MegaMAID's Parenting Parables

Life moves fast! Taking time to write (or read) about it sometimes helps keep things in perspective. Below you'll find a few thoughts from Meg, a MAID in Maryland...

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Location: Maryland, United States

“Mother Addicted to Irish Dance” (MAID) is a title that I first began to earn in the summer of 2003. Watching my daughter express the music of my ancestry through this beautiful art form stirred in me a joy that was … all-consuming! It led to an “addiction” that I continue to feed as a parent, as a writer, as an adult dancer, and as an enthusiastic Craic participant.

September 06, 2006

Is It About Winning?

As of this summer, my family has officially lost “rookie” status in the feis world. Our first feis was the Nation’s Capital Feis, July 24, 2005, so we’ve recently rounded the one year mark. (Given the severity of my “addiction”, though, we probably actually passed the symptoms of rookie status a bit sooner than most.)

Anniversaries are generally a good time to reminisce, so I’m taking this opportunity to contemplate our feising experience thus far. By all standards, Katie has had an extremely successful first year of competing. But what, truly, is our motivation to feis? Is it about winning?

In the spring of 2005, when her teacher first suggested that I consider entering Katie in a feis, I was very resistant. Like her mother, my daughter has a strong pacifist streak in her, and tended to shy away from highly competitive environments. For example, when we played Candy Land together, Katie wouldn’t let the game end until all of the players had reached the top of the game board. It wasn’t about who was first, it was the fun of playing until all of the players arrived at the Candy Castle for a big party. Was this benevolent young soul ready to face the reality of winning versus losing in solo dance competitions?

Yet, armed with an optimistic attitude, we embarked upon our first feis adventures. Our goal was (and remains) to decide whether or not the feis experience was worth it before checking the score boards. I still hoped that she would win at least a few prizes, though. (Maybe I do have more competitive instincts than I prefer to recognize???) My wise friend, Molly, once told me that learning how to lose gracefully helps to build character, and that Irish dance will offer many, many opportunities for character development.

A funny thing happened, though. Katie won far more frequently than I expected. I had prepared myself to support her through the life lesson of perseverant optimism amidst the reality of only an occasional win. (I’m still prepared for it, by the way – I realize that championship level competition is a whole different ballgame.) But that hasn’t really happened yet. Instead, she has enjoyed success upon success and has rapidly climbed to Prizewinner level. Which, again, begs the question, how much of her motivation in this activity is the sweet taste of success?

First, one must ask, what is the “sweet taste of success” anyway? Unlike the game of Candy Land, success in Irish Dance doesn’t need to wait until the end, at the top of the game board. Our family has made lifelong friends in our Irish dance experiences, visited new places, confronted new challenges, and grown together because of it all. These are the reasons that I’m glad that my family is a part of the feis world. And we plan to stick around for as long as our fun lasts!

Yes, it’s about winning. But it’s not necessarily about winning medals and trophies. Just remember to keep playing until all of the players arrive at the big party.



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