Caroline had her first ballet recital on Friday night. She’s taken 13 weeks of classes and she’s only three and half, which means about 75% of the performance was her staring into the wings to watch the teacher and 25% was her screaming the words to “Deep In The Heart Of Texas” with a giant, dramatic point at the audience for every “Texas!!!!!!!”
That was pretty standard for the entire class, although there were a couple of girls who you can imagine on So You Think You Can Dance in 15 years (or whatever the 2030 equivalent is – So You Managed To Not Let Technology and Common Core Ruin Your Life And Are Capable Of Expressing Emotion With Your Movement Directly Into Our Brains??). They’ll say things like “I’ve always loved being on the stage” and “I can just feel the music and connect with it naturally.”
Caroline will probably not be that girl. I mean, this is a really early prediction and far be it from me to crush her dreams in any way and if she wanted to spend the next decade in dance classes I will be NOTHING but supportive. But I do not thing dance is going to be her thing.
Dress rehearsal was…long. And a little stressful. The class is through a local town’s parks & rec department but the instructor REALLY wants the kids to do a good job so she can be capital-I Intense. There may have been some yelling because the 3 year olds didn’t have the laces on their ballet shoes tucked in. There was some public scolding about an improper hair clip. The teacher is basically a SAINT for dealing with. like, 100 kids whose parents don’t care enough to pay for fancy dance but want a recital anyway, but even saints lose their shit a little bit right before curtain.
By the end of rehearsal, when all Caroline had left to do was the Hokey Pokey with the rest of the little kid classes, she lost it. She was the kid – the only kid – who ran off stage crying that she wanted her mommy and didn’t like dance anymore. I left Evan to misbehave in the audience while I tried to coax Caroline back on stage.
When I say “coax”, I mean I tried every single thing I could think of that didn’t involve physically dragging her on stage and leaving her there. I told her she needed to be a big girl. I told her she could quit if she wanted to and we could go home. I told her she was being ridiculous. I promised her ice cream if she would JUST STOP freaking out. I told her everyone got scared before they went on stage and it was totally OK and I loved her no matter what. I told her dancing was FUN and she LOVED dancing and why didn’t she want to do some FUN DANCING on the stage?
I don’t really know what my parenting style might be called, but it is definitely not “consistent”. I have no idea what I am doing.
The next night, before the actual performance, she threw a fit again. I was supposed to drop her off with her class back stage but every time I tried to leave her eyes filled with tears. There was an incident with her hair bow (apparently it was on the wrong side and needed to be moved despite the fact that no one had EVER said ANYTHING about WHICH SIDE it needed to be on before WHATEVER I DON’T CARE) and she started crying again. I went back to comfort her (mistake!) and she started the clinging/crying/yet insisting she DID want to dance cycle all over.
I left. I sat in the audience with all my crossables crossed that she at least WENT on stage, even if she just stood there.
And she did great! Once she was out on the stage under the lights she performed and hammed it up and blew kisses. She loved the applause and the cheering and being the center of attention. She did both routines as perfectly as I could have hoped from a 3 year old. It was adorable.
But even though it ended well, I’m not sure how I feel about signing her for more classes. I don’t want to be the mom who pushes her kid to perform when she doesn’t want to. I didn’t like snapping at her not to mess up her hair or smush her skirt. I am embarrassed that I was embarrassed when she was upset and even though she knows I am SO proud of her I don’t want her to feel disappointed in herself if she messes up. I loved dance class when I was a kid but never really loved the recital part. To this day I have that nightmare where you show up backstage and realize you have NO idea how the routine goes.
I am probably (definitely) overthinking this. Caroline is 3. If she says she wants to take ballet again in the fall, she can take ballet again in the fall. If she DOESN’T want to do the recital next June, she doesn’t have to do the recital. I do not have to have a philosophical discussion with myself over Intro Ballet or Beginner Tap and whether or not I am turning into a crazy Dance Mom after ONE recital. If you ask Caroline right now if she liked performing she will say “YES!” and shout at you about the stars at night and their largeness and brightness. That’s really what matters. But I think I learned something about myself and my parenting I am not sure I’m totally sure I like what I learned.
Let’s ignore my poor parenting and just squee over how adorable my daughter is instead.
Adorable cowgirl themed finale costume handmade by me…HAHAHAHAHA NO, I bought it on Etsy. I could have tried to find her some jeans and a bandanna but this was easier to do from the couch.