Thursday, February 5, 2009

Day 72: Dream a little dream

My oldest daughter went to her first ballet lesson today. I found a *real* ballet class. The kind where the little girls are required to have their hair in a bun, wear ballet slippers that aren't Isotoners, and aren't allowed to wear tutus to practice. The instructor takes this seriously, and it shows in her expectations and her methods. I sat outside in the hallway and watched my little girl with her teacher. I looked at the big blue eyes and the curly hair pinned into a tight little bun. I watched her as she watched herself in the mirror, her little person almost overflowing with excitement.

As I sat there, I wondered if she has it in her to be a dancer. I wonder if, unlike me, this will be a talent she has. I wonder if, instead, I should be enrolling her in ice skating? gymnastics? violin? I'm glad that she's in this ballet class because she asked, on her own, if she could take ballet. I'm glad I didn't suggest it because, I'm afraid, sometimes, that I'll try to live out my own dreams through my kids.

Growing up, I had a poster in my room of ballet slippers. Each January, I bought a new Hallmark "Ballerinas" calendar. I coveted pointe slippers. As I got older, it was the ballerina's muscular back and lean legs that I coveted. So, my junior year of college I enrolled in a college level Beginning Ballet class. I showed up the first day, breathless and excited. I had, in my possession, real dancing shoes. A black leotard. "Theater pink" tights. I walked in the door and sat in a circle with 20 other 20-something girls, all smiling at each other sheepishly. All understanding, without saying it, that we were just trying to live out unfulfilled dreams. (The lone guy in the glass, blushing in his dance cup, seemed to be confused about why he was there. I think he thought it would be a good way to meet girls.) Then, in walked our ruthless instructor who couldn't seem to grasp that none of us even dreamed of having the potential to be prima ballerinas. She called me to the front of the class one day, had me move me feet into first position, and pointed out that since my knees are hyper extended, I could never get more than a B in the class, let alone have any sort of aptitude for dancing. I withdrew from the class shortly thereafter--the end of my dancing career.

So, as I watch my daughter through a glass doorway, as she tendues and plies, I wonder, is it for her or for me? Have you ever wondered anything like it, and about what?


Heather said...

I'm sure you can even imagine the pressure we are unwittingly putting on our kids to be on some varsity athletic team . . . As much as we wish we could say that it wouldn't matter, I'm sure it will. :)

Erin said...

how exciting for the girl to be in ballet.
if this is something she wants then you have nothing to worry about!

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

I've wondered about this, and I try hard not to "convince" them to do something they don't want to do. I guess I want them to be like me, and I consider myself a low-maintenance individual, but that's really an unfair expectation for toddlers, isn't it? Darn.

p.s. I love being a part of this group of commenters; it almost makes me feel "at home."

Nicole B. said...

You poor thing, you were probably traumatized. What a crazy lady. If it makes you feel better, I was singled out in my modern dance class at BYU because of my scoliosis. My back doesn't bend in the middle, so the "head-tail connection" didn't happen so easily. My teacher decided to have the class gather around so everyone could see. Yea for those of us with imperfect bodies. By the way, my elbows hyper-extend, so I would never have made a good cheerleader. Oh well.

ME said...

My own dancing ended in college too. My knees and elbows were alright, I just hated being the fattest one in there and not being able to forget it because there are mirrors everywhere.

And yes. I am fully aware that my own lack of perfection at the piano is the impetus for forcing each of my children to take lessons. I'm fine with it.

Eve said...

Becca - We share this dream! I took the same class in college, coveted a pair of worn pointe slippers and begged my mother to allow me to take ballet when I was little. I signed Anna up when she was 4 for a "real" class where the teacher actually directed the girls, clapped them in time to leap across the room and even gave criticism! Can you imagine? Anna loved the rigidness of it but I never got to observe - only 2 times were the parents allowed to watch their progress. When it was time to sign up for the next year, Anna was indifferent so I decided to save the money and try her at soccer! But *sigh*, I do remember imagining the teacher confronting me to tell me that she had discovered Anna's depth of talent and that she was destined for the stage! :)