Month: February 2015

The Making Of An Adequate Dance Dad, Part 1

 

dance

A few months ago, there was a big milestone at our house – we signed J up for her first dance class! Introductory level for wee ones, held every Saturday morning.  My initial reaction was that this was a fantastic idea. It would be some nice mother-daughter bonding time between K and J! Tutus and jazz hands and ballerinas? That stuff is way too foreign to me. I’d limit my involvement to just going to the recitals and taking some pictures.

Sit back and enjoy the show, right?

Yeah, not so much.

Like most things parenting-related, I was wrong.

Well, firstly, I wasn’t actually allowed by the dance studio to take pictures at the recital. Secondly, there was a time conflict. B also had basketball Saturday mornings. As a result,  one parent had to take him there, while the other had to take J to her class. Shockingly, no one else thought that it would be best if I took B to hoops all of the time.  It was decided that we’d take turns each week, taking the kids to their activities.

So……..

that meant…………..

I would now have to be………..

A DANCE DAD!

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Dun dun dunnnnnnnn!!!

Now, in all honesty, the first few weeks didn’t go too badly. I say this beause K took J, not me. Luckily, however,  J did take a liking to the class immediately. The objective set by the instructors was to let the parents in the dance room for a couple of weeks, to get the kids used to the class. Eventually, the parents would not be allowed in the room, and instead would have to watch in the waiting area,  through a window.  J, bless her heart, was cool going solo in the room after about two weeks. And luckily for me, that meant that I would never have to be the “last parent standing”. You know, that parent who has the kid that is the only one left who freaks out when their mommy or daddy try to leave the room. The parent then has to spend the whole class prancing along to Let it Go with the other toddlers, while the dance moms laugh and snicker at them from behind the window.

Awww, dance moms.

Not gonna lie, hanging out with them is what had me shook the most, initially. I had seen parts of the television show ‘Dance Moms’. Since reality TV is totally like real life, I assumed that there would be lots of yelling, gossiping and mean chick cliques, none of which bode well for yours truly.

Of course, this wasn’t the case at all, and everyone there, from the parents to the instructors, is pretty chill. As one of the only solo dance dads among the dance moms each week, I did feel that I had to formulate a strategy, though, to fit in. Social awkwardness ain’t no joke.  I went about my strategizing  by observing the other guys that would come to the studio. For example:

– Some used the ‘drop and go’ technique. They dropped their kid off, and came back an hour later, when the class was done. Even though it’s 9:00 AM, I imagine that they’re going for beers. Or not. I have no clue. This wouldn’t work for me, anyway, as J was a bit too young (not quite three years old) to be left by herself, I think.

– Some used the ‘sit and stay’ technique. The waiting area has lots of chairs. As such, some guys preferred to grab a seat and spend some quality time on their phones. I did briefly employ this tactic during the first week that I took J. However, driving home after, when I asked her how she did, she recapped some stuff, but then ended it by saying, sadly, “you missed it.”  I swear, as if to really make sure the mood hit home, Dance With My Father by Luther Vandross came on the radio, too. From then on, no more sit and stay. I try to watch as much as possible, through the window. Now, when J does something that she’s really proud of, like throw a scarf in the air and catch it, she’ll look over to me, grinning, like ‘Yo, did you just see that?!’ I’ll grin back to her like ‘Darn right, I saw that! Do ya thang, lil girl!’

– Side note: one guy came to a class a couple of weeks ago, and spent the hour watching videos on his phone, with the volume cranked up. From what I heard, the videos were all of people talking to each other in Japanese, over random hip hop instrumentals. 50 Cent probably never thought the beat to Disco Inferno would end up there. Haha, I bet if you  found this guy in da club, bottle full of bub, you’d have 21 QUESTIONS for him,  amirite, 50 Cent?

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Shut up, Mike.

 

Sorry, Fiddy.

Anyway, the man had a blast watching these videos, laughing uproariously, completely oblivious to the dirty looks everyone was giving him. I now aspire to one day have that guy’s ‘I Don’t Give a F**k’ level.

