The little girl in that picture brought me to tears this weekend with something She did.
That picture was taken at a very specific time and I’ll explain what that time was during the course of this article.
My Daughter tried doing Irish Dancing when She was 6. From the very first day she went to a “preview class” She was hooked. She’s now 11.
She’s a beautiful creature, this young Lady. Of course I’m Her father..and of course I would say something like that. But I can see it when I look into Her dark brown eyes. There is Light and lust for life there. It is not the same as I see in other children’s faces.
She has a hunger and a thirst for knowledge that I have not seen in other kids her age.
She has taught Herself so many things…on Her own. She reads like a computer, books by the hundreds.
She has learned to Play the Violin. She is learning Chinese. She asked for a oriental calligraphy set this Christmas so She can start drawing the Characters Properly. She is teaching Herself to program in a computer language called, “Ruby”. She is a moderator on two programming websites She frequents and She works as part of a debugging team on at least one of them, which basically means people post programs that they have written but that have bugs in them..She reads the programs, finds the errors and tells them how to fix it.
I don’t tell you these things to try and impress you. I tell you these things to tell you this: I have no skills whatsoever to help here with any of this….but continually…day by day, She says, “Daddy, look at what I did today.” and I stare back speechless and can only say, “Wow, Sweetheart…this is amazing. I am so proud of you.”
So i expect Her to be awesome and flawless with the things She considers, “Hobbies” that are completely out of my league of understanding. It’s the everyday “hard” things that we as parents worry about our kids being able to handle.
She is 11.
..and She comes from another Plane of Existence. She could easily be one of the Goddess in my Pantheon stories. After this weekend I’m believing She could be The Daughter of the Phoenix, Incarnate.
So, some info on Irish dancing. It is a hobby for some…but for most it’s actually like a sport. There are statewide, countrywide, WORLDWIDE championships all year around.
Sarah has decided to pursue the competitive aspect of it. She wants to be a world contender one day….and She will except NO refusal. She’s good at Irish dancing…but She’s had a hard time competing. It’s a tough arena.
You enter events throughout the day that can have as few as 2 or as many as 20 other competitors. They assemble in groups and dance together in groups of 3. It’s very crowded..very fast..and the judges sit at a table in front of the dance floor and grade you on your technique. So not only do you have to be good at dancing, you have to be good enough to draw the judges attention to you from the other people who may be dancing with you at the same time.
So we entered the competition and the day went as follows:
No one slept well the night before. No One.
We stayed at the hotel where the competition is being held.
Its weird sleeping in the same room with everyone. I snore. Kids giggle and won’t go to sleep….My wife wants to read Her kindle. The bed is too small…it’s too cold…it’s too hot. Someone in the hallway is yelling to someone else at the other end…you get the picture.
My wife had to help out with the Competition. Usually She’s the one who keeps track of the event schedules and gets Sarah to the stage where she needs to be at the time She needs to be there. Today, that fell to me.
But I’m a supervisor where I work. So I’ve got this!!
I had to help Her get dressed. which includes getting all of Her gear on. Dress, socks, shoes, competitor number, etc.
So She enters her first competition and right as She getting to the last step of Her dance..
Her left Shoe flies off.
They wear two types of Shoes. Hard Shoes and Soft Shoes. The hard shoe you would recognize if you’ve seen Riverdance..The soft shoe looks like a ballet slipper. It has intricate set of shoestrings that run back and across each other and need to be strung a certain way. Something went wrong and it came off.
So no chance at a placement in that event…and being in charge of everything…having tied the shoe in the first place…I felt like Shit.
Saturday 1 – Sarah 0
But I’m on the job. We regroup, I take off both shoes and retie them. With the strength of Hercules. By the god they would have to cut Her out of these shoes to get them off.
She gets lined up for Her next dance..and as I watch Her…her face doesn’t look right.
