My son Cameron is the second of six kiddos and has been Irish dancing since he was six. He is now a 13 year old Preliminary Champion. He has learned so much from his T.C.R.G., and we love her choreography. However, there is one thing missing at his Irish dance school: boys! He is the only Champion-level boy. For years we have had to find our own way with costumes and navigating the world of feiseanna with a boy. Once Cameron moved up to Novice and Prizewinner, I started seeking out moms of the few other boys in his competitions, and I'd catch myself cheering for the boys we'd met. I found camaraderie with the other moms whose sons were in schools with multiple boy dancers. They had answers to questions such as ‘Where do you find pants that work for Irish dance?’, ‘Do boys use sock glue?’ and ‘Where are the cool vests coming from?”.
Eighteen months ago, my husband and I decided to get on top of our finances, and look for a lower cost of living. We also wanted a good Irish dance school with lots of boys. We centered our search on Charlotte, North Carolina and in May of 2010, Cameron visited a school with seven boys in the class! He was scared and excited, but was made to feel welcome right away. During shoe changes the guys teased, bumped each other, and acted goofy- as boys will. I talked to parents in the waiting room. I saw them again at the Charlotte Feis in June and the families cheered on Cameron. The boys from the class were really encouraging. In the end, my husband accepted a better job offer in Maryland and ironically, we found ourselves moving just across the Potomac, so we are still in the D.C. area. Cameron is at a different location with his same school, and now assists with classes, a boon to his confidence that keeps him involved. He also stays connected to the boys he's met at feises through e-mail and FaceBook. Being connected to the newer dancers at his school and to the boys he's met from other schools has helped him see his connection to the greater Irish dancing world.
After forming friendships with moms in North Carolina and moms from feiseanna and Oireachtas, we began connecting on FaceBook. As we got ready for the 2010 US Southern Region Oireachtas, our status messages became more about our Irish dancing boys. Somewhat stressful costume issues, travel arrangements, etc. became funny starts to conversations. I saw that another Southern Region mom was online and started a chat with her. I asked if she thought a Facebook group for moms of Irish dancing boys would be helpful, and she did. I searched and there was nothing like what I felt we needed. So on that day, Nov. 27th, 2010, I started a Facebook page. I chose the name Moms to Reel Boys because it fits who I wanted the group to be about-- the moms.
Our mission statement is: "May we all learn from each other and share what we know so that others can glean from our experiences!” May our boys benefit from the friendships we make with the other moms in this group and from knowing the other boys." The group has become all that I could hope for and more, with moms of Beginners up to World Champions and even one mom of a professional dancer; we have families from South Africa, Western and Eastern Canada, Ireland, and all over the U.S. too! We have photo albums, a database with who's who from where, and a notes section on costumes and feis packing.
Thank you to everyone on the Moms to Reel Boys FaceBook group page. I have been humbled by the spirit of a group that I needed for purely selfish reasons! You have made me and my son feel like a part of something so much greater. We welcome all moms or dads of Irish dancing boys, and invite you to become a part of this wonderful online community. Sincerely, Darlene White
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