– Some made the most of their time by chatting up the moms. While this is a great way to kill time/make friends if you’re a talkative individual, I, unfortunately, am not. Also, I did observe one man once say something to a lady (I didn’t hear what), which led to nervous laughter by her, a step back, and awkward silence.

Yikes.

Forget that option. No need to  make someone else as uncomfortable as me. You never know who’s packing pepper spray nowadays, too.

Nonetheless, from these observations,  I was able to find a groove. I’m that dude, chillin’ at the window, watching the toddlers work it.  Mainly keeping to myself.

It’s all good, though, for real.

See, the end of the class is what makes it all worthwhile. That’s when the instructors wave the parents into the room. We all head in, to sit along the walls, and watch whatever routines the kids learned that day. When J sees me, she always cracks a big smile and runs over, to excitedly tell me something. Yo, even I know that these are the moments that are to be appreciated.  In a few years, she won’t always be happy to see me, or even care that I’m there watching her.  I get that. Until then, it’s nice to feel the love.

The routines that they do are straight jokes, too. Half the time, J is an active participant, bustin’ a move; other times, she just stands there picking her nose, glaring at the parents. Either way, it’s always entertaining, just sitting back and enjoying the show (hey, I was right about that!).

That’s all I got for now. Keep an eye out for the epic conclusion to this two part series. In that part, my journey to becoming an adequate dance dad is completed, but along the way there are dragons, Mortal Kombat-style death fights and drag races.

Or you know, there’s none of that, and I just recap some more stuff that happens at introductory dance classes.

Later.

 

 

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J, rocking her dance gear.

 

 

 

 

The Michael Jackson Experience

smooth

Not too long ago, my kids discovered Michael Jackson. In typical fashion, once they discover something that they enjoy, they can’t get enough of it. Until, of course, they get bored, and quickly move on to something else.  Regardless, at this present time, B and J are constantly talking about MJ this and MJ that.

However, if I can keep it 100 with ya (word to Larry Wilmore!), I was a little conflicted on this newfound interest. I mean, while you may or may not be a fan of Michael Jackson’s music (count me squarely in the ‘mays’), there’s no arguing that he owned it. He was the King of Pop, for real.

Aaaaaaand then there are the accusations and rumours about his personal life.

Look, I don’t know what’s true or what’s not. I’m not here to pass judgement. I’ve heard stuff, like you’ve heard stuff.  Sure, a lot of it is unfounded/unsubstantiated, but it’s still out there.

On the one hand, as a parent, yeah, it did make me a bit uncomfortable that they’ve chosen this guy to put on the ol’ pedestal.

Yet, on the other hand………

Go back in time in your mind, for a minute. Try to remember yourself at B and J’s ages (five and almost three years old).  You’re all naively innocent. That line between reality and fantasy is blurred. From this perspective, Michael Jackson is DA MAN, son! He’s a borderline superhero! Think about it:

  •  He started his career when he was young. Small children are fans of other talented small children. It’s all about the emulation. B keeps going on about being a singer/dancer, while coming up with names for dance moves that he hasn’t even made up yet. Forget the Moonwalk, watch out for  ‘The Knee-Bender’.
  •  Not only was Jacko talented, but his brothers and sisters were, too. B is fascinated with the Jackson 5. He calls them a team (Jermaine, Randy, Michael and Chico, in his words. I know that it’s not quite five, and that the names aren’t all correct. Whatever. It’s close enough). He asks me stuff like who’s the oldest, who’s the second tallest, who’s the toughest etc. Pretty sure that he thinks that, after they were done making music, they used their instruments as weapons to go beat up the Foot Clan or something, like they were the Ninja Turtles.
  • Similar to the Ninja Turtles, the Jackson 5 even had their own freakin’ cartoon. Not surprisingly, lil Mikey was the breakout star, and got into all kinds of animated hilarity.
  • Young MJ’s music is fun. It appeals to all ages. Songs like “ABC” and “I Want You Back” are great to bust a child-sized groove to.  “I’ll Be There” has a nice message to it, too. “Ben” is mad weird, though, no doubt. A love song to a rat? WTF. When B and J first heard “Ben”, I had to do some verbal tap-dancing when they asked me about it:

J: Who’s Ben?

