Tap Shoes, Dance Competition, and Active Parenting

958253_10151642609894866_104325619_o“I can’t find my black tap shoes!  I called daddy at home, and he can’t find them either!” panicked Meg in the dressing room at her weekend dance competition.  We arrived about 90 minutes early so she could calm herself and warm up with her dance team.

I had helped pack her stuff for the two numbers she was dancing today.  I could have sworn I checked for every item. I had also asked Meg to double check.  She did have her tan tap shoes for the second routine but needed the black ones for the first.  Seeing that they were neither in the suitcase nor at home, they could only be at the dance studio where she had last worn them during rehearsal last week.  The studio, unfortunately, was closed for the weekend due to this competition.

At this point, I had a choice to make:

A.  Let Meg suffer the consequences for forgetting her tap shoes.

B.  Rescue her by going to the local dance store and buying a new pair.

I went through all the lessons I learned years ago at my Active Parenting classes.  They strongly encouraged us to let our kids experience consequences for their own actions; otherwise, they turn into entitled brats and we fail as parents.  However, they also emphasized that we parents be able to live with those consequences. For example, you just don’t say, “Johnny, we’re canceling our Hawaii vacation if you don’t stop hitting your sister,” if you truly want to go to Hawaii.

So, I took a deep breath and went step-by-step:

1.  If I let Meg experience her mistake, then what are the consequences?

Well, she could just not dance with the team at this competition.  There will be other competitions (like one next weekend, in fact).  Or, she could wear her black jazz shoes instead on stage.  Sure, it doesn’t make any sound, but with over 25 kids tapping on stage, who’s really gonna know?  Alright, so maybe the judges who will deduct a few points…

2.  Whose responsibility was it to make sure the tap shoes were packed?

Both of ours.  Although dance is Meg’s own thing and she is normally very responsible for her age, she still is only 12.  With four different dance routines, it is hard for anyone to keep track of all the costumes and shoes, let alone by a 7th grader. We both should have been more careful.

3.  If I rescue her by going to buy new tap shoes, what are the consequences?

For one, I would be $65 poorer buying the same tap shoes I had just bought recently for this competition season.  Meg could also think that mommy will always be there to rescue her and not learn responsibility.  She could take me for granted and continue to think that money grows on trees.  Or she could be eternally grateful and someday look back at this competition fondly at mommy’s love in action.

Okay, that does it.  I called the local dance store to reserve those tap shoes in her size, then I hopped in the car.   What should have been a 10-minute drive turned out to be 25 heart-thumping-blood-pressure-rising-white-knuckling minutes in Friday traffic.  I was able to buy the shoes and return with only minutes to spare. Meg then got on stage with her team and danced fabulously.

Just as I predicted, Meg was very grateful.  She also said that she was not worried at all about it because she “knew you’d be back with the shoes on time.”  (Yikes!  I wasn’t so sure…) Even when the other dance moms were stressed out (i.e., freaking out) over the situation, Meg kept calm.

“I mean, what’s the worst that can happen?  I could have just worn my black jazz shoes, and no one would have noticed,” she explained.

I love that things don’t rattle her like they did when I was her age.  I wish I had learned long ago the truth from 1 Peter 5:7:

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

If this incident taught Meg the true meaning of this verse, then I just might have made the right choice.

And you, parents — what would you have done?