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.
…and, perhaps, contributed to my growing awkwardness.
Ali, however, is quite graceful.
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.
(It looked nothing like any of the seven illustrations)
And wondering if our shade of pink tights was all wrong.
(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.
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.”
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.
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.
…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…
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.