Wednesday, March 6th, 2013
I got a lot of great insight from you guys in regards to my ballet class disaster (and a comment from Nancy who called the blog “absurd.” Ouch. I disagree, but she also made some good points so I won’t totally rant on her).
I’m happy to report that we went to the new class and it was oh-so-much better. Fia still didn’t want to let go of my hand, so in my ratty converse and yoga pants, I got to plie and spin with a bunch of little girls while their parents looked on–bored. We even brought Olivia the pig, since I told her it was an “Olivia approved class.” Yes, maybe I am taking this all a bit too far.
At the disaster class I wrote about how she stuck out like a sore thumb in her purple tutu. I said this time I was going to get her an outfit that was more in line with the others. She is wearing it above. It is adorable, and yes, more typical of a ballet outfit.
Nancy’s comment said: “Jill, you admitted to projecting your feelings on to your daughter. She feels bad because her outfit is a different color? She feels bad about herself when you leave? I do not think she felt any of that; she is too young for that much self-examination. And as soon as you get home you order her the perfect dance outfit? I have gone on enough. I guess you get my points.”
But then Julie made me feel a little better when she said: “There is nothing wrong with getting her daughter a new pretty outfit with a splash of originality. The reality is that from a VERY early age children who express originality are separated from the group and they CAN most certainly understand this is happening.”
I think I agree with you both. Part of it is my projecting. But I don’t think it hurts for a semi-shy kid to initially fit in a little more while she finds her groove. Of course I had to laugh when we got to this new class. Half the girls were in pale pink. The other half? In aqua blue and bright orange tutu’s. Maybe I just need to stick to my hip hood for classes since the disaster class was in a less hip area of the city.
About half way through Fia wanted to leave, but I told her we had to stay until the end. She continued to whine, but I just stayed the course.
“Fia, we don’t quit. We will leave when it’s over,” as I glanced at the clock, appalled to realize we still had 27 more minutes.
When it did finally end though, I praised her for staying through the whole class. For the next two days she talked about how much she loved it and how, “Mama, we stayed until the very end too!” I think I’ve decided if the class is good and the teacher doesn’t suck then we at least need to see it through to the end.
The great thing about this class is you don’t have to make a commitment. You can just drop in. So we’ll try it a few more times and if she isn’t into it, or too young, then we’ll stop.
But before I sign off, I want to pose another question that Julie brought up. She said:
“…While 3 is a bit young to worry about being a quitter for life, I do think it is absolutely right to question the decision to make sure you aren’t simply removing all challenges from your child’s life. Because even at 3 a child can learn that complaining means they don’t have to do something. (I also don’t believe kids should get participation “awards” but that is a totally different subject).”
But on that subject, I’m curious: After each swim lesson, Fia goes in the office and picks out a treat. After gymnastics she gets stamps from the coach if she participated and listened well. This week we hit the bookstore first and I got her a coloring book. I told her she couldn’t draw until after she participated in swimming and gymnastics (they are back-to-back on Monday).
In gymnastics she initially didn’t want to jump. I had the coach tell her she had to if she wanted to use her new coloring book. She suddenly became the most active participant there. And in such good spirits to boot! She was waving at me from afar, giddy and laughing with the other kids, etc. So is what I’m doing considered a “participation award?” And if so, is that a bad thing? I certainly don’t want a kid who only does things with an expectation at the end.
So continuing this debate on how far to push your child: What is too much? Are things like stamps, stickers, treats and coloring books considered a reward? Bribery? At 3, how much does that matter?
I await your comments. Even Nancy’s. Just don’t call my questions–or this blog–absurd.
Fia and Olivia: Proud, post-class!
