That’s pronounced “oh-ROCK-tus” for those of you who don’t speak Gaelic.  This includes myself, of course.   The only way I’ve learned to spell it properly is to remind myself that the word “reach” is sitting there in the middle.  The rest I guess at.

So what IS this bizarre word & why do I bring it up?

IMG_3273Oireachtas is a regional Irish dance competition, a qualifying event for the World Championships.  It’s being held here in Minneapolis over Thanksgiving weekend & my girls are participating.  As a result, Oireachtas has taken over my life.  It’s taken over the whole family’s life.   And it’s the reason my children have wigs.


And no, I’m not kidding.  My children, at a mere 11 and 7 years of age, have wigs.  And they wear them in all seriousness. Because in Irish dancing?  Wigs are a serious business, particularly when you’re competing on a team.  And while my girls are lovely dancers (said their fond mama), training solo champions is a bit outside our budget.  So we’re team dancers.

And when it comes to teams, unison is everything.  The girls must perform each & every step in perfect synchronicity with the other 7 girls on their ceili teams.  And in the event that two teams perform identically, right down to the last decimal point, guess what breaks the tie?

The wig.

IMG_3253Okay, so it’s not quite that simple.  There are other elements to consider but you take my point.  All other things being equal, appearance matters. We all know this; it’s a simple fact of life.  Within the dance world, however, this simple fact is magnified into a relatively pronounced element of…beauty pageant.  Thankfully, Irish dance stipulates long sleeves & covered collar bones.  Good Irish dancers rarely separate their knees very far or for very long, so that other disturbing element of the dance world (mere children performing hypersexual moves in hypersexual costumes) is utterly absent.

IMG_3263Also, if you’re under 10, you can’t even sparkle.  No glitter, no make up, no sequins or rhinestones.  Which is great.  Little girls should look like little girls, not like tiny madams.  But little girls are little girls & they want desperately to dress up, so what have we left them?


Hair is, as I mentioned earlier, a big deal.  And if you’re after elaborate (which we are), believe me,  it’s way easier to bobby pin it on than to build it with whatever happens to be growing out of your head.   I speak from experience on this. Pre-wig, I would spend hours coaxing my children’s stick-straight hair to take the required Irish Dancer curl before a competition. And I have better things to do at 6 a.m.  Like sleep.

Then there’s the issue of perfect synchronicity.  You want matchy-matchy?  Just buy everybody the right wig in the appropriate color & teach the parents how to attach them so they won’t fall off.  All in all, once you really dig into the issue, wigs are definitely the best solution.  But that doesn’t ward off the side-eye from the Parenting Police.  (None of whom, I should point out, only barely survived the Great Curling Iron Wars that took place in our bathroom circa 2011-2013 ).

IMG_3546They want to judge me, though?  They want to disapprove of me?  Of wigs on children?   Of false eyelashes or spray tans or sock glue?  Hey, go ahead.  Judge away.  I don’t mind, because here’s what I know:

My girls are athletes.  Dance is their chosen sport & they tear it up.  Their conditioning includes sit ups, push ups, planks, releves & endless practice.  As a result, they can fly.  I swear on all that’s holy, they defy gravity.  They also memorize incredibly complex rhythms, & reproduce them with nothing but their feet.  My little one is all of 45 pounds & you can hear her hard shoe dances from the street.

So if competing at this level means wigs?  Fine.  They can defy gravity and astonish their mother while wearing a wig.

And guess what else I know?  I know that any wig I put on them is going to stay on them, no matter how high they fly.  I’m good at wigs.  I made sure of it.  And why?  Because I’m their mom & isn’t that my job?  If they’re going to sweat for something–for anything–isn’t it our responsibility as parents to support & encourage & cheer, even if it means becoming an expert applier of wigs to children with perfectly good and abundant hair of their own?

I submit that it does, which is why my children’s fake hair can withstand a hurricane.  Or Oireachtas.

So what about you? We’ve all done crazy things for love, and in support of those we love.  What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done?  Weirder than wigs on 2nd graders?  Come on.  Share!







  • Helen says:

    Is he coming to visit me before my holiday

    Have Fun

  • Helen says:


    I love your posts and I would love to be there watching you daughters dance I find this such a great form of sport 🙂

    When my kids were young the girls did physical culture and when they had their competitions they had to have their hair braided and it took me a while to learn how to do it but I did and I amimed for perfection 🙂 and I guess that is the most I have done

    Have Fun

    And good luck to the girls

    • Susan Sey says:

      Oooh, braids are hard! I applaud you! My girls’ hair is so straight & slippery that I’m pretty sure braids are a pipe dream around here. But I so admire them on other people’s children. Good for you for learning to do it!

