Jazz Hands and Messed Up Brains

It’s the stuff of legends. Heavily made up cherubs, being preened by even more heavily made up Mothers, sequins, feathers, lycra. Sweaty shoes and jazz hands.

I am now there. Hold me.

Once I’ve sussed out the types of dance Moms on offer, I’ll gladly note them down in a post. For now, everyone seems relatively sane and glitter free. For now…..

Miss DP has her first dance concert on the weekend. And it’s an all hands on deck affair. Rehearsals at the crack of dawn, costume try outs, hair being sorted, bloody skin coloured tights needing to be sourced (truly, a pain in the ass to find).

A bunch of five year olds, whipped into a frenzied excitement, all in a contained space. Dancing to “Let it Go”. I’ll let you sit with that thought…..

Here, I’ll share my wine with you. It’s scary, isn’t it?

In between all the excitement and sweaty feet smell (my god, it’s horrend), the reality can be a bit scary. Stage fright is real.

I remember when I was a wee lass, dancing in the state championships (oh yes. Yes I did. Just call me twinkle toes). My dance routine had been changed at the last minute and I was madly backstage practicing again and again, riiiiiight up until my turn on stage.

I jumped up there, beaming smile (well actually I had no idea how to smile at 6. I kind of just bared my teeth. It was awks) and got myself into position. Sequins were a-glowin’. Taffeta was a-flowin’. The music began. I started dancing, taking steps across the stage… and then?


I’d forgotten the steps. I’d practiced it so much, that when I was up there, I completely blanked out on the new part of the routine. All I can remember is staring out into the crowd, seeing a crowd of hushed faces, all staring up at me. I was doing a lame step-tap from side to side while my brain packed its bags and left the building. You would’ve seen tumbleweeds blowing through my head.

dancing meme napoleon
My spirit animal

Honestly I can’t remember what else happened. My brain froze to that part and then the next thing I know the music stopped, people were pity clapping me, I bared my teeth once more, my chubby little sequined frame skipped off stage and I proceeded to heave tears. Red hot tapper tears streaming down my heavily made-up face. This is the stuff therapy is made of. I still cringe now at the thought of it.

Apparently though it wasn’t as horrendous as I remember. According to my Mum, during the great blank out of ’88 I actually reverted back to an old routine almost seamlessly, and barely a person noticed me falter. What the hell, brain?! What.the.hell. Why would you torture a kid like that? And why did it take my mum like nearly 30 years to tell me that?? She’s in on the stitch up with my brain.

Isn’t the brain amazingly f’ed up?? Here in my memory, I blanked and stood there step-tapping like a dick. Humiliating. Soul crushing. It’s haunted me for years and years. But I’d actually continued on dancing, and finished well. Why would my brain not remember that shit?? I’m now convinced my brain is designed to send me insane. The kids are just the icing on the already messed up cake really.

From the left field dancing
This was totally the size of the audience I blanked out in front of. Not really. But humour me. IT WAS PAINFUL. Image source

So when it comes to our cherubs, that stage fright or mind blanking is real, and can last a loooong time if they let it. Something we think isn’t a big deal, can be a huge deal to them. And with my sensitive little petal, no doubt she’ll hold onto something really minute and it will become a mountain for her.

I’m going to whip up a post on memories and how to help kids deal with particularly shitty ones, but one thing to remember is that we aren’t fully responsible for messing our kids memories up. Their own brains are pretty good at doing that by themselves. Isn’t that a relief?! Finally, one less thing to feel guilty about (which will surely be replaced by a million other things. But still. One less thing!). We can at least support them and help fill in the blanks when they need us to. And then also fill in our own blanks about shitty parenting moments that we beat ourselves up about.

Have you had any particularly horrend memories from childhood that have stuck? How accurate were they from what really happened? Is your brain as messed up as mine? Actually, don’t answer that.