Not to be outdone, The Caterpillar also had her own moment of glory this summer as well....

at her dance recital.

I hate that I didn't remember to bring my camera for this photo, but there's a very good reason for that.  Keep reading.

This one was particularly troubling because I had a board of directors' meeting to attend on the same day as the recital so I was ducking out of my meeting early to be there.  That's not the troubling part.  The troubling part is that this particular studio requires that there be two "Stage Moms" for each performance.  It's actually a good idea.  Since there are multiple ages and groups that all perform, the performance is about two hours long.  Which is fine if you're sitting in the audience; but if you're a group of a dozen six-year-olds dressed up in tu-tus, makeup and ballet buns, that stuff all needs to be kept in-tact by performance time and that's kind of a long period of sitting.  So what they do is they keep the kids back stage and only call them up when it's their time to dance. So far, so good.  The problem here is the instructors all teach multiple classes so they can't be back stage with the group.  Hence the need for Stage Moms.  

TL;DR: Basically the Stage Moms are two prison wardens who arrive early and keep the tiny inmates from escaping and beating each other to a pulp while they're locked in a room together and cabin fever sets in.  Then when it's their turn to dance, the stage moms supervise their Death March To The Stage, watch them perform like trained monkeys and then march them back to their cell until the evening is over and parents come to effect their respective paroles.

Oh, and also the Stage Moms volunteer to do this. They are there for the dress rehearsal and for the performance.

Last year, a lovely couple of moms agreed to do it.  We were told to put snacks, water, and something to do in a backpack for our kid and they'd bring a video or two.  It worked out great.  Everyone was happy.

This year no one could do it and it was an issue.  The dance teacher told us that if no one volunteered, they'd hire someone and we'd each have to chip in ten bucks or so to pay that person.  Knowing I had this board meeting and might not even be there for the beginning of the performance, I raised my hand and said, "Sign me up for THAT!"  All of the other moms threw a big, hairy fit about it because they didn't want to pay, but none of them was willing to volunteer either, so finally a couple moms said, Look, I can do it on the performance days but I cannot come to the dress rehearsal because I'm working, or I have boy children who are not allowed backstage or only my husband is available, or some other legitimate reason why springing this on the parents at the last minute and then just standing there waiting for someone to say, "I'll get it" (I really need a video of Cecil Turtle drawling those words over several seconds for the right effect here, but am unable to find what I want so let this suffice) is a bad idea on the studio's part.  

I said, "Well, I have the opposite problem; I'll be just barely making it here for the performance and in fact, might miss the first half if things go sideways at my meeting.  So what if I do the rehearsal (with another mom who had the same issue) and someone else does the performance?"  This was acceptable to all (least of all me, but I was willing to take my lumps because of the moms from last year) and we agreed to proceed.

Only some mother in the group who was not staying with the kids at all then decided to micro manage everything and spent the better part of an hour trying to assign different people different things.  Who will bring snacks?  What kinds of snacks are acceptable?  Who will bring videos? What videos are acceptable?  Who will bring DVD players? Who will bring water?  Who will bring crayons?  Who will bring paper? Who will bring tissues? Who will bring a fan? Who will bring a first aid kit? (yes, a FIRST AID KIT!)  Oh, it was painful.  At one point, I suggested the 'just put stuff in your kid's backpack for them to eat and do' method, but this was not nearly organized enough for her and WHAT IF SOMEONE BROUGHT PEANUTS AND A KID WAS ALLERGIC TO PEANUTS? 

Me: "Is anyone in this class allergic to peanuts?"

Her: "Well, no, but...."

So after the greatest minute details were considered and determined.  All agreed to have their child and their assigned task ready to drop off to me at the dress rehearsal at the appointed time.  

