Disclaimer: If you have saw the show “Dance Moms” then this story will probably not shock you nearly as much.
Last summer, my daughter and I traveled a few hours from our home for her to participate in a dance competition. This was a new experience for us because this was Nationals! This wasn’t just a weekend competition where all of our friends and family could attend. This was an intense 5 day event that included classes and auditions along with the competition.
I was excited for my daughter, we can call her E. She was blissfully unaware of so much drama that tends to follow us women around. For reasons unrelated to this particular story I hadn’t exactly been looking forward to this experience, but I was ready! We were going to bond and have fun together and it was going to be great!
I was so naive.
We checked into our hotel and as soon as I fell onto the ROCK SOLID bed I knew this week would be… miserable. My husband and son would join us later in the week so for the first few days of classes it was just me and my girl! I had been quite responsible by bringing snacks and packing a cute little day bag for us to take into classes. I had a book to read and I even remembered my glasses so really I was winning at life.
I spent the first few days observing her classes and I actually found it interesting. I danced some when I was younger so I always appreciate watching and listening… Lord knows my body is way past the point of “doing” when it comes to dance. I liked encouraging her and all of the teachers seemed so nice… minus the loud and strict Russian ballet teacher. I’m sure he was a nice man with a soft side but what he put out there felt way more like a dictator preparing his army for battle. Okay, that sounds a little intense but you get my point.
At the end of the first few days of classes there was an audition. The dancers were taught a combination according to their age group and then given a number to wear and performed in small groups to be judged. The winners received scholarships to the next year’s competition and I was so proud that my daughter wanted to compete.
Did I mention that the auditions were optional? They were. This whole experience I’m about to share with you was OPTIONAL. We could have opted out… We could have gone to the pool… Taken a nap… Done ANYTHING else… but no.
The teacher came to teach the combination and I watched my sweet girl try her hardest to get the moves and remember where they went. She looked adorable. There was a short break when they were finished teaching and they let us know that we should go to the bathroom now because once the doors were closed they wouldn’t be reopening. If you see where I’m going with this just wait! Hold on a minute!
E didn’t say anything about needing to use the restroom and since I’m not in the habit of asking her I didn’t think anything of it. She always tells me before she needs to go. My sweet son, on the other hand, will suddenly shriek from the backseat “I’m about to pee!” and he always means it. So we constantly ask him if he has to go. But not E. No… She’s my strong bladder child. Ha! She can hold it if she needs to. She’s a big girl!
After a good 15 minutes they closed the doors. Two sets of doors that lead out of a giant hotel ballroom were now guarded by two dance competition people. The groups were called up one by one. E’s group was one of the first ones to go and directly after she finished, instead of taking her spot back with her group, she ran to me nearly in tears and said the dreaded words… “Mommy I’m about to pee!” NO! Ugh! Not now! But the frustration that ran over me was short lived. It quickly gave way to panic when I realized that half of the room was staring at us.
I grabbed her hand and we made our way to the first set of double doors that was guarded by a young man. I explained to him that I was so sorry but my daughter needed to use the restroom immediately. A look of fear shot across his face and he began to nervously explain that he was not allowed to open the doors at all. I tried to reason with him but gave in quickly when the next group finished their number and the room became silent again.
I told E to go sit back with her group and try her best to hold it. I didn’t think the auditions could really last that much longer. She held out through one more group and then darted across the dance floor in front of everyone! I snatched her up and made my way back across the room to the next set of doors. This one was guarded by a woman. She would understand. She would look into my little girl’s eyes and know that this was a special exception.
This woman saw me coming. Instead of looking at us with pity and helping us quietly exit she chose to put her arm through the bars of the double doors and brace herself against it. I thought maybe she didn’t understand. MAYBE she hadn’t been watching this whole ordeal and hadn’t noticed my 5 year old little girl jumping around trying not to pee on herself. But I was oh so wrong. Before I made it all the way to her she spoke first. “I can’t let you out” I calmly explained that my daughter could not hold it and we needed to leave. I assured her that if she let us out we would not come back in. She responded coldly “I can’t let you out”. At this point the obscenities I was screaming at this women in my head (hey it’s real talk okay?) were horrible and I still think about that day and repent.
She was large and in charge and it was clear that if I tried to push the door open on my own she was going to wrestle me to the ground and win. She had no compassion and showed no mercy. I clenched my jaw and told her in my most stern “mom voice” that she WAS going to let us out and she was going to let us out immediately. I also bit my lip so that I didn’t burst into tears at this ridiculous injustice. She stood firm. There was no winning. I argued as much as I could before I realized she really wasn’t going to move. She tightened her grip on the door and I turned and walked away. I brought E with me to my seat this time and had the real thought that she was probably going to pee all over herself right there in that hotel ballroom. I was going to be cleaning up pee. Ugh!
Then it happened…
A woman stood up as we were walking back and nearly yelled at me asking me if they were really not going to let her go to the bathroom. I just shook my head because the tears were welling up… tears of defeat and anger. She said “I don’t think so!” and grabbed E’s hand and headed for the doors guarded by the young boy. He told her when she walked up that he couldn’t let her out but that didn’t matter because she was headed for the door! He hadn’t been so prepared as to physically block the door so this woman just pushed right through. I ran after them and scooped up E and took her to the restroom. We both cried.
I hurried out of the bathroom once she was done and found my hero! I introduced myself and thanked her profusely. It turned out that she was from our dance company. She was a mom to one of the older girls so we hadn’t met before then. She didn’t even know that we were from the same studio she just knew that she was going to help us. How did she just do that? How did she just rescue us?
I wanted to be this woman.
I won’t go into details about the reactions from our studio about the ruckus that we had caused but let’s just say that I’m pretty sure the general consensus of that room was that E should have popped a squat in the corner of the ballroom rather than open the door during auditions. But I don’t care one bit. I’m eternally grateful to the woman who barreled through those ballroom doors that day with my child in tow. She did something that I couldn’t do.
It’s hard to encounter situations like this as a parent and not let yourself feel discouraged. I couldn’t help my daughter that day. I failed. Yes, I failed, but I’m not a failure. It was just a big lesson learned. That situation actually encouraged me. This woman did whatever it took and that’s why I want to be this woman. Next time I’m barreling through that door. Actually, next time I’m going to remember to have my child go to the bathroom beforehand but you get where I’m going with that.
So that’s the time when she couldn’t pee. If you were wondering, the auditions lasted another 45 minutes after we left the ballroom. It was terrible and ridiculous and I’m so glad that season is over! Thanks so much for listening!
Fun Fact: The large and in charge lady that was guarding the second set of doors was actually the same lady I had to turn in E’s photo to for the photogenic competition. I was certain that she would toss our photo… or burn it… but it turned out that E won for her division! Sweet, sweet victory!