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Milestone Monday, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Must Read | Tags: ballet class, ballet slippers, gymnastics, participation reward, plie, pushing your toddler, swimming, toddler, toddler participation, tutu
Friday, March 1st, 2013
Fia’s obsessed with Olivia–the quirky bossy red pig who refers to her little brother as her “little bother.” It’s a great show, with great books. Olivia is adventurous. She wants to be a great artist. She loves her artist’s easel. Naturally, Fia loves hers too. Ever since Olivia came into our lives, Fia has been a painting machine. I love to watch her splatter it about with such concentration you’d think she was Degas, but with the outcome more like Pollock.
Olivia also loves to do ballet. You know where this is going. Fia, of course, also wants to take ballet. She’s been twirling around the house. We have loads of unique tutus in her closet too, collecting dust (one has a funny story behind it if you care to read). I found a place that has the “Angelina Ballerina” classes. They seemed to really know their stuff. Since it’s based on the character from the PBS show–a mouse–it’s supposed to incorporate a lot of “fun” into the class. The age is 3-4.5. Perfect. We signed up for a trial class. The days leading up to it, Fia twirled even more aggressively around the house (taking a few brutal falls along the way). We talked about which tutu she would wear. She kept saying, “Mom, I’m so excited!” I had high hopes that she wouldn’t get shy and clam up at the class, like she does from time to time with new things.
We dressed her in the outfit.
We did her hair.
It was awful.
First of all, every other girl was dressed in pale pink. Second, the teacher sucked. I guess the regular teacher got stuck in traffic so two classes were combined. This woman made them sit on the floor for the first 10 minutes for “role call.” Then she still couldn’t remember their 8 names. Except Fia. She remembered hers because Fia didn’t want to participate and was ultimately put in the corner. This woman lacked any sort of warmth. It was like she was training them for the Russian ballet.
One little girl halfway through shook her head “no” as she ran across the room to her mom, tears streaming down her face. At least she has on pale pink, I thought, cursing myself for not having a “normal” outfit for my girl. I looked over at Fia, her colorful tutu surrounding her as she sat quietly in the corner, totally out of place (this is probably me projecting her emotion on her outfit more than anything). She had this sad look as she watched all the other girls who seemed far more confident, dance around and even plie (plea-aye). It was heart wrenching.
Finally, after I realized she wasn’t going to come out of the corner (the teacher did give the option in a very stern way, but Fia didn’t react. Just looked right through her in that ethereal way of hers), I said forget it. I motioned for her. I picked her up. She looked like she was holding back tears. I know how excited she was about the class, and how disappointed she was– mostly in herself.
“Mama, I didn’t like that class,” she said, her lip trembling.
“I know honey. I didn’t either.”
I didn’t want her to get in her mind that all ballet is bad though. She is a girl who has definite hang ups. Suddenly at gymnastics, she refuses to do the hoola hoops. This, after almost 2 years of enjoying them. Now she sits and refuses. The swimming thing has been an equal challenge, though just last week she started to “get it” so I’m glad I held out. Phil is worried that she will be a quitter. He says his mom always let him quit at things he wasn’t good at or didn’t like. He wished she would have pushed him more. My friend C, on the other hand, has a dad who made her do sports she hated, like soccer. He pushed her too far and she resented it greatly.
So where do you find the balance as a parent? Any insight here? Of course I want to protect her from having a bad experience, but then I also know that’s life and she needs to adapt. And participate.
I told her we were going to find a different ballet class.
“One that Olivia goes to?”
“Yes,” I said. “In fact, maybe we can even take your Olivia doll with us and show her how great it is.”
I went online and ordered pink ballet shoes, pale pink tights and a lavender leotard. I don’t want her to be a total conformist (thus the lavender) but maybe fitting in look-wise will help give her a confidence boost. We can always use our funky tutus down the road.
This Wednesday afternoon we’re going. A friend of ours takes her daughter and described the class as somewhat chaotic and totally disorganized. It sounds absolutely perfect and right up our alley. Olivia’s too.
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Milestone Monday, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Must Read | Tags: Angelina Ballerina, artist, ballet class, ballet slippers, Olivia, pig, plie, swimming class, toddler ballet, toddler swimming, tutu, tutus, twirling