So when you do you know as a parent that this ballet thing is worth pursuing? Or should your young daughter try soccer? Or an instrument? Or even another type of dance? I still ask myself this question. E has always been creative and musical – she sings beautifully, has played violin & oboe in school orchestras until high school, and when at home, in our “studio” (aka the dining room), she is often at the piano learning chords, or picking up one of her several guitars and singing to Adele or by someone else, that I can’t remember the name of. But ballet has been the core of her life for as long as she can remember. But i was so wary of the horror stories I would read from other dance moms about competitions, over-demanding teachers and the amount of time away from home traveling to the latest and greatest dance workshop. I am a business owner/working mom without thousands in the bank, as well as her older brother at home that needed me as well. What to do? Encourage her not to dance, or see where it leads?
With much prayer and yes, talking to your child no matter what her age, I found that she “liked” to dance more than anything. I am not saying that she wanted to go to class almost every day – just ask her, I would have to sometimes drag her day after day, week after week, feeling just a bit guilty when she would come out of her class nearly in tears for almost a year. Let me explain: in 2009, E was a bit too old to be with the “younger” class but not quite up to speed with the oldest girls. Her teacher moved to the upper level class, where the next youngest dancer was 2 years older than her, but the majority were 4+ years older. They were much more advanced in technique and knowledge, and she felt overwhelmed constantly. What do I do? I talked to her teacher after all her classes (no, not before to take up class time) and she felt that E could do the work, and was too hard on herself – she saw the angst in Es face and was so patient and encouraging to her, trying to tell her not to compare herself with the other girls. So for almost 7 months, it was a battle to get her to go to class, but she (and I) persisted. Why do you ask? Why would I put my little girl through all that? Because her teacher and I knew that once E stopped comparing herself to others, and just worked on her own development as ballerina, that childlike joy of pirouetting and leaping would come back to her – and it do. We have also raised our children that when you commit to something or someone, your word is your pledge to be responsible to complete that promise. We had promised to be at class 3 days a week then, we had promised that E would try her hardest and show her that she isn’t a 12 or 14 year old who has a different body type. We promised E that if she gave her all, her efforts would result in her developing into a better dancer and a person. So far, she doesn’t regret our pushing her past her comfort zone – but ask me when she graduates high school.