Flip yer wig: confessions of an Irish dance mom
Report from inside a national champsionships Irish competition
While the rest of the sane world was enjoying the birthday of our fine country on July 4th, I was trapped with a gaggle of crazy Irish dance moms at the North American Dance National Championships in Chicago.
There is duct taping, wig-throwing, shouting and nervous sweat in abundance right before the competition. Amidst the early morning chaos of readying our preteen and teenage daughters for their moment in the spotlight, I begin to channel some strange robotic, perfect, zombie inner-mother.
I started speaking in a tone that can only be described as Mary Poppins heavily medicated on Zoloft. “Okay Kathryn, time to get ready,” I say in this bizarre Zen sing-song voice.
She gets her bag of sundries out -- a wig (similar to a dust mop I use on my wood floors), a bag load of various sized hair pins, a brush and then… panic.
“I don’t have the DONUT?!?!”
Now those of you not in the dance world might just assume that she woke up really hungry or that I have instilled really bad eating habits in my teenage daughter, but neither would be true. A donut is used under the wig to provide height.
“Okay,” I say in my sing-songy happy voice. “No worries, we’ll improvise.”
This is usually done with a sock, but I didn’t pack any socks. So to avoid any undo stress I calmly rummage through the suitcase. Pulling out a thong, I say in my Zoloft infused Mary Poppins voice, “Yes, yes this will do quite nicely,” all the while thinking, OMG who the hell are you?
I begin to ready her head for wig placement, careful not to jab too hard or pull too tightly. Constantly checking on her nerves, providing encouraging words and from her… nothing.
No expression. No conversation. NOTHING.
I start to get a little concerned. I don’t know why she’s like this at every competition, but it starts to put a little stress in my voice.
And finally she speaks. “The girls are waiting for us, we’re late!”
“Okay, it’s breakfast, tell them to walk over and we’ll meet them there,” said I.
Another text and another, “We’re late they’re waiting for us.” And another, “Okay, we are walking out the door, tell them to start walking we’ll meet them there,” I said with a now noticeable Jersey City accent.
And then the rapid fire text to her phone and now mine. The Mary Poppins in me ducked for cover and let me out.
“IT’S BREAKFAST!!! WE DON’T HAVE TO EAT TOGETHER TO DANCE TOGETHER. THE EXACT SAME TEXT FROM EVERY PERSON IS NOT GOING TO MAKE US GET THERE ANY SOONER. TELL THEM TO WALK OVER AND WE WILL MEET THEM THERE. NOW CALM DOWN AND KNOCK OFF THE FEISTUDE!!”
With a chime noting the arrival of the elevator Zoloft Mary Poppins returned and said, “Now, let’s get to breakfast, shall we?”
Breakfast was great. No one ate.
Competition time arrives. Headbands, make-up check, stretching, run throughs, grouchy Sheraton staff (you know who you were).
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