Yesterday marked my daughter's fourth dance recital. This year, she was a hip hop chick--fierce with attitude and dance moves. Yes, she watches all of her other dancers to know what she's doing--but her confidence on that stage far exceeds my own!
At the end, all of the dancers come to the stage--high school seniors and small preschoolers. They all dance together in the closing number. It's a great sight to see--and it allows me to imagine what our 6 year old will look like if she continues on this journey.
But before the closing number, there is always an announcement: "Thanks for your support this year. And, remember, backstage is small--please send only one person to come get your dancer. Females only."
When Sophia first started dancing, this message was also sent home before the recital. I quickly e-mailed our dance director, "My daughter has two dads; can their be an exception?" I vaguely remember a response that encouraged me to find a female to send down out of "safety of our dancers." You see, females, changing, prying male eyes. That all made sense. So, at the conclusion of each recital, I or my partner (while all the other females--assuming mothers--lined up to get their children) tried to find a dance teacher, a parent friend, or someone else to go get our child.
Last night was the same conundrum. My partner is not one to make waves. I said, "go wait in line to get Sophia."
His response, "I don't want to--females only. They're going to make me wait until the end to go down when everyone else has left."
I realized how ridiculous this rule was--at least for me. To judge my perceived future actions by my gender (...does this sound familiar, folks?). I couldn't imagine Sophia waiting patiently for her parent, watching all of the other moms coming to get their children and her being the last in the dressing room. Plus, at her age, she doesn't understand the females only rule. All she sees is other parents getting their children and not her parents. Plus, she becomes reminded that she is different--that she doesn't have a mom.
My friend Sarah offered to go backstage and get Sophia while I waited in the audience. She had done this during rehearsals where the same rule applied.
I got in line with the moms. I got some looks from the moms (I've decided that I'm going to make and wear a shirt next year, "I'm The Dance Mom."). As the moms got through the stage door, the dance employee quickly said, "Sorry Dad. Moms only."
"We are a two dad family. My daughter doesn't have a mom." (Yes, my daughter has a birth mom, and we value our relationship with her. But, as my friend Sarah said, I'm not going to drag her to a recital just for dance pickup).
"Um, ok. Be careful"
(In that moment, I'm thankful he said moms only--if he had said "Sorry Man, Females only" my response would have been much more jumbled.)
I looked at my friend, "Not today Satan, Not today."
I waited just outside the actual dressing room and Sarah got Sophia.
I helped her with her heavy dance bag up the stairs from the dressing rooms. I got to give her a hug and tell her how amazing her dance was.
She got to have her parent greet her like all of the other children.