Attempts at Being a Dance Mom.

I was never a girly-girl.

Not that I was necessarily a tomboy – just lost somewhere in the awkward in-between.  While all of my friends were gracefully flitting about in their ballet classes, I was playing softball – and loving it.  My left-handed status gave me special privileges, so despite my lack of exceptional skills, I got to hold down the coveted positions of first base and pitcher.

Softball fit me.

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…and, perhaps, contributed to my growing awkwardness.

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Ali, however, is quite graceful.

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And seeing as how she’s going to be a ballerina (formerly of the princess variety) when she grows up, we decided that this was the year to allow her to start her vocational training.

So we signed up, we waited breathlessly for over a month to hear of our acceptance into the coveted program, and then she and I began to study The Ballet Manual.

But it is no ordinary manual.  It is sixteen pages long, and often refers to another sixteen-page long Informational Brochure.

There is a page and a half of instructions on how to make the proper ballet bun, including seven illustrations.

A grid is provided with exactly what color of tights, shoes, leotards, and skirts that must be worn dependent on age.

And, the part that had me most troubled, there was an expansive amount of instructions for parents regarding their location before, during, and after class.

“When arriving, wait in the dressing room with your ballerina until the instructor retrieves them.”

“Do not wait in the hallways for your ballerina.” – this instruction was repeated several times, so I assumed that it must be important.

“Please do not let your other children run in the hallways.”

“Please do not let your other children play on the grass.”

“Please do not let your other children play on the playground if students are present.”

“If you must wait on campus during class, you may wait in the dressing room.”

“No boys – even little brothers – are allowed in the dressing room…no matter what age.”

I read and re-read my manual, trying to figure out exactly where I was supposed to wait, seeing as how I would always have my miniature male sidekick with me.

I didn’t mind leaving campus during class sometimes, but where can one go in 50 minutes?  And still, I would have to wait for her class to finish somewhere, right?  Especially since they also said quite stringently not to be late to pick up your ballerina.

I showed up to the first week of ballet, intimidated, confused and fearful, and ashamed of my rather haphazard ballet bun attempts.

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(It looked nothing like any of the seven illustrations)

And wondering if our shade of pink tights was all wrong.

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(If only they’d given the HEX codes for the exact color they desired)

But most importantly, wondering The Big Question:

WHAT AM I TO DO WITH MY SON??

I tip-toed to the door of the dressing room.  Only the bottom half of the split door was closed, and there was another toddler boy running around within.  Going against every fiber of my rule-following nature, I walked into the changing room – 21 month old of the Male Variety in my arms – to help Ali get ready for Ballet.

I looked left and right, waiting for a siren to go off.

None did.

I warily allowed Noah to play while we waited on Ali’s teacher, and tried to mimic the other parents in my actions, desperately hoping to blend in but knowing my efforts were in vain, seeing as how Noah was not wearing one tiny bit of smock.

Ali was thrilled, and even had a friend in her class.  With her vocational dreams coming alive before her eyes, she could be nothing but ecstatic.

On the way home, as Ali glowed in all of the glory of Ballerina Pinkness in the back seat, I got a phone call from the ballet office.

oh no oh no oh no….

“We have Ali down as being in the Wednesday class, but you brought her to the Thursday class.”

Seriously?

There is no way that I’m that incompetent.

“I’m nearly positive that my email said we were in the Thursday class.”

“Let me pull it up…. …. …. no, I see it right here – it says Wednesday.  And both classes are full, so we need you to go to the Wednesday class.”

I went home and searched through my email archives for the class assignment email.

How did they break into my email account and replace the original email with this Wednesday one??

But alas.  I had done the unthinkable.  Made a horrible mistake on the first day of my daughter’s career.

I shamefully emailed the parent of Ali’s friend-in-the-Thursday-class and told her we would not be back because I was a freaking idiot.  Then I tried cheering Ali up with, “Well this way, you only have to wait SIX more days until your next class!!!”

The next week, we arrived on the correct day, and I humbly apologized to the new teacher for my gross mistakes.

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We seemed to have done everything right that week, but there was a ballet instructor in the dressing room who made it quite clear with her impressively communicative eyes that my son was not to enter.

So I timidly pushed my luck and allowed Noah to play outside on the stairs – after all, nothing was said about concrete spaces.

On week three, everything was going well again – until we arrived and realized that we had forgotten our ballet slippers.

So my ballerina had to go to class in her properly pink leotard, properly pink tights, proper lack of skirt, and glittery purple and black Converse sneakers.

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…which they promptly asked her to remove.  And asked her to never forget her shoes again.

On Week Four, we made it to the proper class with the proper shoes in our possession and determined to not ruin the ambiance of the dressing room.

So Noah and I headed to the stairs to play again.

