Madigan started dance classes this week. She has been dancing forever, literally since she was two. This year Maddy is starting late (January instead of September) because she had a play earlier in the year with a relentless practice schedule. No room for dance on the family calendar.

So, tonight was her first time at the ballet class she'd picked out. Good size. Good age range. New teacher. She went in at 6:15 feeling good. I told her I would return in an hour.

I went to look at furniture at a nearby store. Just killed some time. Made my way back to the studio. Sat myself down in the waiting room to start watching her class on the CC television.

Oh no. I could tell the instant I laid eyes on her. Maybe it was the way her shoulders were scrunched up so high; maybe it was her eyes as big as saucers; maybe it was just that way a mother knows when her child is not OK. I'm not sure what tipped me off but I KNEW that she was freaking out. On the verge of losing her shit.

At 7:15 on the dot she ran from the room. Ran. She bolted. None of the other girls did. I asked her when she got to the lobby, "Is the class over?"

"I don't know. I'm never going back there. Let's go!"

I started in with the "Wait a minute. What's going on? What happened?" but she would not talk until I got her to the car. And then she was crying over her talking and so I had to take it to the next level. I called in backup.

Over New York Cheesecake (for her) and low fat, no sugar added Berries n Bananas (for me) we discussed the situation. She HATED the class. New teacher Nickoli (Russian trained ballet dancer himself) was not, as it turned out, mean. He corrected her endlessly because SHE COULDN'T DO what he was asking her to do. The stretches and poses he asked her to hold were so hard they were painful in the extreme. No matter what, even with extra help, even with lots of time to come up to speed, she didn't want to be in this class anymore. End of discussion.

And I told her it was OK. And it was.

Until we got home. To my husband, her father, the 24 year football coach, that guy. Remember him?

Good times.

Needless to say, there were more tears. Needless to say, I was frustrated. To be fair, so was he. I've always taken a different view of sports and extra curriculars (or as I like to call them, "hobbies") than his. We do not see eye to eye. He believes, deeply, in the power of the team dynamic. How "rising to the occasion" by "pushing past the pain" can be so "character building."

That may be true, however I don't think any of those things applied to this situation.

I'm going to have to interject here that being a quitter was not OK in my home as a child. If I signed up for something I was expected to complete the season, year, session or whatever. I also have to interject that this knowledge made me not want to sign up for stuff. Cause I would rather sit on my ass and watch TV than try something new if it turned out that I hated it and had to suffer through endless weeks of torture.

So, what ended up happening was Maddy and her father talked. I broke it up for a bit so she could shower, during which time I tried to manipulate Ruben into thinking like me, failed miserably and finally gave up. When I was tucking Maddy in I asked her what she thought about her talk with her dad.

"It was OK." she said. "I know Daddy really wants me to take the class. But I told Daddy that even though I know that this class might be good for me, I really don't think it is the best for me. And he said that was OK."

I told her I was so proud of her for standing up for herself.

And now I know that this day was a pretty good day after all.


Momo Fali said...

Good for her! And, how mature that she found the right words to describe how she felt.

Nesting Momma said...

"good for me but not the best for me" wow what wisdom for such a young age!! You should be proud. My daughter is almost 5 and has been in ballet since two...we took a session off because she went into to big girl class and it wan't fun anymore..she wants to try again so we'll see. ( she has the same teacher as when she was two so it might work)