Saturday, March 27, 2010

So cute, it's almost cruel

Today I went to a skating show put on by a local community skating group. I went because my niece, who's 4 years old, was one of the featured skaters. It was a 2 hour show with a mix of little tots, some junior skaters and a few people who will no doubt go pro one of these days and are definitely showing some promise. Most of the people in the audience were friends and family members and you could tell that quite a few of them were proud parents with camcorders, waiting to see their little tots glide, trip and collide in brightly coloured costumes, no doubt sewn painfully together by themselves.

It was a fun show to watch, with all the little ones paraded around the ice dressed up as gnomes, trolls and lobsters and other various creatures of different degrees of adorableness. All of the same things occur in these events as in pageants, plays, talent shows and little league sports. Lots of parents eagerly watching and cheering their kids, looking for them, pointing them out to other parents or whoever is unlucky enough to be sitting next to them, looking proud and happy. It's the same stuff that parents lord over our heads for eternity as children, and equally, as awkward teens and adults, trucking out the photos or the embarrassing, bad quality, low definition videos.

And when this occurs, you desperately hope as the parent that your child is not the one who takes the fit, crosses their arms, stomps their feet and leaves in the middle of the show. And as the child, you desperately hope that you're not the one who falls flat on their face or that you're the one weird child who's out of sync or finishes all of your spins facing the wrong direction. And as the audience, you just watch and laugh and think about how funny life can be and all the silly moments of our childhood that can make up the greatest memories for parents and kids alike. As well as the worst.

Apart from all the little foibles, one of the highlights of the show was the paging of the parents by the announcer. You have to wonder if there's some sort of equipment error or if one of the kids is crying in the background, but either way, for the parent, it must be somewhat embarrassing. They must wonder if the whole crowd thinks they're a negligent monster parent of some kind or if they've raised monster children who don't play well with others, which would make them negligent by proxy. That would just be another mark of the incredible scrutiny parents must face on a daily basis and you have to feel for them in some ways. Raising children is difficult as it is, expensive, messy, undignified, unruly...the last thing you want is the judgment of others.

But I guess part of what makes parenting worthwhile are the little moments had at pageants and shows, where the kids are so cute that it borders on cruel. Granted, it can't be easy to skate while wearing a little cone hat to show that you're a gnome or little bat wings on your arms. Sometimes you wonder if this cuteness is a form of parent revenge on their children, just like the incriminating photos of kids wearing antler hats and those pajamas with the feet. It's so cute, it's almost cruel.

Special note to my niece who was a bat: you have a great career ahead in theater one day. Nobody skates and shakes a tambourine like you do. :)

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