It’s that time of year again for almost all studios across the country – the end of year performance time. And for most high schoolers, it’s also finals time. And for parents, it’s trying to keep the family calendar from becoming a huge piece of abstract art: end of year concerts, art shows, award nights, banquets, exams, papers, projects, etc. And for our family, the added stress of being the busiest time of year for our hardware store. I admire parents with big families in multiple schools and activities around this time of year. Now having our oldest in college, it has become easier, except for when he comes home and “there’s no food in the house”on a daily basis and the bathroom is always being occupied.
So this post isn’t about anything specific with E this time, but as a help (I hope) to parents of aspiring ballerinas with too much on their plates. First – breath before you act/react. Everyone is going through something, and the level of angst may be hidden but there may be a tumult in the inside. If you see that your dancer is stressed over all the different directions the family are being pulled in at once, it’s your job to help him/her learn to manage that stress. Maybe there’s a huge essay due for english class, or self-initiated pressure on the end of season performance, or a friendship that is not very healthy. I want to encourage parents to stay connected and in tune with the many aspects of your dancer’s life. “They’re just teenagers, what do they have to stress about?” It seems like a lot more than when we were that age. You too might be feeling the pressure with being taxi service, planning different meal times, work, school activities, other kids, family obligations, etc.
So my second suggestion is to take some time and be silly, watch a really bad movie, treat you and your dancer to a massage or manicure, laugh out loud, write a blog post. “But I don’t have time for that.” Take 30-60 minutes from your week and make the time: those little de-stressing activities will go a long way, for both of you. We try to have a fire in our backyard at least once a week at night this time of year to unplugged from the tv, cell phones, dirty dishes, piles of laundry and hours of homework. Just an hour to talk as a family, watch the stars, listen to the crickets, enjoy the flames and decompress. And let yourself and your dancer (especially if he/she is a teenager) to be honest with each other – what is causing stress, what should be pushed aside for a bit, what has to be prioritized, what is exciting that is coming up this summer, what is worrying them, and you. Don’t ever forget, you are in this ride together – so take the time to remember these times, to be silly together and make some stress-free memories. Then, when you are both older, you can look back and laugh about how you were worried about something that didn’t need to be worried about.