But someone else had already beaten us there…

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Even though it ruined our ability to play there (because Noah would have totally wanted to experiment with the carcass), I immediately relaxed with relief from my performance-driven anxiety.  Because I know there had to have been something in the rulebook about that, which means that I’m not the only one struggling to find my place in this world.

Birds Dying on Sidewalks
With the bird on my side, Week Five is going to be so much better.

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Comments

  1. Kitty Engle says:

    OK. 1. I love the precious picture of you in your softball uniform since I have never seen that side of you. 2. You know you love me so do not hate me….but….the second picture of you is darling especially the Greek eyebrows you got going on. 3. Ali’s bun looks great to me. With all that hair to control you did a great job. 4. Ali looks beautiful and happy in her pick tights. 5. Love the look on Ali’s face when she (or Mommy) forgot her shoes. 6. I could done with the picture of the dead bird. 7. What in the world are you supposed to do with your little male sidekick? Great post full of the charms of trying to get your daughter to her chosen profession. Will she now be a balerina princess? Oops that will not work because Ethan is not a prince yet. Confusing situation.

  2. Rachel, I can completely relate! BOTH of my girls are in ballet. I had hope one or both may not want to but they both are THRIVING and having only played soccer and run track growing up I am out of my element!! That ballet bun is tough! Some weeks I knock it out of the ballpark and some weeks I shamefully send one or both to class with a FAR from perfect “cinnamon bun” ( our ballet mistress specifically said it should be flat agains the head like a cinnamon bun.) My only saving grace is that my husband danced for 15 years and so all the 40-something women who run the studio look at him like he is some sort of Demi pointe- god!! They think that since he danced I must have danced too!! I am afraid to tell them the truth !!

  3. Love it! I tried to be a dance mom for 2 years and I hated it! I was never happier than when she tried karate, fell in love with it and told me “I don’t think I want to take ballet anymore!” Good luck!!

  4. Hair tip from a former dance mom:-

    Find the hair nets (yep they have them) at your local drugstore. After you have fixed Ali’s bun, wrap the hair net over it a few times then wind it around and secure with a bobby pin.

    Our dance studio used to have a waiting room that the troublesome little brothers could play/attack each other in!

    Have fun!

    • YES – hair nets were prescribed in the manual. However, the dance store (which was also specifically prescribed) was out the day we went. I suppose we’ll need to make another visit…

  5. This is why I love your blog…your take on life is just always entertaining! I ditto the comment on the hair net…helps a TON! Also, (from experience) the best way to get the bun to lay down super flat is to pin it as you go, not just around the outside once it’s wrapped. I’m sure doing it on little girl hair is not easy, though.

    • Is it supposed to be super flat at this unnamed ballet school? Perhaps I read the instructions all wrong, but the illustrations seemed to suggest a more Tinkerbell-like bun.

      And, for the record, I was hoping that you would have the answer as to what I was supposed to do with my son.

  6. I’m pretty sure I know where your dance class is and they are pretty strict about stuff. Ali looks adorable though!

  7. In similar fashion to the email, I can’t even recall how many times I have gone shopping and bought specific things, like Coffee-mate French Vanilla creamer that my hubby uses, only to find when I got home that it had changed into FAT FREE Coffee-mate French Vanilla creamer which he does NOT use, or the low calorie Gatorade morphed into a high calorie Gatorade, etc. I swear I look these things over and make sure I am buying the right thing, so it must be on the way home that some dastardly magic occurs.
    When I tell my hubby this, he just laughs and still won’t use the fat free creamer.

  8. What about putting a couple of pretty barrettes in Noah’s hair and dressing him in a girly or at least gender neutral color while you are there on ballet day. You could call him Nora while you’re there… he wouldn’t be too confused would he? Perhaps they won’t remember him from weeks previous, and he’s young enough he won’t remember in years to come. And think of the blackmail potential any photos you might take will have in 10 years! (Sorry, Noah, just kidding!)

    • Hm… but just think of the uproar if the Ballet Police discovered my deceit. I’d be flogged with a dozen dead birds!!

    • plantingoaks says:

      This was my thought. What a dumb rule! Who cares at that age – are they doing diaper checks or something?

      You said the only person you knew was on the other day, so if anyone notices just deadpan ‘no, you must be misremembering, I’ve always had two girls’

      …sorry, this is my annoying side, I never do these things, I just stew over them inside my head.

  9. funny. what a strict place! i would be intimidated too. i love the picture of ali in her converses like she’s so disappointed. ha! samuel would have wanted to play with the carcass as well. i would like evie to take a dance class b/c she dances all over the house, but she says, “No, I only dance at home.” she has a friend in a class and that might be an in for her in the future. but it’s so expensive! ug.

