Teri was five. As younger siblings do, she looked up to her older sister, the dancer, in a big way. Sara was four years older and excelling in ballet, tap, and jazz.
So we enrolled Teri in the same dance school, and she really seemed to enjoy the lessons and her new friends. She was now, of course, a dancer, like her sister. Teri very much looked forward to the climax of her first dance season, the year-end dance recital this school put on.
If you've ever been a dance parent, you realize that the obligation is quite large. Aside from the weekly lessons, scheduled on different days in our case, there is the extra investment of time and money preparing for the 'big event'—extra lessons and rehearsals, fittings for the completely different head-to-toe costumes required for each dance number, and a parents meeting for each dancer to make sure everyone was on the same stage come recital night. Baseball parents have it easy!
As fate would have it, Teri had surgery to lengthen her heel cord a few weeks prior to her dancing debut. But that didn't stop her from lugging around the heavy cast trying keep up with the other performers. That's my girl!
The big night arrives, and in a flurry of hurried activity, we deliver our girls backstage complete with special hair do's, and a full coat of stage war paint, and we take our seats in the auditorium.
The place darkens, the curtain rises, and the show begins with the performances of some of the advanced students. They beam with pride showing off the stuff they had worked so hard on all year long. Two of Sara's dances were slated and as always, she didn't miss a step.
Then, to the “Ahhhh, aren't they cute” of the packed house, the curtain lifts to reveal Teri's class of little tykes all in a line looking nervously around under the bright lights. At one end of the line was Teri, with her bulky cast in plain view and her hands tucked in the white muff in the starting position for “The Muff Dance.”
The moment arrived and the music started. Teri didn't. She just stood there, still as a statue, while her friends slipped into their well-rehearsed routine. Was she nervous? Did she forget her steps? Did her foot hurt?
Then, as if on cue, she gracefully took her left hand out of the muff and raised it to her face, inserted her index finger into her nostril and with the precision of a Texas oil driller, began a full-scale exploration of the orifice that seemingly wouldn't conclude until she hit pay dirt! That's my girl!
Needless to say, the place erupted into hysterical laughter that overrode the loud music. I began to slither down in my seat trying not to be among the majority who were splitting a gut at the spectacle, and add to the embarrassment that Teri must have been beginning to feel.
Suddenly, as if it finally registered that the non-relenting roar of laughter was directed at her, she ran off the stage. I hustled out of the theatre to the backstage area in anticipation of having to do some creative parenting and intense consolation.
With a lot of tear drying and a little coaxing I managed to convince my little dancer to “get on with the show,” where she performed the rest of her numbers, without using her finger.
The next year, she played tee ball.