Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Beauty Pageants For Children

Beauty pageants for kids, a lot of people seem to think they are plain evil but I’m here to testify that they can be a really fun family activity, If you don’t believe me, read Delta Burke’s autobiography “Delta Style.”

When my oldest two daughters were little, I put them in dancing lessons – for grace and energy and something to do in the community. They would dance in shows several weekends each year, wear several different special costumes and we’d do their hair and make up.

We moved away from that area by the time my youngest daughter Mindy was old enough for dancing school and our new community didn’t have one. So she participated in pageants and cheerleading and it was all pretty much the same thing - family fun on the weekends that involved costumes and performing, with hair and makeup being done.

It takes major bucks though. It usually starts by spotting an ad in the local paper for a little local pageant. It doesn’t cost that much, you buy a dress, they compete, there are plenty of trophys and ribbons and the occasional crown tossed around and *voila* you are hooked! If your child is a winner, you are expected to enter them in the national pageant and that’s where it gets expensive. There’s the travel expenses of course, the entry fee, buying a page in the program, staying at the host hotel for a certain number of nights, fees for all the little sub categories, several changes of outfits – some that aren’t even worn on stage. It costs as much as a family vacation.

You can’t do things in halves either - the clothes have to be pageant quality. And several outfits are needed, such as interview, talent, swimsuit, evening gown, western wear, etc.

Mindy loved doing them and after grad school she came home to stay with me for a few weeks. I was living in Las Vegas then. She found out about a beauty pageant being held in town and thought she’d like to do it for old time’s sake while she was still young enough to qualify. The pageant folks were excited because they needed more entries in the older girl category but insisted that she’d have to book a hotel room for 3 nights in order to enter. We could afford the entry fee and she had the clothes but that hotel room put it right out of our range.

Oh well, I’m glad we were able to pull it off while she was growing up. And let me tell you, if a kid doesn’t want to do it … whatever “it” is (dance, cheerleading, pageants, piano lessons, sports … whatever) no force on earth can get them to do it. Several factors in the universe have to come in to play for a child to succeed at an activity - willingness on child's part, parental support, expendable income, talent/brains/beauty, it can never be just something the parent's want.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Jon & Kate Plus 8 - The Final Season?

If you watched the March 23rd episode, J&K seemed to be about to address the rumours about their marital woes at the end of the season finale. Instead it was about the problems the couple are experiencing dealing with fame. Kate is handling it great (who knew?) and Jon is not dealing with it so well. I have my doubts about that. It can't be nice going out in public with 8 little kids you are trying to keep track of while people are undoubtedly calling them by names and reaching for them. But Kate says she loves it, so there you go.
I think it's probably the money she loves. Rumours of them earning in the mid to high 5 figures for each episode would certainly make the situation more bearable for me!
We've all watched this couple morph into very different people than they were 3 years ago. Their body language on the interview couch has been dismal for weeks now. They give love seats a bad name - sitting side by side, but never touching.

Jon is pretty difficult to read but he doesn't seem to be enjoying his kids as much as he used to. The episodes of him holding down the fort while Kate is away on business trips are pretty grim as evidenced by the recent “walk through the woods” (a.k. in fandom as the "Forced Deathmarch") that he dragged the kids out on. There was clearly no joy in mudville. He no longer seems to enjoy playing with the 'tups.

I think it was first obvious that things had changed with Kate during the puppy-buying episode. There were no family meals, the kids were eating while Jon & Kate each stood off at the side. Kate unveiled her new mod look when she stepped out of the van - long black coat, high heeled boots, etc. Not very mumsy like. Then she kept bellowing about how she had picked out "her" puppies. Also while she was chatting afterwards with the dog breeder, I remember thinking "Is she really flirting with him? Right in front of Jon???"

Could America's favorite family really be breaking up? Jon is probably secure in the knowledge that everyone who watches the show will understand why he left that shrew of a wife. What he isn’t counting on would be the backlash – people love those kids and don’t want to see them go through a divorce plus he'd be leaving Kate with 8 kids, aged 8 and under and that could make her more sympathetic.

Kate is not someone I’d want to divorce. And you can’t help feeling for those kids. How would they cope when Daddy is no longer “a part of their daily lives”? What do you think?