  10. Melanie Miller says:

    Oh my goodness, this is a funny post. Good job on stretching yourself for your daughter’s dream. Has anyone asked the head ballet nazi, I mean instructor, what to do with the male sidekick? Goodness, that is very strict!

  11. Too funny! I just showed up at a client meeting a week early so I feel your pain…

    Does Ali’s Thursday ballet friend have any idea about what to do with male sidekicks? Maybe her mom could ask on your behalf, without mentioning names…

    Seems strange though. Most dance studios around here are very keen to encourage male dancers. I assume this one does not, or they would have a place for the boys.

  12. This post makes me wish that my mom would’ave agreed to sign me up for ballet classes, Rachel. :) She had me take piano lessons instead. Your little munchkin looks absolutely adorable in her “pinks”, and I hope that next week goes smoother for you all! lol!

    xoxo laurie

  13. You have my sympathies. Last Thursday I considered cancelling my son’s Drs appointment because I had a ton of stuff to do, and he was still recovering from a cold and it was to be a flu shot visit, but Dr Google said it should be fine. My younger son was super cranky and fell asleep abnormally early, so instead of the expected struggle of trying to keep him awake till the drive home so we could maybe squeeze in a nap, I had to wake him up after a half hour nap to load everyone into the car. I proudly managed to get there only 3 minutes late and sign in, only to be told 5 minutes later that my appointment was actually for the following Wednesday.

    So I wasted an hour of my time, woke a sleeping kid from a nap, and gave up the opportunity to get work done during nap time. And the worst part, is that like you, when I got home I found they’d broken in and switched the original appoitnment paper that had clearly said Thursday for one that said the following Wed.

    And then I had to mess with naptime again the following week to get the actual appointment in!

  14. I cannot tell you how much I love this! I’ve been dancing since I was 4 and hope to inflict the same fate on my future children (here’s hoping I have at least 1 daughter…). It’s so funny the things that dance studios make you do. They are always so strict, but I loved growing up doing dance. I could not be happier. I’m still 22 and dancing everyday. I wish your adorable daughter the very best in ballet! And thanks you, as always, for your wonderful humor in this post. :)

  15. Leanna Thompson says:

    Warning this does not pertain to this post.

    Hello fellow left handed one!!!!!!!

    Are people confused in your kitchen?

    My hubby is left handed too. People (right handed ones) always look for glasses and silverware in the wrong place at my house.

    Are Ali or Noah left handed? Our oldest is a little ambidextrous (like me – I bowl and throw right handed) and our youngest is totally right handed. My hubby’s mom had 4 children two right handed girls and 2 left handed boys. Both my parents are right handed and so is my only brother.

    People say this “You know left handed people are in thier right mind.” to me all the time. (Not funny.)

    Have a good day!!!!

    • Ali is definitely not, and Noah appears to not be – this makes me sad – I wanted a left-handed child!

      And no, people don’t seem to be confused by my kitchen, but I know what you mean.

  16. Gosh, ballet sounds terrifying. I just got done watching Breaking Pointe about professional ballerina and so wanted to get my daughter into it…but after reading this I am too scared. HA!

    Your little girl sure makes an adorable ballerina. This may have already been said, but you are aware there are bun discs to make the perfect ballet bun right? It is so easy to do Ali could eventually do it herself. You can buy this little donut at any hair store OR just cut the toe off a sock and roll it into itself until you create said donut. Then make a pony, slip the pony over the donut, pull hair around donut and start rolling the ends down until you reach the crown and viola, a perfect ballet bun. :) Pinterest sock bun and you will get a much better tutorial. :)

    • I’m scared to use the bun discs since they gave such detailed instructions! I just keep practicing the ballet buns. Last week’s was beautiful – this week’s was horrid.

  17. I’m in the same boat. My 7 year old started ballet this year. I did not take dance as a child. I did not like the color pink as a child. I have never in my life been graceful or girly. This has been a growing experience.

    Thankfully, at my daughter’s school, buns are only required for recitals. Ponytails are fine for class. Which is good, because with my daughter’s stacked bob(!), I’m doing good to accomplish that. The reason she has this style is so I DON’T have to do her hair. We’re hoping it grows a lot by recital time. =)

  18. Oh the joys of being a dance mom. I miss those days. Well your daughter looks beautiful in all her pinkness.

  19. This had me lol-ing. I swear, some places that are supposedly designed to service children make absolutely no allowances for MORE children. Sometimes I feel like I am the only parent of multiple children out there. Granted, I have 4, but STILL! Every school function, children’s choir function, music lesson, etc I struggle with what to you with the younger kids. And as the oldest is 10 and the youngest still 2, it is a challenge! At least our Gymnastics/Dance studio is a bit more lenient and has a waiting room, but I just drop her off for the 50 minutes and run other errands. Nothing is worse than a waiting room with 3 kids for an hour!

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