Monday, May 20, 2013

You are too old for this class

Well, I finally got it.

The thought that has been bouncing around inside the munkins' heads for weeks now.

"Aren't you too old for this class."

Maybe it sleep exhaustion, but I've never wanted to commit an act of violence against an 8 year old ever before in my life. I managed to contain myself, but I am sure my response of "I'm not to old!" was said a little more petulantly and childishly then I would normally of cared for. The kid quickly back-peddled and tried saying that she meant that I was too tall. I am 5'4". Admittedly, while that makes me much taller then all of my class mates, I hardly think it has anything to do with me twisting my ankle, which is what started this conversation.

A minute late, she asked me if I was 16. The look on her face when I told her I was 26 was something like this:

Sadly, this girl is so young, she wouldn't get the reference. The year she was born, that film was already 15 years old. 

But it really did make me question - again - for a minute if I am too old for this. My ankles twist, my knees ache. I work 45 hours a week and have to be responsible for bills, meals and cleaning. 

But ironically enough, not 30 minutes before this interlude with this kid, I was talking to one of the waiting Mom's  about my dancing, while I was changing my shoes. (Please note, this was the first time one of the parents has actually TALKED directly to me, so that was a bit thrilling.) The conversation was something like this:

Her: *Upon seeing me stumbling out a downing almost an entire bottle of water* "Quite a good work out, huh?"
Me: *still panting for breath* Yeah, sometime I envy the kids. They can go for hours without even breaking a sweat.
Her: How long have you been dancing?
Me: *with a shame-faced grimace* Ten years, off and on. But because it's been off and on, I've never gotten very far. I tried starting while I was in high school, but couldn't keep going to class. So I started after I graduated, but with work and bills and stuff I haven't always been able to keep up. You know, all that annoying adult stuff.
Her: I know what you mean, a few years back I tried taking an adult class and just couldn't manage it. Well, you seem very dedicated now.
Me: Yeah, I figure, why the heck not. It was something I always wanted to do as a kid and couldn't. I don't have any kids yet, so the only schedule I have to worry about it my own. So I am just going to go for it.
Her: Good for you!

And that's that. Good for me! Good for any "Adult Dancer". Good for any person who fights for their dreams.

I am choosing to dwell on that conversation from class this week, rather then the talk with the kid. What I keep telling myself it this "Kids just don't know" and honestly, if their parents are doing their job, kids shouldn't know, at least, not at that age.

Kids don't know that childhood flies by faster then you can ever begin to imagine and the someday, they might too be in their twenties, wondering why they weren't able to do all the things they wanted to as kids. But being an adult doesn't mean you need to give up on those dreams.

Kids just don't know that life doesn't end at 18 - that really it just begins. Yes there are alot of responsibilities, but all that self-governance teenagers rage for can be just as fun as they imagine, and the responsibilities are like salt - on their own, they are terrible, but the make the tasty things of life more flavorful.

Kids just don't know that life existed before them. It never really crosses their mind that when you were their age, and first falling passionately in love with Irish Dance, they were -9 years old. They don't understand that you've been obsessed with this art form for longer then they've been alive, and your age and their age have nothing to do with it.

Kids just don't understand that, historically speaking, when the Dance Masters were traveling through Ireland, teaching the ancestor versions of these steps, he wasn't teaching it to the 8 year olds. He was teaching it to the teens and young adults.

Kid's don't realize the only difference between me and them is seventeen years and about a hundred pounds. And if they do, they don't realized that the challenges age and size present can be worn as badges of honor, rather then stared at as insurmountable obstacles. I am proud of the fact that despite any physical limitations, I can leap in the air as high as the small, less gravity bound children.

So, let the kids call me too old. Let them think that I have one foot in the grave and another in an untapped hardshoe on a slippery stage. Let them look at me askance and question why I am in "their" class. And bless them for their small, child-like perspective. I have been an outside observer of the Irish Dance world since 1996, and I refuse to be on the outside looking in any more. I am an adult. I am the master of my own world. And I choose this!

And now, I am going to go drill, because I have 2 feiseanna in a week's time, and I STILL don't know my second slip jig or treble jig step. I will leave you all with this thought, that will really show how old we really are . . .


  1. I LOVE your adult Irish dance wins!

    1. Aww, thanks! I certainly enjoy making them, although sometimes I fear other's won't get the sense of humor/encouragement I mean for them to have. SO glad you enjoy them.

  2. Good points! Another thing kids just don't know is that adults don't generally like to be called out on how old they are! When you're 8 years old, getting older is a good thing; it ups your status among your peers. They don't always get that when you're 20-something and doing an activity that mostly preteens participate in, you may not take so much pride in your "advanced" age.

    Keep it up with the updates and the adult dancer wins! I always find them encouraging--and entertaining. Good luck at the feisanna!

    1. It's so true! I remember being a kid and all I could think about was being a "grown up". Now that I am one, I don't necessarily want to be a kid again, but I am trying to figure out what all the fuss was about.

  3. This is so helpful. I started Irish dance when I was 8 and stopped when I was about 12. And I'm now 21 and wanting to go back and compete again. I was so worried I wouldn't be able to compete anymore because I was over 18. This is so nice to read. Thank you!

  4. Thank you! I needed to see this today. I have actually been out of class for well over a year now due to general adulty things, and have been fighting with myself, trying to decide if I even have it in me to go back. I think I shall take your comment as a sign! :)