Margo Sullivan has the itch to dance.

Margo was about 3 or 4 when she had her first ballet recital. I knew enough to bring flowers, but I wasn’t quite prepared for all the ado. The scene was a jangle of nerves, wildly uncomfortable looking outfits and hair pulled back so tightly it gave me a migraine just looking at it. Then came the ballet itself, which is sort of beyond me. Margo got through it okay, but I was happy to cross that experience off the kiddie bucket list before one of us had a nervous breakdown.

But this past year Margo got the dancer’s itch again and Kristen found hip-hop classes at Project Slide ( Now that I’m used to hearing Flo Rida lyrics from my 1st grader, I can say it’s been a great experience. Tickets to the end of season production at the Ferst Center on Georgia Tech’s campus sold out. Margo wouldn’t show us any of the moves, but I knew we were with the right program because the instructor told them, if you mess up, just pretend it’s your solo.

Kristen hit three different stores that week to find the appropriate leggings and tank top, which were just to go underneath Margo’s secret outfit. We weren’t allowed to see it prior to the show either (they would get dressed backstage beforehand). We were however, permitted to know that it cost us $90. If Beyonce really did hand stitch the sequins, it’s a pretty good deal. That might not be true though.

We called in Aunt Maggie to help with hair and makeup because Kristen insisted she was not a stage mom and felt out of her element. Our instructions were that Margo’s hair should be curly for the show. I thought we got off easy because her hair is naturally super curly. Luckily, Maggie knew that meant her hair was first to be completely straightened and then curling ironed into “loose curls.” We Sullivans obviously don’t know much about stage performance and even less about loose curls.

Anyway, the tank and tights were on and feeling good. The hair was straightened and curled to specifications and my little girl was wearing lipstick, which was slightly unsettling but hey, this is show business people! Maggie was going home to get herself ready for the big event so Margo walked her out. On her way back in, she managed to pick up a splinter roughly the size of a golf tee in her big toe. If timing is everything in dance, bad timing must be everything else. And if you thought you heard a tornado siren on a perfectly clear day a few weeks back, it may have just been my daughter.

We were in a time crunch so after a quick soak, Kristen went in with the tweezers while I hug-pinned Margo down. It was not going well. The splinter was in deep and Margo let us know that it would probably hurt less if we just cut her entire foot off. Drama classes won’t be necessary. But Kristen stayed on task and after a 45-minute shriek fest, extracted the offending shard. We patched Margo up and indeed, the show would go on. It was Mother’s Day weekend and stage mom or not, Kristen really earned that new fidget spinner the kids got her.

And the show was fantastic. I don’t know how the kids can do all that stuff and I have no idea how the instructors can teach all that stuff. Margo danced and smiled like the whole ordeal was a distant memory and her loose curls bounced perfectly. One of the songs was “Dance like your Daddy” by Meghan Trainor and in mock fashion they incorporated the shopping cart, the sprinkler, the shoulder roll… if there was any remaining performance stress left in the auditorium, they ushered it right out.

Tim Sullivan grew up in a large family in the Northeast and now lives with his small family in Oakhurst. He can be reached at

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