Today I took Fiona to her first feis (Irish dance competition) of the year. As you may know, I’m afraid of the whole Irish dance hair thing.
There’s a whole lot of stuff moms have to do before they even arrive at a feis, but as far as I can tell about 3/4 of it involves panicking about how to do the hair. I’m afraid of it. Not only is it challenging to put in, it seems to be getting larger and more dramatic every year…edging toward pageant hair. Also, you need to know what type of hair to get and it has to match your child’s hair color, too.
I tore the house apart last night looking for last year’s hair (which Pippi had briefly mistaken for a chew-toy). I was so happy when I finally found it, and then spent about 40 minutes in the bathroom trying to figure out how to secure it to her head so it wouldn’t fly off during a treble jig.
Note: I’ve done it before, but it was an ordeal so my Mommy-brain forgot how to do it.
By the time I finished, it looked like my child had a dead animal on her head.
I lied, of course. I told her I was just practicing, that I was perfecting my method and I’d have it down-pat by tomorrow. I don’t think she bought it but she was so pleased to get her head back that she bolted off to bed. And that never happens.
So today I woke at the crack of dawn because we had to drive an hour to get to the feis. I’d had strange dreams about the dead animal and all the doohickeys and whatchamacallits that Irish dancers require: bobby pins (lots of them, large – not small!), clean poodle socks, glue, ghillies, laces, hard shoes, the drape, pins to pin the drape (hint: never a very good idea to wield safety pins near your kid’s belly button when in a hurry to get onstage…), insider knowledge of which shoulder to drape said drape from…and so on.
Well. On the way in, Fi says to me: “Mom? Do you think you’re going to be able to do this Irish dance mom thing?”
I was laden with a big, stupid TJ Maxx bag full of everything, my huge purse, hangers with clothes on them and a violin, which kept whapping people as I squeezed past them. So I was sweating when I answered, I hope so.
When we got inside we made a B-line to the wig lady who set us up with some hair that had not been gnawed on – and was actually pretty nice.
Then we had to get dressed and deal with the safety pins and lace the ghillies and figure out which stage to be on – not easy – you probably need a Ph.D to learn what stage to put your child on. It’s all on a spreadsheet, see, and I’m not sure but I think it’s written in Latin or something because it took me a really long time to figure out that all we had to do was look on the back of her number card, which told us what stages we were on.
After we did the hair, got her dressed, and figured out where she needed to be – I was almost ecstatic. I felt like we had won something – just being there, ready, with the hair. I was nervous-as-shit but it wasn’t about Fiona, who can dance, it was more about mothering. Because Irish dance mothering is kind of like mothering on steroids, and it’s not my thing – it’s Fi’s thing. But now since it’s her thing I have to get over my fear of Irish dance hair, and my reluctance to join the ranks of stage moms, and be there for her.
<Cue music that makes me sound even more selfless than that last paragraph did.>
As we were waiting for it to start, Fiona directed my attention to a mom who was in the midst of her own dead animal hair disaster. You could tell it was her first feis. She had less than 10 minutes before her kid was supposed to go on stage, and she looked like a deer caught in the headlights – but this deer had tears in her eyes and had just thrown the wig on the ground in frustration.
“Mom, can you help her?” asked Fi.
I went over to the mom and said, “What you need is some help.”
Do you know how relieved she was when I said that? Because no one was helping that poor woman, and she was about to have a seizure she was so freaked out. I told her to high-tail it over to the wig lady pronto (she didn’t even know there was such a thing!) and that everything would be alright. She ran over there. As her little girl passed us her wig popped off her head and slid to the ground – like a dead animal!
When they returned, the little girl had the hair, and the mom whispered, Thank you!
Pay the Irish-dance wig forward. It’s a movement I’m starting. If I hadn’t done that, that little girl’s wig might have popped off her head in the middle of her reel and in about 20 years she would’ve needed to revisit this day in therapy. Because of me, she avoided that.
God, are you listening?
Anyway, we had a great day, and we both learned a lot. The only downside was that after about 7 hours of listening to diddle-dee-dee jigs on the accordian I went into a kind of Irish dance mom coma. If I hear so much as one note on my husband’s accordian in the next 24 hours, there’s no telling what I’ll do…
As we left, Fi said, ”Mommy? I think they should give out trophies to Irish dance moms.”
Me: “Good idea.”
Fi: “If they did you’d get one because you’re a pretty good one.”