8 Counts….

Been dreading this past weekend for little bit. Both Saturday and Sunday would be filled with tons of travel, early start times and late end times. Both daughters had competitions, my youngest with cheerleading and my oldest with dance. My weekend filled with makeup, hair spray, pizza, pizza and more pizza, tears, hugs, and lots and lots of “proud Dad” moments.

I haven’t been to many of my youngest daughter’s cheer competitions the last couple years. It’s really a her and Mom thing that I sometimes tag along to, but they do most of the travel and have their own traditions with that sport so it’s cool with me. My wife is the team mom for my daughter’s team, so she is actively involved, knows all the kids and coaches and I kind of just hang in the background, waiting for my daughter’steam to do their routine. I get crazy nervous to watch them, clammy hands, a sweat bead or two coming from my bald head, and just overall can’t relax until the routine is over. I do love to watch her compete on that stage though. For 2 ½ minutes I can’t breathe, constantly in awe of what her and her teammates can do.

My oldest daughter is the dancer. It’s a sport I understand a lot more just because I have about 25 years of experience watching it. This was one of her last competitions. While my youngest is just sort of in the middle of her career in cheer my oldest daughter is in her last year at her dance studio. She had to compete her Solo on Saturday and then her group dances on Sunday. While I don’t love the competition aspect of dancing, I do enjoy seeing other studios and see where my daughter fits in with all those other dancers. I’m a dumb blockhead, I need to see you score more goals than the other team to see who wins. Judging is so difficult for me to understand.

I love the supportive community that is dance. Hearing the buzz of “Quinn is up next, I cried when I watched his rehearsal” and seeing the flood of bodies with In Sync Center of the Arts jackets come in and fill out the back of the room I never had to guess when an In Sync student was about to perform. I NEVER had to look at the schedule, not once. Supportive kids showing all the adults in the room that scores really don’t matter. The kids screaming and cheering watching their friends dance in front of judges and a room full of strangers is really the best thing any of us will get to experience this day. Dance really strengthens your body, but I think it also really fills up that heart too. Those kids just don’t all happen to be really good kids. They were taught, either at home or where they spend most of their other time, in that dance studio. You hope it’s both. Sometimes you know it’s not. And I hope my Meghan would say it’s both, but I know it happens at her studio. She’s loved there and she loves it there. Nothing really more you can ask for as a dad.

As I mentioned Saturday was solo day.  The plan was to watch as many as we could get to and then leave after my Meghan did her solo so that we could rest up for another long day the next day.  I watched a bunch of kids dance as their friend screamed and cheered them on.  I stood in the back of the room because I knew that would be the best way to see my Meghan’s performance.  I got to hear all the kids come and go and listen to them and their friends encouraging each other.  I got to talk to my Meghan a bunch as she came in and out of the room to watch her friends.  We talked and at one point I saw her with her eyes closed facing the wall.  I tried to ask her what she was doing but I had to wait a minute or two.  I finally got her attention and she told me she was practicing her solo in her head and facing the wall because she had to practice facing the way she would be performing.  I’ve seen her dance approximately a billion times and on one of her last performances I got to learn something completely new about her.  What a damn gift it was to be standing back there.

My daughter disappeared and I saw the In Sync students enter the room and I knew it was time for her solo.  I was standing in the back of the room with a bunch of other Moms and Dads and other studio owners as she absolutely melted me into a million pieces.  She’s such a good storyteller on stage.  I know EXACTLY what she is saying when she performs.  After she finished a woman standing next to me turned to whoever she was with and said “JESUS CHRIST, that was AMAZING”.  Hey lady, I’m already dead and in a million pieces, why make me cry more?  

I write it in every blog, I know it, and I will continue until it stops being true, but my Meghan is a breathtaking dancer. She’s a storyteller, she’s not going to wow you with a flip or an aerial, but she doesn’t need any of those tricks. You can see it and feel it from her head to her tiny little feet. She’s able to be emotionally while still being completely in control.

After her performance I texted my youngest somewhere in the audience and told her I needed to stay to watch the rest of the solo’s and I wanted to stay for awards.  I just knew with this being one of her last times being to perform in a competition I wanted to be here for her.  If I’m being completely honest, I texted my wife right after the performance saying I had a feeling this was going to score well. I know nothing about scoring, like I said, I am a blockhead dumb dumb, but I just knew what I saw was not just special to this dancer’s dad. 

My Meghan rushed off stage and made her way to the back of the room again to make sure she was there to watch her other studio friends at In Sync.  I gave her a quick hug and told her how proud I was of her.  I asked her how she felt about it and she was smiling ear to ear.  She knew she did it the best she could.  She didn’t miss a step or a beat.  God, I loved hearing her say she was happy and proud of it.  She told me she didn’t have the nerves she normally had.  She mentioned she just didn’t feel a pressure to be anything other than just her.  She was all alone on that stage.  All eyes on her and she didn’t feel anything other than the joy of showing everyone just what she could do. 

The awards started and she got a specialty award from the judges just called “All the feels” and I thought to myself just how fitting that award was.  She had moved the judges just as she had moved her dad.  She ended up also getting 2nd place out of like 40 solos or something like that.  It was a very validating feeling to see her get rewarded like that.  She was the highest scoring girl to perform that day.  She deserved to be recognized as her performance was that good.  

But, I won’t miss the scoring or the judges or any of that.  Dancing is never about placements or scoring, it’s so much more than that.  I’ll forever be grateful for what dance has brought into my Meghan’s life, in so many ways.  It’s the way a tiny little blonde 4-year-old girl found herself, found her place, found her purpose, and found out how to be confident standing, well dancing, on her own two little feet.  

She’s took those two left feet she got from her dad and turned into such a beautiful dancer.

I’ll miss the hell out of days like this… 


I started this blog trying to write a quick story on our hectic, beautiful, poetic weekend and I’m 1300 words in and only at Saturday at like 9 pm.  Part 2 coming soon….  

And then I have to tell you about how this bald dude just may have scored free haircuts for life.

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