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I am grateful to see the end of July. Every year, I brace myself for that one week where I get to grieve losses that altered my path in life for better and for worse. However before I am able to get to that place I have to get through the North American Irish Dance Championships and ALL the DRAMA that goes along with that..mostly from my kid. It is so hard being  the supportive and loving mom when your child acts like an absolute beast. Well in all fairness I know full well the kid is nervous and I would rather that she take out her emotions on me and the rest of the family before she has to compete but this kid has learned from the best and is a bit much to take.

This year July has taken us on a roller coaster ride of emotions…I did not even want to go to the Nationals. I have been helping to care for an elderly relative who is not well and while I enjoy being able to help the timing has been tough and brought back a lot of memories and emotions I thought I had long worked through. I had to leave our uncle in the very capable hands of my husband as we traveled, but I was worried. It is hard to switch gears and be in cheerleader and game mode but I managed.

Maybe it helped that I did not have high expectations for a great outcome in this competition, my daughter has been a few times before and something has always gone wrong, last time she actually got very ill during her competition and barely finished her round. So off we went with low expectations, and a few goals in mind like getting the younger child measured for a new costume, returning the very pricey Gavin we just received that did not fit, needed hundreds of dollars in alterations and had some serious flubs. For those of you Irish dance mammas out there, you will probably know what I am saying. I have to say the staff at Gavin (including Gavin himself) were just awesome to us when I showed them the dress. They told us to have my daughter wear it for her competition and then to return it as they will be making us a brand new dress and refunding all my alterations expenses. It was a pleasure doing business with them in the end and her new dress was gorgeous to look at form a distance. My daughter felt really good dancing in her new dress so what more could I ask for?

Dancing day was a bag of mixed emotions, we were more warmly embraced by friends of ours from other dance schools than from our own school mates. We genuinely wished them well, cheered for them and  honestly I for one believed one of our girls (not mine) was going to recall to the third round. We  were very surprised  by a visit from a former dancer at our school who is now a certified dance teacher and lives not terribly far from where the Nationals were held this year. “A” was always lovely when she danced and is still as lovely as ever. “A” simply came to support the girls from our school and was kind and generous to all of them. I am not sure if I could breathe while I watched my daughter dance but she looked lovely, almost like a little fairy next to the very tall girls she danced  with. I felt bad for one of  our school dancers who by the luck of the draw had to dance with one of the top dancers in the world, I am proud to say she held her own and did a wonderful job.

The way majors work in Irish dance is all dancers in a competition dance 2 rounds, a hard shoe round (either a heavy jig or a hornpipe) and a soft shoe round( either a slip jig or a reel) and at the end of those first 2 rounds the scores are tallied and the top 50% recall  to do a third round once again in heavy shoes. This is called the set round. Recalls are announced in numerical order starting with number 101…we waited for what felt like an eternity and then the announcement was made. We sat on one side of the room with our feis friends and our school mates sat on the other side with nothing exchanged.

Our first dancer, the one stuck with the top dancer did not recall and I felt bad, but the numbers are read so fast all I could do was look at my program and tick off the numbers so I could go back and read it. as the announcer continued to read, none of the dancers from our school in this competition recalled..and then we got to the numbers near my daughter and I heard HER number . I could not believe it, there was my daughter crying in disbelief and I knew i needed to call a few people like my husband, her dance teacher and the relatives. I saw the looks on the faces of our “team” mates as I walked by and if looks could kill my family most certainly would have evaporated on the spot. I understand they were hurt and upset that they did not recall, I truly thought it was going to be them and not us, but the judges saw things differently. If the shoe was on the other foot we most certainly would have stayed to cheer them on, it is  the right thing to do.I feel that even though these kids are competing in a solo competition they are also representing our school and our team. It is ok to walk away and get out that disappointment but come back and say good job or make a gesture of good will, if my kids did not do that I definitely would have spoken to them.