On the day of, I had a sneaking suspicion that I should be prepared for literally everyone to forget most everything.  So I brought some crayons, paper, a few snacks, and bottles of water in my car, just in case.  This turned out to be prescient because no one seemed to think that what they needed to bring for the two-hour performance on Saturday was also what they needed to bring for a four-hour dress rehearsal on Wednesday and I ended up with only the stuff I brought and a box of Vicks Vapo-rub scented tissues, brought by a dad who really didn't understand why he was handing them to me but was told to do so by his wife.  And because the dress rehearsal started around five o'clock in the evening, most of the moms didn't think to feed their kid beforehand. And because for some intelligent reason, they powers that be scheduled six-year-olds to perform in the last quarter of the performance schedule, they were stuck in a room with me, trying to keep them bloodless in their tu-tus and precious makeup for three hours before they even got the chance to move toward the stage. 

One mom came in, dropped off her kid and told me, "Oh by the way, she's a flight risk.  If you turn your head, she'll run out the door," then plopped her unceremoniously down on a chair amidst a dozen other kids and left.  Thus, I began obsessively counting kids for the next three hours because as it turns out, when you dress them up to look the same, they... you know... all look the same... and I couldn't even tell which kid was my kid, much less which one whose face I'd only seen for a minute or two once a week and was the known flight risk.  I just kept going over and over, "1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12.  Wait, did I count that one twice?!? One more time: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11.  Wait, where's the other one? Oh, it's grabbing my skit. OK. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12. Whew! OK! Who wants to color? 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12."

I had brought crayons and paper and coloring books, which was my saving grace.  But you know how kids tire of doing the same thing for more than oh... A MINUTE... and the natives grew restless.  I snatched one kid out of the air who was trying to do a swan dive off the table.  I stood guard at the door when they all tried to make a break for it thinking their numbers could overpower me. I tried to stop them from running full speed after each other in a circle and just settled for them doing it NOT in stalking feet.  I wiped noses. I reset hats. I found lost shoes. I readjusted bobby pins in hair buns.  I staged karaoke contests with my phone and I suggested quiet contests, which, let's be honest, never works.

About forty minutes in, one mom (who had her son in tow, which is why she couldn't be a Stage Mom - no boys allowed backstage) came in and said, "Where are the videos?"  I looked at her like a stroke victim, with wide eyes.

"No one brought them, huh?"

I shook my head, unable to form words.  

"I thought that might happen." So she went out to her car and brought in not one, but two portable DVD players that belonged to her and a bunch of videos and I'm not sure because it all happened so fast, but I think I kissed her hand.

This occupied them for awhile.

But only awhile.

One mom (one of the ones who never supplied a valid reason why she couldn't be a Stage Mom, but came to the dress rehearsal by herself and sat in the audience the entire time looking at her phone) came in at this point and saw her daughter squeezed in, watching between two other ballet-bunned heads and complained to me, "My daughter can't see the screen very well."

I was pretty much done by this point, "Well, I don't know what to tell you.  It's not a theater.  Those are the only DVD players we have and there are other activities at the other table.  So she can either squeeze in, which she seems fine with, or she can color over there.... or you can stay in here and play a game with some of them if they need something different to do."  She looked back at her daughter and left.

By about seven o'clock when we hadn't even been called to the stage yet, the four small bags of goldfish crackers I'd had in my purse had been consumed and everyone was complaining that they were hungry.  I called the KoH in desperation and he went to the store and delivered more snacks and the bottles of water I'd never had time to go back to my car and get.  (If I had never come up with a better reason for marrying him seventeen years ago, THIS would have been it, right here.)  He got way more than I needed, really, so I split the bevy with the group next door.  "Bless you," said my shell-shocked counterpart.

Finally, at hour three-and-a-half, we were called to the stage.  I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Minus the Post Part at this point and sat down in the audience next to the other Stage Mom while they all tip-toed on stage and performed Alouette, the dance they'd spent the last twenty or so weeks practicing. 

It lasted less than two minutes and was the most anti-climactic thing I'd experienced in my entire life... and that's saying something because I watched Dune in its theatrical release.

As they tip-toed off the stage and we got up to follow them, I turned to the other Stage Mom and said, perhaps a little too loudly and much too deadpan, "Well, that was TOTALLY worth it."

I got the biggest laugh of the evening.

The Caterpillar had a great time. She thinks she'd like to dance professionally one day.

Which is good because all the wages she'll earn can cover my therapy bills.