Today was the dance studio's annual photo marathon. Despite my most valiant attempts to skip it, both of my daughters' dance teachers asked that they be there for the group photo, even though I promised that we wouldn't buy any.
Now, any jaded reader can see where this story would typically be heading. Clearly, I am going to get to the photo shoot and give in, dropping gobs of money on lucite sculptures of my JonBenet'd children in poses so adorable and photogenic that a modeling contract will surely be around the corner. Thankfully, and to the great relief of my credit card statement, I managed to not go there. Actually, my grip on reality seemed to falter before we even got to the dance studio.
Part of my reasoning for succumbing to the guilt trips of the dance teachers ("But we already posed the whole class for the group photo. It would be really nice if you could just bring her.") was the rationale that picture day would provide a good run-through with costumes, makeup, hair...all the most important parts of any performance. In fact, part of preparation for picture and recital day consisted of a mini-seminar for the moms (and yes - many of them are bona-fide Momzillas) with detailed note-taking about hair and makeup requirements. And here started my downfall.
At the hair and makeup meeting, each mother in the beginning tap class was handed a pre-printed form with spaces to take notes about hairstyle, lipstick color, and the like. My mother can tell you that I harbor a particular weakness for filling out forms. Apparently, one of my favorite activities as a preschooler was filling out a teacher's gradebook. While I'm certain that any psychotherapist worth her salt could posit this finding as the keystone to my entire being, I can boil it down to the two words that entered my head the moment I was handed that blissfully blank form. "GAME ON!"
I'm almost not embarrassed (almost) to report that I took copious notes during the very brief lecture, and asked at least three insightful questions. Honestly, it doesn't take much for me to revert back to fifth grade behavior. But this ridiculousness only demonstrates my inner competitive nerd. Not my 'Zilla.
Momzilla showed up this morning shortly after breakfast, when I began to style my first grader's hair into a perfect bun and redesigned the scrunchie geometry so it fit the bun better. I then used two (!) shades of blush in the process of applying stage makeup, and actually swore a little under my breath when I couldn't find black eyeliner for her. My husband, understandably a little frightened for the safety of his child in the hands of this apparent madwoman, asked if it was absolutely necessary that she wear mascara for the photo that we aren't buying. My response: "Are you in charge of this project, or am I?" as I rushed all three kids out the door so that we wouldn't be late for the photo session.
Sure, that was scary. But the real nuttiness didn't even kick in until we got to the dance studio. I hurried her into the dressing room to line up for the picture, and realized that two of the girls in the group had their hair in (gasp!) ponytails instead of a perfect bun. And these two weren't even wearing makeup, let alone proper stage makeup (the horror!). At that moment, I became incensed. I mean, who did those mothers think they were? Did they not remember the meeting? DID THEY NOT TAKE NOTES ON THE FORM???
I will admit that I acknowledged to myself at that moment (and now to you) that I may have stepped just a toe over the edge. In the grand scheme of things, whether a child's hair meets the specifications as noted on the hair-and-makeup form really will not impact the proceedings of the universe. I get it.
However, my competitive self did later move me to ensure that my third-grader had a perfect ballet bun and mascara (but only one shade of blush) for her photo later in the afternoon. Like any good therapy patient, I acknowledge that my attention to stage makeup detail prevented me from noticing that my two-year-old was squirting a juice box all over the kitchen floor, and may have actually been a detractor from my ability to parent effectively at that moment. (Also like any good therapy patient, I recognize my skill at adding just enough qualifiers to any apparently contrite statement to ensure that I, in fact, was right all along.)
I am happy to report, though, that I did manage to grow some adult-flavored reason by the time we went back to the studio for the ballet photo. Instead of being Bluto-style incensed at the kids who showed up without perfect hair and makeup, I shrugged it off. After all, it's only a photo (that I still managed to not buy). And at the risk of allowing my competitiveness to interfere with productive living, my kid's ballet bun was perfect!
At this point, I retain a seed of hope that the dance photo experience will have not only worked out the costume kinks before the actual recital, but will have also exorcised my inner competitive Momzilla from the dressing room prior to the performance. I'll let you know if I manage to regain the balance and focus that will allow not only great stage eyeliner application, but a juice-free floor as well.