Direct is best defense

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Performance day is always nerve-wracking.

Is their hair right? Is that lipstick too dark? Mercy, did I forget her shoes?

I don’t consider myself a “dance mom” by any means – mainly because I don’t have anyone taking dance, per se – yet. I had one in baton and one in tumbling. Mostly it’s because I’m a “just have fun at it” mom.

That day, I didn’t worry about the one doing baton very much. We’d downloaded her song, and she’d practiced religiously in the backyard, tossing that baton and making me think she was going to knock out a window for sure. No broken windows later, and I’m happy to report she did great.

It was the other one I was worried about. In hindsight, I should have known better.

But still, I worried as my special girl strutted her stuff because I tend to forget that she doesn’t look like other children. Realizing that she’s about to debut herself in front of a crowd of more than 500 in a packed auditorium is enough to make you want to throw up.

Anywhere we go together people – especially those with pretty cherub children – tend to give me pitying looks without realizing it, and I want to say to them, with just the right amount of sarcasm, “Can I help you with something?”

Instead I smile and say, eye-to-eye, “How are you?”

Directness is generally the best defense, I’ve found.

So, it was with great interest that I clicked through to the news story on Nicole Kelly.

Not only was Kelly crowned Miss Iowa on Saturday, but in doing so, she also became the first pageant winner in history missing a limb. You see, Kelly was born without her left forearm.

In her bio on the Miss Iowa pageant’s website, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln graduate wrote this about her disability:

“As I grew older, I learned to offset the initial stares I received from people with an outgoing personality that would not give in to ‘No.’ This meant that I tried everything! From baseball, to dance to diving, there was nothing I would not try,” Kelly shared.

“I found my passion within a world where I was giving people permission to stare…the stage,” she said.

Reading that, it made me feel like directness is the best way to things, and thrilled to see that girls with disabilities now have such a positive role model. Who knows, it might be an eye-opener to others as well.

And on that note, I’m happy to report that my green-sequined dinosaur had a “roaring” good time and her performance was fabulous.