Tuesday, January 27, 2015

So I will dance with Cinderella....

Today is a sort of say day in the Ayers household.  Today is the day that Brooke is shipping out the Irish dancing dresses that the girls had worn for their competition.  Irish dancing was an activity that I really loved the girls participating in.  It was a rare sport that three of the girls could do together.  The activity gave us an excuse to travel together to competitions in Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Tennessee.  It gave our parents excuses to travel to see all of us, to be together.  Irish dancing gave my girls a connection to a part of their heritage that I believe is very important.  Their great grandmother (God rest her sainted Irish soul) would have loved to see them Irish dance, just as she always made Burbon square dance.  My parents used to cook Irish food for my class in grade school, I studied abroad in Ireland during college, and Brooke and I spent our honeymoon in the land where the term originated (so they claim), Ireland.  Irish history has always been big part of my life.

So you can imagine that the move up north was softened a bit when we realized the girls had plenty of opportunities to Irish dance. Opportunities that were much more scarce in Lexington.  Very quickly after our move up here we found a good dance school to affiliate with.  Before long, we were marching in parades, racking up medals, and buying very expensive dance dresses.

Then something changed.  Irish dancing is not something you can just fall out of bed and do.  The girls were moving up in the ranks which required more practice.  For the first time in their lives, they were forced to practice something every day.  I used the term forced very specifically.  What was once fun, turned into a pain for Brooke to get them to do.  The girls would go through the motions every day, just to get the practice done.

This past September we had a competition in Nashville.  We knew this would be a good opportunity for the girls to medal and move up a rank.  The farther south you go, the weaker the competition is.  Of all the competitions the girls had done, in all of the games they have played, they never looked as disinterested as they did in Nashville.  It was horribly disappointing/embarrassing for Brooke and I.  Not because they didn't do well, but because we knew they did not try their best.  All four grandparents were there to watch them "half ass" it.  The car ride home was not a pleasant one for the girls.  Poor Hadley had nothing to do with it, yet she had to sit there and take it too.  We were....teaching...the girls a lesson about life. No matter what, you always give your best effort.  We talked about the effort it took for all of us to get down there, the money it took, the time, etc. etc. for them to sleep walk through their performance.  We were at a crossroads with Irish dancing.

There were a few more practices and private lessons after that.  Brooke refused to make them practice on their own, so as you can imagine, the daily practices stopped.  It was time to move on. We couldn't make them do something they did not want to do.  It was a tough moment for me for a lot of reasons. I wasn't sure how I felt about it really.  I felt like they were giving up, something I didn't want to let them do.  In the end, if my first desire is for them is to be happy, I had to let it go.  Did I want them to Irish dance for me, or for them?

I remember the time when I told my father that I wanted to give up playing baseball (a sport I was good at) to play soccer (a sport I ended up being good at).  I think it sort of broke his heart.  Baseball was something that he did with his father and it made him happy to pitch to me.  I also remember how with relative ease he let me do what made me happy.  He even went to every game, yelling "ALRIGHT BOOMER STICK SOMEBODY!" at my first game.  In the end, it all worked out.  Eventually, I would have had to stop playing baseball and soccer to play two sports I really loved, football and track.  I was good enough in football, I was best at running.  My experiments into baseball and soccer just helped me develop those skills that I would need playing other sports later on.  Dad was always one of my first coaches in sports, turns out he was coaching me about life lessons, too.  Lessons I wouldn't fully learn until I had to let my girls choose which sports they wanted to play. Very similar to the choice I had to make back in the day.  Dad had set the table for me to learn, the girls did the rest.

So, tonight Brooke is bagging up those expensive Irish dancing dresses that I bought for them way back when the girls decided they wanted to be world famous Irish dancers. They are being sold to someone else chasing the feet of flames dream. Tomorrow I will pay for cheer leading outfits or gymnastic class time.  Either way, its all part of the journey.  I am thankful for the dancing memories they gave me, but more appreciative for the lessons they taught me along the way.

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