Yesterday, our youngest daughter Cozette (6) had a dance recital. After watching her on stage with the other eight girls in her troupe, one thing became increasingly clear – she’s no dancer. Not yet, anyway. Maybe not ever. She hasn’t given us any indication that she ‘loves’ it, the way her sister (9) professes to love soccer.

She’s been going to dance for six or eight months every Friday afternoon for an hour. And yesterday was the crescendo. She didn’t seem nervous about it leading up to it. I tried talking to her about it, to see whether there was some apprehension underneath the cool veneer, but couldn’t find any. She really wasn’t nervous at all. But on stage, she looked confused. Then, all the girls did. They’re six. After the recital, she came out of the dressing room crying. She’d messed up the choreography, and felt awful. My heart was on the floor. Here was my youngest daughter, whose front tooth I’d just pulled earlier – openly weeping in front of everyone. Holding her head low in shame. I lifted her up, looked her in the eyes and said she didn’t mess up.

“Yes I did, Daddy.”

“Honey, even if you did – that happens. No one noticed. I thought you danced beautifully.” She continued to cry. Here was my baby girl, dressed in a pink jumpsuit with silver sequins and matching floppy hat for their performance of ‘Kiss the Girl’ as part of the ‘Under the Sea’ recital theme.

We drove to Trader Joe’s where she picked out a beautiful bouquet of flowers – because Daddy forgot to get them before the show. Dumbass.

On the way home, her mood changed. Later, at the pool, she asked me to pull her other front tooth that was just dangling there. So I did.


Jim Mitchem


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Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.