    • Cassondra says:

      Helen, what’s physical culture?

      Either that’s an Aussie thing, or I’m just too old to know what it is!

  • Amy Conley says:

    I took all 3 of my children, 2 boys and a girl daughter’s best friend to try out for THE NUTCRACKER in our closest city. They needed extra children for different parts. They taught them the ballet steps!
    Oldest by 5 minutes son decided not to do it, but his brother was thrilled, he was just hitting puberty and there were all those girls walking around in leotards. He was in heaven.
    The worst thing was, each child was in one performance, they did 4, so hubby and I sat through 4 performances of THE NUTCRACKER in one weekend.

    • Susan Sey says:

      Okay, now *that’s* what I’m talking about! *That’s* love! Because I like the Nutcracker just fine, but let’s be honest–it doesn’t make an incredible lot of sense. And some sequences are just plain weird. And four times in a single weekend feels excessive.

      But you love your kids so you buy your tickets. That’s just what you do.

      • Amy Conley says:

        And let’s not forget, one kid wasn’t of my own uterus. Shhe basically lived with us, but she really didn’t belong to me. I call her my extra daughter.

        • Amy Conley says:

          Sorry, I try to forget this part. It was 100 mildz, round tfip to every rrehearsal and performance.

  • Shannon says:

    Since I don’t have children, I don’t do a lot of helping others “fly.” Years ago, I judged debates and the junior high science fair. In a military town, parents were not always connected to a school since the military member’s tour might be two or three years, barely time to find the PTA meeting after unpacking.

    During a major deployment of troops, I made up a Mrs. Claus outfit in bright red with white fur trim. For two years in a row, I was Mrs. Claus handing out gifts.

    • Susan Sey says:

      Wow, you *made* that? See my skills extend as far as bobbypins. I’m a ninja at bobbypins. But actual sewing? Or being on the stage myself, even in costume? Oooh. That would be tough. Good on you!

  • flchen1 says:

    Wow, Susan!! I’m fascinated! I’ve always loved watching Irish dancing (went to a Catholic school for most of elementary and middle school, and a lot of my classmates were Irish, so…) but haven’t ever tried it myself (been tempted, but I’m thinking at this point, even an introductory class is likely to strain my physical capacity beyond bearing 😉 ) Wishing you and your daughters much pleasure and success at Oireachtas!

    I DO have a dancing daughter though, and boy, I agree that there are all kinds of things I never thought I’d have to learn about… fake eyelashes, for one. I’m not sure I’d really lived before trying to glue falsies to DD’s lids… I’m still no good at this part, and I’m deeply grateful for one of my fellow dance moms who patiently takes care of my daughter’s eyelash needs as well 😉 I have managed to master the “smokey eye” look, which, really, is shocking considering how frequently I wear makeup myself. 😀 And yes, I can do hair–side-winding French braid into a high bun? Check! A smooth high pony? Check! Half up, half down? Check! High pony with a pouf? Got it right here… Fortunately our studio has opted to avoid styles involving elaborate curls… should we ever veer in that direction, I’ll be lobbying immediately for the wigs and contacting you about the best vendor 😀

    • Susan Sey says:

      In addition to wigs, I am also the proud owner of two “bump it”s and innumerable “donuts.” It’s what you put under a wig that counts. It’s all infrastructure! If it ever comes down to that, please do get in touch. I have resources.

      And if I ever have to do braiding of any sort, expect an SOS from me. Because you have skills & I will need help. A lot of help. 🙂

      • flchen1 says:

        Ooh, I have used donuts, but don’t own any, and have never used a Bump-it… I would need loads of help in that case!

        As for braiding, if you ever need help, let me know! I’ve got books, videos, and all kinds of websites, etc. 😉

  • Susan – I would love to see your children do those high stepping Irish dances. What fun! And – I have to admit – I had no idea that they wore wigs. It makes perfect sense, mind you. I just never stopped to consider. And Sock Glue? They have such things? Obviously, they do!

    Good Luck to the girls (and their cheering mom). I bet they soar and will hold these memories close to their hearts always.

  • Cassondra says:

    Susan, I LOVE this post!

