I went to the Oireachtas meeting for the under-10s and under-8s tonight. The Oireachtas, which means "regional" in Irish, is the regional competition for Irish dance.
I took home a form to sign and have Sophia sign and then bring back tomorrow for class.
There is no guarantee that Sophia will be on the team that will take her to oireachtas. Considering the number of parents sitting in the room, I say she has fair to middling odds. Not everyone will say yes. And she's already on the team blah blah blah. Anyway. We'll find out soon enough I suppose.
Had a long talk with Sophia, Parental Talk #401, "What is Childhood For?" We both decided that childhood is not for the monoculture of any given activity or sport. I gently pointed out that she does not take the time to practice or have the natural born talent required to glide into stiffer levels of competition. Neither of us, or Mike or anyone, wants to become one of those families that travels all over the midwest in the hopes of a placement that will move our daughter up another smidge closer to, what?
Mike says we were bait-and-switched long ago when Sophia got good enough that the Thursday night classes in South City weren't high-powered enough and we started traveling out to the distant county location. If she were unhappy, I might look to jump ship to another, closer, school. But she's not unhappy. She's also not, if I may be frank, very good. She is good--and Irish dance has done amazing things for her brain and her calves (mm, calves brains...I know someone out there was thinking it). Being yelled at for 2 hours at a stretch a few nights a week for 4 years does something. On your toes, cross your legs, feet out--such that Sophia walked into a cheerleading camp this summer and mopped the floor with the other participants.
That was actually when she started her own conversations with me. That maybe there were other fun active things she could do without succumbing to parochial school sponsored basketball teams and their practices and neverending schedules. She brought up that maybe we should hold off on the solo dress. That maybe she wouldn't continue much longer.
Then I bring home that green form and, well, she didn't change her mind, but she tweaked it a bit. She would stick with Irish dance. She just wouldn't keep up with the higher-level competition kind of stuff. She'd drop ceili team. Have Irish dance be "one of the things I do" instead of the only thing.
I also got honest with her: we spend a lot of money on Irish dance. And in comparison, we spend almost nothing on tae kwon do for Maeve. Plus there's a younger brother to consider. She is beginning to become aware of the fact that we are not made of money. She was stunned by how much Irish dance costs.
So we made a plan. We would say yes to the Oireachtas this year, and only this year. If she made the team, we would go. She would also start fencing with her dad on Thursday nights. After the Oireachtas, she would stay on ceili through St. Pat's season and then once the school year ended, go down to just the one class a week. Spend 6th grade trying that on. Go to the St. Louis feiseanna (3-5 depending on the year), but not travel.
And then I predict she'll be done--she'll be involved in other things and busy enough that we'll stop altogether before her 7th grade year.
I won't miss it.
I'm happy to take her to Chicago and do this thing with her for the experience of it. The hotel, of course, is already full and so I'm looking at a Hilton nearby instead with a pool for the younger kids and Mike to stay entertained (and away from the crazy).
I am not a stage mom and she's not a competitive kid (one of my favorite little Sophia quotes: "I don't like to play winning games"). The buck kind of stops here. She wants to try out the trapeze class with Maeve (that will happen post-Oireachtas at this point). She wants to fence. She is keenly interested in cheerleading all of a sudden, which makes me happy, surprisingly. She wants to build a treehouse and go to the paddleboats in Forest Park and do art projects. What's a childhood for?
I looked around the room this evening, and I saw a lot of childhoods that are for Irish dance. I don't want that, and she doesn't want that. But there is some separation anxiety, some grieving, of sorts, in quitting an activity. So we're not quitting. We're going out with a bang and then easing out of the pool or some other mixed metaphor of your choice.