One of our school  moms came up to me and said congrats, she is a lovely woman and a great mom, I have always admired how supportive and loving she is with her kids. I felt bad that I was on the phone with my husband when she called and did not properly thank her (I did see her about a week or 2 later and apologized for being rude, she said in her usual generous manner “you were busy no offense taken”) the kids however, never came up and said great job or congratulations. I cannot say I am surprised though about that. The looks on their faces after recalls were announced was heartbreaking to see.  They left and we did not see them for the rest of the day…oh and about that third round…my kid never expected to recall and did not really practice the set she was expected to do and therefore bombed it. She is not making any excuses, she knows she messed up and she owns it.I think she learned her lesson though. We looked at Nationals in this manner this year…it was a blessing to be there, recalling was unbelievably unexpected and the end placement was more than we asked for. By the way they recalled 56 dancers, my kid was in 42 place at the end of the first 2 rounds, if the girl only practiced her set…well she had the potential to stay at 42 or do better, she ended up in 53 place and I am very proud of her. I am very thankful to our teachers who worked hard with her and the other kids just to get us qualified to attend this prestigious event.

The fallout has not been pretty…the other dancers saw us the following day and refused to speak to us , acknowledge our presence or even sit where we were on a public transportation mode. They never said congrats on my daughter’s facebook page, it has just been ugly. It was so ugly that at class not long after we stood speaking to the teacher (s) (and we have not brought this whole matter up  to them because I am not so sure they would want to do much, they were not there and honestly there are 3 sides to every story and if I see the other side , I am sure they will as well. I am not saying this excuses the ill feelings ..It all makes me sad ) and this group “left” to go home and instead drove their car around the block more than 3 times and finally jumped out to alert us that there was a reverse 911 call and some scary details to break up our conversation…truth was yes there was a reverse 911 call but the scary details were not so scary  and the “action was far away from where we were. My daughter almost and I mean almost wishes that  either she did not recall (she feels it was not worth it at this point) ,  Or what would have been better is if one of them recalled  as well to maybe relieve the tension a little bit, they performed very well better than some of the kids who did recall. How do you help your kid (no matter how old or young they are) deal with someone trying to bring down one of the happier moments in their lives? I do not know, but due to the tension being so high it is also impossible to tell the other kids I thought they looked wonderful and danced beautifully. It was simply one day, but to these kids sometimes that one day means everything for the moment. We have another large competition coming up in a matter of months, who knows what the results will look like then, maybe it will all be reversed I can not say, but I wish them all luck.

I have told my kids the best they can do is move on past the nastiness. If the shoe was on the other foot my kid would feel just as rotten, would most definitely be sulking in the moment, a few tears would fall but I would expect her to pull herself together and come back and be a team player, it is good sportsmanship to win and lose graciously. I can not say why things got so tense, I can not put a blanket statement out there like they were angry, jealous, frustrated, disappointed etc ..that would not be fair  because we never know what is going on in someone else’s life at the moment I know there are valid reasons to feel the way they did.

Still I wish something could be done because all of these kids including my own need to realize that on their own these kids are good but together they are unstoppable. There should be no them vs us, we are a team and should find a way to work together. As a mom I will say they are all really nice kids, they all work hard and they all have a lot to offer, I do not understand why they can not get along. I know my older child is hard to get to know, trust me even at home she is very standoffish. She is the type of kid who does not like to broadcast what bugs her and so she keeps it inside and lets it all go at the worst moments. Oh and home girl has inherited the worst of my traits and can hold a grudge better than anyone I know, I wish she would change this. The younger child is a love and despite these kids no longer being her friend she still cares for them, she still tries to be nice and she still cheers them on and is happy for them, unfortunately I think she has been dragged into the drama and if these kids are not careful we may reach a time when the bridges will not just be burned they will be blown up. I do not want to see that happen at all.

I got to come from all of the drama and dive back into reality…cancer treatments for a sick relative, a child at home with special needs, that horrible week in July when I deal with the deaths of my mothers (my biological mother and her sister my beloved aunt who was more a mother to me than my own was) and a beloved uncle. My mothers died of cancer 4 days and 3 years apart with my uncle in between both of them. Once again, I put on my happy face and picked up our uncle and took him in for treatment not letting on that inside I was feeling like crap.

I am happy to say I made it through that week of July 15, but I am finding it was a lot to deal with this year..on a happy note on almost the last day of the month there was reason to celebrate, a new little person was born into my extended family. This would have been my beloved aunt’s first great grand child and I know she is smiling down upon him from heaven