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?