    I would all over those wigs, were in in your position. The curls always fall out of the real hair too soon anyway, when they’re bouncing around like that. A limp ‘do is never as good as a wig.

    I have not done strange things like that for love of another, as I don’t have kids. I did those strange things to myself though…and my poor mom suffered through “I want this bodice but I want that sleeve and that cuff and I want the skirt to flare more than the pattern…” sewing for me when I was young and she was making my stage clothes.

    Yup. No pattern was good enough as it was. The young, hip, fashion designer in me, who wanted to look stage-worthy, was not willing to wear regular street clothes on stage. Heck. Stevie Nicks had funky dresses which were available NOWHERE to the public. I wanted awesome stage clothes too. And my mom loved me enough to spend hours at the sewing machine, making it happen.

    I have done some very odd things to myself. I’ve duct taped my breasts down flat for plays. I’ve duct taped them up high for swimsuit competitions. I’ve smeared Vaseline on my teeth so I could smile for hours. I’ve paid to have my high-heeled shoes altered with soles that would not slip when I danced around in them in front of a bunch of people. I’ve sprayed stuff on my hair that would have made wet spaghetti stiff. I’ve then sprayed more stuff on my hair that made it shimmer like it had built-in glitter. No lie. I glowed like a moon goddess when the lights hit me. (Then there’s the body glow–same effect for the exposed shoulders, throat, legs, arms…you get the idea)

    All this in the name of looking good on stage. I’ve also rehearsed until my fingers bled, and worn those little hand warming gloves to the edge of the stage to try to keep my fingers flexible enough to play at outdoor theaters in the cold. I’ve driven 30 miles one way in snow and ice to get plain Lay’s potato chips and halls cough drops for my throat so I could hit the notes I needed to hit.
    Yeah. I look back on it and it sounds ridiculous, but it’s what you do when the show must go on, right? And if the show needs wigs, you get wigs!

    (By the way, that stiffening, thickening spray stuff is the shizzle, and it’s what you will need if you every really do need to braid the little girls’ fine, straight hair. ) Product. When the hair won’t cooperate, the word you want is PRODUCT, baby. And the hair products are godawful expensive. But you’ll do it when the time comes.


    I have to tell you, I’ve been on the receiving end of just that kind of wig-buying style love. And that was when my mom really couldn’t afford the proverbial wig. She always found a way. And you know what? It made me who I am. Those experiences are ones I still draw on. That poise. That ability to control my own fear and walk out there and make it look like I OWN that stage. OR that conference table. OR that business meeting. That stuff you’re doing is building those babies into confident little badasses, and because of you, they can rule the world if they want to.

    You GO, Mama.

  • Cassondra says:

    Oh yeah…I forgot to ask..

    What’s sock glue?

  • Susan, what fun! I envy people who can learn dance steps. I used to work with a woman who married a guy from Ireland, and her daughter loved Irish dancing with her stepdad. I think she did some competitions, too.

    I don’t think the wig, etc., for the dance competition is any different from the wigs and makeup kids in children’s theater wear. And go you for being so involved and supportive of what your girls enjoy.

    I must confess that I’ve never done anything weird in support of the boy’s goals or the dh’s. The boy and I did take karate together for a while, but mainly because our belt colors put us into the same group. That’s about as weird as we get.

    One of the strangest moments I had with that, though, was after he went on up the ladder and I decided to take a book and read rather than drop him off and return in an hour. It happened to be a sparring day. With full protective gear, as usual. The boy gave as good as he got, but something in me still semi-freaked at seeing people hit my boy. So I’d have to say it was kind of weird to sit there and watch it.

  • catslady says:

    Speaking of wigs, when I was in my early 20’s and working, the big boss hated long hair on women (heard his daughter had long hair) so I was actually told to cut it. I can be extremely stubborn on certain things so what I did was go out and bought a wig. Had to wear it for more than 2 years until I transferred to another dept. Women weren’t allowed to smoke either (I didn’t) and they could ask what kind of birth control you used (that happened when I got engaged).

  • Joan Kayse says:

    My Mom CROCHETED me a Raggedy Ann wig when I was twelve 😀 I still have it, if you ever need it.

    I adore that your girls are loving the dance and would love to see them perform. The competition I did attend in Louisville was interesting…and the wig sellers…a bit scary actually. Not as scary as the 70 plus year old woman decked out in full gear…including bouncy ringlet wig.

    And sock glue (as Susan explained) Cassondra is what it sounds like…glue to keep their knee high socks from sliding down while dancing