Now let me be clear, my wife and I are protective over our family time. We have always believed that the pace of our family life can set the tone for our relationships with one another. We swore that we would not become the parents that run around town every night from soccer practice to a baseball game, from swim lessons to gymnastics, from birthday parties to dance recitals.
Enter three children. Now, in our household, children don’t get a vote. The Ryerson home is not a democracy. Mommy and Daddy run a tight ship, a monarchy you might say. But for some reason, our children are really strong lobbyists. So when they really want to do something, Mommy and Daddy can be persuaded. Our daughter wanted to dance ... and nobody puts baby in the corner (not so subtle ’80s movie nod).
We were excited to have her join what we have been told is an outstanding dance studio in town. Now I qualify that with “what we have been told,” because quite honestly, I wouldn’t know the difference between a good studio and the Bad News Bears Dance Studio. That being said, the people there were nice, the teachers were patient, and the facilities were outstanding.
Quickly, our daughter fell in love with dance. She showed us her routine at home on a frequent basis. At times I questioned the teaching of the studio, as what my daughter was showing me seemed more like a fish flopping around out of water, but she loved it and she was cute in her dance costume.
Then, the time arrived — her big premier was upon us. The entire family had come to town to watch her in her debut dance performance. We drove her to the arena where the performance would be held and walked her to the dressing rooms. She was dressed up like a star with wings and a tutu, hair in a bun, the biggest smile on the planet and all the confidence of a seasoned professional. We gave her hugs and kisses and told her how proud we were and then I gave her the old show business saying, “Break a leg!” To which she froze.
“What!?” she asked.
“Uh, break a leg, it means good luck in the dance world,” I responded.
She walked away a little confused as to why her daddy would tell her to break her leg.
My son just looked at me, shrugged and said, “That wasn’t very nice.”
I weakly tried to explain, “No, it is a good thing. You know, ‘Good luck,’ it is a tradition ... never mind. Good luck, honey!”
Despite my threat of bodily harm, she and her dance partners gave the best 90-second dance performance in a three hour recital I’ve ever seen. The older dancers were amazing as Peter, Tinker Bell, and the entire cast moved with beauty and grace.
After the show, she was all smiles. “Did you see me dance, Daddy?”
“Yes baby, I am so proud,” I said with tears in my eyes, my heart bursting with pride.
To which she responded, “And I didn’t even break my leg.”
(Matt has a beautiful family; his wife, son, two daughters, Tucker the family dog and 10 chickens. Matt and his wife are not sure they have what it takes to become “dance parents,” but they sure do enjoy watching their daughter dance. Matt’s column appears in the Cleveland Daily Banner.)