASSUMPIONS AND DOESN'T BOTHER TO LEARN THE TRUTH. HOW ARE WE RELATED? 

********

Mary:  JUST COME ONCE A WEEK. DIAL IT DOWN. IT'S NOT LIKE BASKETBALL IS PLAYED ALL YEAR. 

Curly:  I PLAY ALL YEAR. 

Mary:  BUT YOU COULD WIN THE WHOLE THING NEXT YEAR. YOU'RE SO GOOD. 

It wasn't pretty. No way could Curly do something half ass. Dial it down? Have you met her? I told Mary before we hung up that I know this was hard and Curly  not being able to hug her was extra hard. Mary just kind of held her head in her hands, looking defeated. I nudged Curly and whispered, SAY GOOD-BYE.

Curly (whispered):  LOVE YOU, MARY. I'M SORRY. 

She facetimes her BFF after the challenging phone call. Her BFF said:  I MEAN, I KINDA GET WHY SHE'S UPSET. YOU'RE JUST SO LOVABLE.

******

I sent Mary a nice letter, saying how grateful we are for all that she is to Curly and how we want to stay in touch. I asked her to respect Curly's decision, because it wasn't easy. Mary texted me CURLY IS MY FAVORITE CHILD EVER. I NO LONGER WANT TO TEACH. I told her Curly would love to come help teach a class here and there. When classes were in person, I drove Curly to the studio and she gave Mary the gift. They hugged it out. She got back in the car sniffling, said she felt better. Mary told her that she'd always love her and that she isn't mad. Then we got ice cream. (obviously)

To fast forward to Curly - go to 2:56 pm. Curly's debut at a Tir Na Nog. This is for kids who had never had a lesson, so lots of fakers. Parents aren't allowed to film Irish dancing, but for this fun thing it was encouraged. 

video circa 2009, real names, real faces. Can you guess who Curly is? Cuteness factor - off the charts, me thinks. Lad isn't featured here. He played music - no dancing, but he isn't in this snippet. He is in earlier part, but he must've left the room. 

And that, my friends, closes a VERY lengthy chapter of our lives. I've had dancers for over about 15 years. No, I DO NOT MISS IT. Not at all. We had a good run. Lots of adventures. Enough to include in a book. Fingers crossed. 

Basketball is keeping us pretty busy, but the 'costumes' are cheap, there's no leg tanning, there are sometimes scholarships, and my kid can do what she wants with her beautiful hair, which usually means wear it up in a bun. 


26 comments:

Colleen said...

Wow what a tale. My daughter did irish dance for two years and we got out of it before the wigs started. It was all too much, and she didn't quite have the body type for it, plus she plays three sports. It's a huge sacrifice to be able to dance like Curly, and she did it so well, but I'm glad you all feel good about the decision. I'm sure dancing taught her lots of good life lessons and it was time well spent :)

ccr in MA said...

Oh, my goodness, Mary! I can understand her being disappointed, but don't put that pressure on a kid making a hard decision! I'm glad that things got smoothed out at the end. And yay for no more Irish dancing work for you!

Busy Bee Suz said...

"You could've blown me over with a leprechaun's fart." --I died!

I love that she was so adamant about what she wanted to do. I think making that decision was so hard, but she stuck to it. I was a bit mad at Mary for a minute there; making Curly feel bad, but she redeemed herself. :)

Congratulations-you survived Irish dancing with two girls.

LOVE LOVE LOVE the videos; they are so stinking adorable.

Jeannie Bruce said...

Do you think if Covid hadn't happened and changed everything that Curly would have kept dancing?

Suzanne said...

Wow, what a difficult, life-changing decision! How wonderful that she was so certain and that you were so supportive. I am annoyed at the teacher for giving her a hard time about it though! Talk about pouring salt on a wound!

Ally Bean said...

"IT'S KIND OF A HASSLE"

Made me laugh out loud with that statement. I'm glad that Curly knows what she wants and that Mary finally caught on. It'll be a brave new world for you to be free from Irish Dancing. However will you cope? 😉

joymariecooks said...

Congratulations to Curly for making a tough decision and sticking to it even in the face of some pretty awful sounding emotional manipulation from her teacher! THAT is an important skill for sure.

Pat Birnie said...

Good for Curly foe making a decision when she just wasn’t having fun anymore. Why do all that work if you aren’t getting joy out of it? She certainly is a natural - oh my goodness both of those videos are so darn cute!! What will you do with all your spare time!!??

Ernie said...

Colleen - Thank your lucky stars that you got out before you got in over your head. Curly has not looked back and has been satisfied with her decision. She made such great friends, and she really did learn a lot of tough life lessons.

Ernie said...

ccr - I was sad about the way the news was taken. I know how much she liked Curly, but Mini quit when high school started and I don't think this was a huge surprise based on her not attending classes and her goofball classmate who 'leaked' the info in advance. Mary works with kids, she should've been better equipped to handle this news.

