1. The idea of a recital is better than the reality.
Don’t get me wrong, it is beyond fantastic to watch your little tyke in the spotlight, wearing an enchanting costume and appearing more groomed that you’ve ever seen her (or him) in her (or his) short life.
But your joy will deflate into butt-numbing despair as troop after troop of pint-sized Pavlovas stumbles on to the stage for their turn.
Heading into Hour 3 of this extravaganza, you will die a little inside when yet another class assembles to perform an interpretive dance to the extended version of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”
2. These things are ridiculously expensive.
On top of the tuition you’ve paid all year, you will be expected to fork over for a costume, and, in some cases, a recital “fee” to cover the cost of a venue.
For my daughter’s show, those charges were $95 and $75 respectively. I paid less than $95 for my prom dress. Some of the older students had three or four different costumes, so I can only imagine what their parents had to pawn to cover the cost.
Add in professional photos and the obligatory bouquet of flowers and you will walk away from the theater feeling like you’ve been mugged.
3. The otherwise normal and lovely staff at you child’s dance school will turn into lunatics.
I can’t even imagined the pressure these people are under to put on the perfect show. In addition to the fact that parents can be over demanding a-holes, the whole event serves a marketing purpose for the school. Personally, I wouldn’t want the fate of my business to rest in the hands of a 3-year-old’s ability to execute the perfect jazz square to “Hakuna Matata,” but that’s just me.
The woman who runs my daughter’s school is lovely and kind and speaks to the children in a calm voice and makes each one feel special.
During the week of rehearsals leading up to the show, it was as if she ate guano for breakfast.
Her staff shrank in her presence. She yelled at a mother because her 4-year-old child’s ballet shoe lace had come undone. She screamed at the narrator, who I believe is her grandson.
The night before the big show she sent out an email at 10 p.m. that was so desperate you could almost smell the gin on her breath through the screen:
Please, please, please, send your child in with CLEAN tights — no rips, holes or stains.
Please make sure your child’s hair is slicked back OFF HER FACE. Stage makeup should be applied in advance.
PLEASE BE ON TIME.
The subject line was “Listen Up, You F—king Idiots: I’m Not Going to Have My Business Ruined Because Your Children Are Borderline Feral.”
Ok, I’m exaggerating, but you get the idea.
4. You will find yourself getting a little offended by something.
Maybe this is just me.
In my daughter’s show, several classes danced to parts of the overture from “The Sound of Music.” Because presumably we wouldn’t get that, even though it was printed in the program and introduced by the narrator, there was a segue number featuring a pack of teenage girls dressed as nuns pas de boureeing across the stage.
I’m not particularly religious, but when I saw this during dress rehearsal, I had to push my mouth shut. It just seemed a little irreverent, even though the nuns were executing lovely adagio moves and not break dancing. All I could wonder is, what’s next, a rabbi kick line? Imams executing the perfect splits?
In addition, at least one number in every dance recital will feature little girls looking really… unlittle girlish.
When a pack of 8-year-olds in harem pants starts twerking, you know that someone’s lost the plot.
5. The best place to be is backstage.
This year I volunteered to supervise my daughter’s class backstage. Was it stressful? A little. Boring? Not at all.
Me and the 14 six-year-olds in my care had a blast, even though it takes a lot to keep kids that age from rioting when they’re hyped up but have to wait two hours for four minutes on stage.
After rousing games of “Simon Says” and “I Spy,” they were edging towards “Lord of the Flies” territory until I remembered my son’s favorite Internet page featuring kid-friendly Christmas jokes.
Or so I thought.
“What’s Santa’s favorite sandwich?” I read from my phone.
“Peanut butter and jolly.”
“What does Tarzan sing at Christmas?”
They guffawed. Shouting to be heard, I called out:
“Who is Santa’s least friendly elf?”
Then I read the answer and my eyes went wide.
“Who?” they all asked.
“Um, Jeff. It’s Jeff,” I lied.
They pretended to get it. I switched off my phone. The real answer was “Gof—kyourself.” Seriously.
6. No matter how broke and exhausted you are by the time it’s over, you will look forward to the next one with great anticipation.
Because parents are suckers.