So, rumor has it… that every expectant Dad wants a little boy. As if we are all just Kings desperately seeking an Heir to our throne. Short of the porcelain pedestal holding court in the – ahem – “library”… is there a man out there, in today’s day and age, in possession of a royal recliner to re-gift?!? In this country?!?!? Yeah – I didn’t think so.
Sure, when you first begin entertaining the notion to do your part to keep this species going – most dudes will cop to wanting a Mini Me who will shadow their every move and share their passions for the sports, the superheroes, the stamp collecting… whatever hobby floats their boat.
But, I think I speak for all of us when I say, a little princess casts a very powerful spell. It’s an apt metaphor too. I think most Dads would agree, the second they meet their own Daddy’s Little Girl – there’s an indelible bond that seals – something that stretches way back to the ‘Round Table’ and likely beyond. It’s fitting that so many of these little ladies toss on the tiara and pledge allegiance to Princess Tiana… or Jasmine… OR Leia!!! (if you’re lucky) – the moment they can speak. They know, by looking deep into their Dad’s eyes – that a little further south, in the warmest well of their Dad’s heart – that guy wants nothing more than to be his little girl’s white knight; the valiant crusader who sweeps in at a moment’s notice, slays the dragon and sends his little girl off to chase down a well-deserved happily ever after. Of course, we know all too well that somewhere down the road, lurks a Prince Charming ready to sweep her off her feet. But that’s a chapter we Dads will deal with when we get to it… one best tackled with a heck-of-a-lot-of-time and a smidgen of liquid courage.
All this rambling preamble has a point.
A few weeks back, I got a call during the middle of the work day. Andi was at Aria’s dance class and noticed a sign-up sheet for the “Dad’s Dance” that is always a highlight of the annual recital. She wanted to know if I wanted in… knowing full well that if there’s something that will brighten my little girl’s day, then there is no manner of public spectacle I won’t subject myself to. Bring on the Chicken Suit!!!
This is Aria’s fourth year of Dance – and this year, she leap-frogged a class – moving into the Intermediate tier. She also took on two disciplines – Jazz and Ballet. Even at this young age of 7, you can see her talent starting to flourish. She LOVES the stage!!!
Her dance center is amazing and their annual expeditions doubly so.
I remember a few years back, at her first recital, I settled in not knowing what to expect other than the show was likely to stretch three hours – given the sheer number of events listed in the playbook. The Sally McDermott Dance Center teaches kids from Ages 2 through Senior Year in High School – and as you settle in and let these dances wash over you – you can actually spy an imagined future where if your little girl sticks with it – poise and technique soon meets and marries the joy of performance. I was stunned by how entertaining the whole recital was. Run with military precision – it just flew. The song choices were eclectic – always perfect matches to the movements – and I was in complete awe by the time it was all done… equally stunned by the fact I never once checked my watch.
For a guy with a creative bent – it sent my mind wandering – and I envisioned where Aria’s feet might lead her. Of course, I’m a realist. If she ever decided it wasn’t for her… we’d pull the plug. It’s her life, we’re just helping guide her in the early going. I firmly believe in exposing our kids to a variety of disciplines and letting them choose whatever calls to them. That being said – I don’t need them seeing that 600 lb pig that occasionally roots around this neighborhood. As long as I live, nobody under this roof will EVER be a Pig Farmer!!!
One of the highlights at the show comes near the end. As a little bit of levity – somewhere between 2 to 4 songs before the finale – the curtain closes and the announcer booms a dire warning. “Ladies and Gentleman – Abandon hope, all ye who enter here” or something along those lines. Nobody ever heeds his advice and before you know it – a Chorus Line of doting Dads takes to the stage in an elaborately choreographed number. The first year I attended, 20 guys took to the stage before a sea 750 deep with friends and family – and gave us their best Macho Man impression. Last year, it was a backyard BBQ-themed piece set to Cheeseburger in Paradise.
This year – MY YEAR – we were Born in the USA. 15 Dad’s became the Boss before another crowd 750 strong.
So when I got that call – of course I signed on. “Hell Yeah, I’ll do it!!!”. Because somewhere in front of those 750 clapping, braying, “Woo-Hooing” men, women and children – there was one little girl all aglow at seeing her Daddy share the same stage she graced a few moments before. The second Andi called me, I signed on the dotted line. In fact, having now completed my first routine – I wonder what took me so long.
When I initially met these other Dads, a mere three weeks ago at our first rehearsal (out of 3), I found some were brand new – some had done this a few years running – and one had his name tossed in the hat by twin daughters without his verbal consent. He – like me – held tight to the creed. We’re at the Princess’ bequest.
For three weeks, on Sunday evenings, we all convened at the Dance Center for an hour or two and went through the motions – learning a fairly complex 2 & 1/2 minute routine. The first rehearsal came on the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend – and most of us arrived having spent the afternoon at holiday cookouts. Somehow, all that BBQ and beer left a few brain cells in tact and we picked up the first 40% of the routine in record time. The second rehearsal came an hour after I left my 40th Birthday luncheon. I swore then that at the very least – I would be completely sober by the morning of the actual recital. That night, we learned the remaining 60% and had our routine in place. At the last rehearsal, we ran through it over and over – tweaking and making minor adjustments.And then - as they say…
“We have a show.”
And today we gave the audience one to remember!
It was over before we knew it. It’s amazing how fast two minutes flies when you’re having fun.
Almost as swiftly as time has flown since Aria first took the stage – to this very day – her fourth time prancing across it. As I look at my little girl; growing so fast and furious, I try foolishly to slow it all down. I freeze these moments – allowing my mental shutter to snap at light speed in a bid to work its magic and bring fluid motion to still life. A fool’s errand for sure – but if anything, it reminds me never to forget one single moment I’ve shared with my beautiful little girl. She and her big brother have colored my life in so many ways. I call myself a creative guy but no matter what wild tangents my mind runs down, I never could have seen nor imagined the depth and beauty these two have painted upon my canvas.
Nobody knows until it happens to them. That’s the thrill of life.
There’s a reason they schedule this recital on the day before Father’s Day.
I can’t imagine a better gift than laying my head down on the pillow – images of my beautiful daughter dancing and delighting and laughing up and down that stage and straight to my dreams… and then waking to that sweet little face ready to proclaim it a very “Happy Father’s Day” and sealing the deal with the biggest hug those little arms can muster.
I’ve received that gift year after year for the last four years and every single time, I look ahead in complete anticipation to what gifts may come.
I can’t wait to open it all over again.