Ernie said...

Suz - I'm glad you enjoyed my leprechaun fart comment. Ha. Cue the 'I will survive' music - because we did survive, at times it felt like barely. I did also have 3 boys who danced for YEARS, but the girls' involvement was always tougher. The dresses, wigs, and makeup alone - never mind the competition was always more challenging. I was blown away by her decision, but she knew.

Ernie said...

Jeannie - That is a good point. I think more importantly was the year or two prior the older woman who helped her teach had a falling out with Mary and left the studio. Another college age girl followed her. Without the older girls' presence in the studio, things were never quite the same. Sadly. I didn't care for the one older 'woman', she spoke to the young girls too much about her boyfriend relations and it was quite inappropriate. She was an excellent dancer though and her energy and vibrant personality was most likely missed by the younger crowd.

Ernie said...

Suzanne- It really was a tough decision, but apparently for Curly it was very clear. I was disappointed in how Mary handled the situation.

Ernie said...

Ally - I laughed out loud when she said that to me too. Goodness how I chased my tail for years to make that all happen. I always loved watching my kid dance. Sad that we weren't allowed to video them much. I cherish the few videos I have. Lots of memories.

Basketball - it's the new tail chasing, but at least it is minus wigs and makeup and pricey dresses.

Ernie said...

joymarie - Thank you. I agree, that was tough and she stuck with her decision and wasn't swayed. One thing I emphasized was that if she decided that she missed it, she could always go back to it. She has kept quite busy in 'retirement' and hasn't looked back. This was of course a relief to me.

Ernie said...

Pat - Exactly, recognizing that it was no longer fun was a good indication that it was time to be done. I admit, I was in a bit of a panic last night because I couldn't find the first video. That's what I should do with my spare time - organize my video clips and burn them to DVDs or flashdrives. What I am doing though . . . driving Reg and Curly to lots of travel practices and games. It is really busy, but I am enjoying it more than dancing.

Nicole MacPherson said...

WHOA SETTLE DOWN THERE, MARY. I mean, I get she was sad but come on - why make it so much harder on the kid? That said, I am proud of Curly for making such a big decision. Good for her to know when to quit - what's the point of putting in all the work, all the time, all the expense (I know how crazy expensive it is!) if she's not enjoying it. Good for her!

Kari Wagner Hoban said...

Aww, good for her knowing when to say WHEN. :)

Think of all the money you're saving. Maybe you can get your pool this summer??

Cheryl said...

You make the absolute cutest kids ever (okay, Coach had a hand in it too!)...and love their real names! Curly aged 2 was talented even without lessons! (Nothing cuter than seeing a tiny tot do a jig!)
I get how hard it must have been for her to make the decision to leave dance and you are an awesome mom with all your support.

Jenny in WV said...

The videos of a tiny Curly are adorable!

Change is hard, but it sounds like Curly is happy with her decision to leave dancing behind and pursue other interests. And I'm sure you will find things to fill all that free time that appeared in your schedule without lessons or competitions.

Beth Cotell said...

Oh my goodness! She's definitely a natural! I'm so glad she is happy with her decision and usnt having any doubts. I'm sorry her teacher didn't handle it with a little more grace. I guess she had visions of being the coach of a national/world champion and didn't want to let that dream die...

Ernie said...

Nicole- I share your sentiments. Who is the adult here? I get that it broke her heart, but remember you love this kid and she isn't doing this to hurt you. I never dreamt she would no longer enjoy it. I thought I was going to have to beg her to quit.

Ernie said...

Kari- Exactly. When it's over, it's over.
Reg's basketball is out of town almost every weekend, so I have yet to feel like I've gotten a raise. ;)

Ernie said...

Cheryl- Well thank you. You are too kind. I do think most of the kids look like Coach. Curly's hair is from my side. I can claim Mini, obviously.

I did feel like I handled the giving her space thing properly as I waited to see if she REALLY wanted to be done when she was at the top of her game. One benefit of being the youngest is that your folks aren't as clueless.

These videos always make me laugh. Really this is the first time since Curly was born that we don't have dancers in the house.

Ernie said...

Jenny- She was as cute as a bug. When she was 5, her teacher was blown away that he gave her a new step and she had it down perfectly by the next class. She was obsessed. We used to call upstairs and beg her to stop dancing in the bathroom. Just get your dang bath done.

Reg is on a pretty serious basketball travel team. Maeve's travel ball is pretty busy as well. Basketball is the new Irish dancing. But I prefer it that way.

Ernie said...

Beth - I'm thrilled thst she seems happy with her choice too. I agree, grace was definitely missing there. Mary's school is VERY small. You are probably right, Mary probably envisioned Curly going the distance, which would mean that her school was showcased front and center.