She’s not dancing very well either….when it’s over She comes back over to me. I say, “What’s wrong?” She smirks and shakes Her head, “Um….My Shoes are too tight now.”
Yay Me! overkill has maybe cost Her not placing in Her second event.
We check the scores…..Yep…..all I can do is apologize will she assures me, “It’s ok Dad.”
Saturday 2 – Sarah 0
But Hey! We’re done with the Soft Shoes…next is a hard shoe event and those shoes have a big strap and a buckle that keep them on. So…no problems there. We strap them on Her feet and She lines up for the dance.
Now, if you’ve seen Irish dancing, you know…and if you haven’t I’ll tell you. There are parts in the dance where they leap…VERY HIGH..You’re whole body is off the ground about 5 feet…all of it. You are in mid air and your feet are curled up under you so that when you land back on your feet you make a loud, BAM!!! it’s part of the dance.
So I’m watching from My seat…hoping that everything will be ok..
Then it wasn’t.
She went up…and when She came back down, I saw Her toe hit the floor at a weird angle and boom. She was down.
She came down hard on Her right thigh and side.
My butt instantly flew up out of My Chair.
But my brain took over. I can’t get to Her..and even if I could I wouldn’t make that move unless it looked like She was severely Hurt. But something was happening…
She got up.
She looked around for a second. Of course She was disoriented. How She didn’t knock the wind out of Her lungs, I don’t know…or maybe She did….
But She backed up slowly to get out of the other competitors way.
So I did get up…starting to make my way to the edge of the stage to meet Her
But when I looked to the side. She had moved to the back of the other two dancers..
waited for them to pass….and She continued.
I kept making my way…but I kept watching Her over My shoulder.
I’m sure I probably stepped on some feet along the way.
She finished, Bowed t0 the Judge and the Musician..and then walked around the back to the exit area.
When She came around. I was waiting with My arms out…
She ran and crashed into Me throwing Her arms around Me.
I remember when Her head was at my waist. She’s 11 and her head is just under My Chin now.
Of course She was crying and I squeezed Her tight and told Her, “It’s ok. Cry if you want. I know.” And she did…for about 5 min or so. Then she stood up…wiped Her nose on My shirt. We laughed about that.. and I walked back to the seating area with Her.
She told me, “I needed to get first in that one.”
(They have to qualify in certain dances to advance to the next competing level)
I told Her, “It’s ok, Baby. let’s just forget about today and we’ll try again tomorrow. But I am so proud you for finishing!”
She nodded and shrugged and went back to get ready for her next dance.
Saturday 3 – Sarah 0
When I made sure she was set up in the queue, I made my way to the room where they post the results.
She got 1st place. In the dance where She fell.
The judge awarded Her a half a point above what She scored (which gave Her first place) and the comment on the Sheet read: “Persistence!”
I waited for Her to finish the dance she was on. I met Her at the exit area and grabbed Her by the hand.
She protested saying, “DAD! Where are we going? I’ve got to get set up for the next event.”
“Not right now you don’t!” I said..and led her through the crowd and up to the score Sheet that was posted.
I pointed to it and watched Her face light up as I said, “I think that’s pretty damn impressive, don’t you?”
She clamped onto Me like a steel bear-trap and screamed into My shoulder.
I just kept telling Her how proud I was of Her.
Neither one of us paid attention to how the other events turned out that day until the competition was over.
We all hope our kids will stand their ground and not back down from hardship.
Meet it face to face and push forward!
I couldn’t have asked for a better gift than seeing that happen that day.
She’s got a Brave Heart…and that’s all I can ever want from My kids.
The picture at the top was Her between the dance when She fell and before the next one.
You can see the determination in Her face….
And this little guy, deserves an Honorable mention. If you have one, or like me, if you’ve ever been one…it is damn hard for an 8 year old boy to sit still for hours on end…My little Buddy handled it well…and managed to snag my shirt in the process because it was damn cold in there. 🙂