The security guard was in a muck lather.
No-one was listening. The big crowd kept spilling into his designated pathway outside the fruit shop. They were blocking access to the cheap strawberries.
Keep moving, he’d bark. No stopping. This area MUST be kept clear. It would all be so different if they’d let him carry a gun.
The man with the plastic badge was on the shift from hell. Dance Concert day at our local shopping centre. Five hundred excited mums, dads and grandparents looking for a spot. Something akin to herding cats.
The Teenager and Daughter Two were in action. Lots of their friends too. And other mates cheering in the crowd.
This performance was an hour, tops. Very civilised for a Saturday. Done and dusted before Race One.
The dancers were great. All of them. Smiles lighting up the weekend. And parents proud as punch.
Girls (and boys) dressed up, but so very different from the madness that took place in Melbourne on the same day. The debut of Toddlers and Tiaras in Australia.
As we were dodging our stressed security guard to get an extra photo, parents with a different view on things were working on big hair and spray tans.
You must have heard about the show by now. We’ve watched it a few times. It’s painful. Car crash tv. Children made up to look like adults. Mostly by mothers who are still pining for a shot at the big time.
You’ve probably seen the stories this week. It would be funny if it wasn’t so alarming.
There’s no manual for parenting. We blunder onwards, doing our best. Mistakes are part of the journey. But rule number one, is to protect.
Instinct plays a huge part. You just know, deep down, that those children shouldn’t be on that ridiculous stage.
So here’s my advice. Forget the beauty contests. Want them performing? Head to the local dance school instead.
Yes, I appreciate the irony here. I couldn’t dance if you were shooting at me.
I realise the dance sport scene has had critics too. It can be bloody expensive. And I know some of the bigger enterprises can be pretty full on. But I can only go on what I see my girls involved in. And it’s all a positive influence.
There are hundreds of classes in suburbs everywhere. Most of them cater for all standards. Nothing fancy, the ones I’ve seen. Ours is based in a community hall.
The teachers are young and enthusiastic. Everyone is welcome. If you can muster some sort of shuffle, you’re in.
It’s about being part of a team. Solos are rare. Character building, when you get a bunch of people working on a common goal together.
They train a few times a week. Just like footy and softball and cricket. Making new buddies, outside of the classroom.
It’s healthy. One of the few hours in the day they’re not on a computer, or a phone, or a game.
In the ten acts at that little suburban shopping centre, there were kids of all shapes, sizes and cultures. At one with the music.
Most importantly, they were having fun. THEIR fun. Not ours. Doing what kids like to do. And no need to be the most beautiful to take part.
As a parent, there are few things better than watching your child doing something they really enjoy. Can the Toddlers and Tiaras mob honestly say that? I doubt it.
Here’s hoping sanity prevails, and the American concept doesn’t take hold here. Trust me, we don’t need anything else to make our kids grow up quicker.