Me: Michael’s friend. He went away. This song is about how much he misses him.

B: Where did Ben go?

Me: Away.

B: To a different city?

Me: Sure.

B: What city?

Me: Uhh…Gary, Indiana.

B: Will he ever see Ben again?

M: Sure.

B: He can come over to his house and play?

Me: Yeah?

And that was it.

The moral of “Ben”? MJ now has a long distance buddy! How dope is that?!

  •  Michael Jackson has magic powers. As seen in the “Billie Jean” video,  the ground lights up when he walks. Also, he apparently can make himself invisible, so villains can’t catch him. To a child, this is an important trait.
  • “Thriller”!  I saw the video for the first time when I was like six years old. It scared the heck out of me, and I didn’t watch it again for 14 years. So, of course, B and J think it’s the greatest thing ever. Michael Jackson’s a werewolf zombie with dancing zombie friends? He likes to play tricks on his girlfriend? AND he likes to watch movies of himself while eating popcorn? It really is the best video of all time! And yes, B thinks he’s braver than me, since he watches “Thriller” and doesn’t get scared.
  • What do  GI Joe, Barbie and the Avengers have in common with  Michael Jackson? Why, they’re all available as toys, of course!
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My old action figure.

 

 

 

  •  He’s bad, but not bad.  Kids tend to root for nice people. More often than not, MJ portrays himself as a hero. Side note: trying to explain the song/video “Bad” to B was worse than Abbott explaining who’s on first to Costello:

B: Is Michael Jackson bad?

Me: No.

B: But he says ‘I’m bad! I’m bad!’

M: Yes. Well, no. It’s a different bad.

B: Is that guy bad (pointing to Wesley Snipes)?

M: No. Well, yes, he’s not being nice.

B: Are those guys Michael Jackson’s friends? Who’s tougher? Who’s badder?

Me: I don’t think that they fight. They just dance. Badder isn’t a word.

B: Are they bad dancers?

M: Yes….no?

Anyway, confusing 1980s slang aside, MJ comes across as a straight up badass. More kid bonus points for that.

  • In the “Black or White” video, he’s homies with MacCauley Culkin A.K.A. Kevin from Home Alone. I’ve mentioned before that B thinks Kevin is  basically the greatest child who ever lived.  The fact that Michael Jackson actually hangs out with him?

 

Oh. My Gosh.

Oh. My. Gosh.

  •  Speaking of black or white, Michael Jackson changes colour!  J has this doll that changes from pink to purple when it gets wet. Jacko’s kinda like a real life version of that, going from light to dark, depending on what we’re watching on Youtube. B and J aren’t that concerned about the skin thing (it don’t matter if he’s black or white); it’s just another characteristic that they seem to think is cool.

Anyway, you get the idea. Through the eyes of babes, he’s all that and bag of chips with a can of Pepsi. I haven’t even mentioned to them that he had a pet chimp! And lived at an amusement park! And that he’s, uh, not alive anymore. #kidsmindsblown

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At some point, they’re going to see or hear something about their new hero, and they’re going to be disappointed.  I’ve explained that MJ is an entertainer, and that his videos are all make believe; he chooses to come across in a certain way to us. Thing is, though, B grasps this concept, yet he still pretends that he actually is what he sees on TV. I guess that’s one of the benefits of being a child. You can believe whatever you want to, and who can fault you for it? If my children have no issue with the idea of a heavyset dude with magic reindeer delivering presents, or a giant rabbit hiding chocolate eggs, or a fairy flying around buying up teeth, then can I really blame them for liking a singing, dancing, magical, butt-kicking, colour-changing werewolf zombie?

Eventually, the truth will come out about all of those characters that I’ve led my kids on about.  No need to blow up their spots now, however.

Besides, I’m sure they’ll be onto someone else soon enough, anyway. Hopefully whoever it is, is less controversial.

Britney Spears, maybe?

 

 

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