RORY: I had a school thing once, and I wasn’t sure if Mom would want to go so I didn’t invite her. It was my kindergarten “Salute to Vegetables” pageant and I was broccoli and I did a tap dance with a guy that was playing beets and the entire number I was just thinking, “Mom’s not here” and it was my fault that she wasn’t there and, well, it was kind of a life lesson for me.
We already know that Rory studied ballet with Miss Patty when she was a little girl, but apparently she did tap dancing even in kindergarten! I’m guessing Miss Patty also taught tap to the kindergarten class. In A Year in the Life, Rory takes up tap dancing again as a way to relieve stress.
Rory’s little anecdote about the school pageant is actually one of the more plausible things we hear about her childhood. Most things make her seem either too old for her age or too young, but it’s perfectly believable that the thoughtful young child of a single, working mother who’s a maid at an inn would be hesitant at asking her mother to come to a school pageant.
Little Rory would know how hard Lorelai works and that there’s no other parent to fall back on if she’s unavailable. I can imagine her feeling that a school pageant isn’t important enough to pull Lorelai out of work for, yet missing her horribly when the moment arrives, and seeing all the other mothers there.
The fact that she blamed herself entirely for the situation shows that even as a young child, she was already placing herself as the responsible person in the relationship with her mother, and taking on the parental role.