The weeks of practices and rehearsals are finally done. Days of listening to your precious li’l ‘un singing the same three lines on loop have wound to a close.

It’s the big day. It’s time for your budding ballerina, actor, or singer to take center stage. Along with 43 other wiggly, excited second-graders.

Your precious, talented kidling is up at the crack of dawn. “Mama, wake up. It’s my performance today.”

 

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After a few years of this drill, you know exactly how this is going to roll out:

Costume conundrums

Her costume is all set. You made sure of that weeks ago, down to the very last detail. Except, wait, she needs BLACK socks? You check the email from school again – did they mention black socks? Um… the fine print. It sneaks up on you like a gelatinous mid-section in your late thirties. You wonder where that came from. It wasn’t there the last time you looked.

“Use your brother’s socks,” you tell her.

Turns out, he has blue socks, he has green socks, even red socks, but black…? Not on this fine afternoon.

You rummage through your drawer and pull out your black socks.

“Here, this will work,” you assure your seven-year-old, with her teensy, made-for-Cinderella’s-glass-slippers feet.

“They’re too big,” she whines.

“No one will notice,” you smile, shushing her and your mom-guilt with a single, practiced swipe.

So, off she goes in her perfect little costume. Her black socks flopping along, like flippers on an uncoordinated penguin.

To dress up or dress down, that is the question

Now that you’ve got her costume squared away, the “what should I wear?” game begins. You don’t want to look like the school performance is the main event on your social calendar (although, really, who are you kidding?). You also don’t want to look like the organic-granola-and-chia-seeds mom who rolled out of bed with the entrenched belief that flip flops work perfectly for every occasion.

Begin Operation Clothes Avalanche: the mission where discarded heap of clothes on the bed grows disturbingly tall and you still have nothing to wear. Too tight, too old, too last year, too… Times up, this will do. You’ll wear your pointy stilettos to make up for it. But then you remember the dreadful parking situation from last year. Nix the heels.

The name game

You’ve seen them at drop off and you’ve labelled them in your head: the she’s-got-it-together mom, the bouncy-ponytail-off-to-the-gym mom, the I’m-taking-Bill-Gates-down mom. But their names?  On the flip side, they have no clue what your name is either. It’s a level playing field. This is the once a year, “Oh, my son mentions your daughter ALL THE TIME” event. Smile a lot, wave from afar, and settle down to watch your child. Or the sliver of a person you think is your child, in the jumble of eager elementary school faces lined up like a bleacher full of dominoes.

The inevitable jinx

You hold your breath. It’s your baby’s time to shine. She’s been singing this in her sleep. Of course, at the precise moment she steps up to the mic it emits one of those ear-piercing squeaks that makes you want to run and take cover in a bomb shelter. If it isn’t the mic, it’s a prop, a person, absolutely anything to jinx her Kelly Clarkson moment – the sombrero that swallows up her face, the tree branch that knocks her off her pedestal, the class clown who decides to distract the entire audience with a Macarena routine just as she begins singing.

Capture the moment. Not.

The hat fits, the mic works, and the stars finally seem to align. You have the SLR aimed to capture this moment for posterity. That’s when the family of eight in front of you decides that your kid’s solo is the perfect moment to make a polite exit. You now have the perfect footage of varying sizes of derriere. Not that you mind or anything. Although it might be in their best interest to enroll in a witness protection program deep in sub-Saharan Africa.

Your child is done now. You tell that she really knocked it out of the park. The rest you’ll save for the car because it’s that time of the annual school tradition: the parking lot battle. It’s the time when parents who just wept over a It’s a Small World rendition silently cuss each other out, while waving goodbye. Until next year then!