Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Immediately following our carnival debacle on Saturday, I had the profound pleasure of taking Sophie to her first ever ballet lesson. I have to admit, we were both pretty excited. Sophie was dressed in her pale pink leotard and ballet shoes with her white tights. She was all legs....long and lean. The picture-perfect dancer's body. We left the carnival and she excitedly chattered all the way to the school where we would have her ballet lessons. What does the school look like? Is my teacher a boy or a girl? I don't think boys can do ballet. Are all of the girls four like me? On and on, nonstop, until we finally arrived at the school.

We entered the school and were directed to a lunch room where the ballet lessons were being held. There were two other little girls there already. Sophie ran in circles and giggled and danced around with the little girls while we waited. I took this as a sign that we would have a wonderful ballet experience. Little did I know that hell was lurking right around the corner.

The teacher arrived a few minutes late and immediately issued an apology for being late. She was a middle-aged woman with anything BUT a dancer's body. She appeared flustered, but I got the impression she was one of those people who are terminally flustered. She spoke in a sing-songy voice with excessive flourish when she pronounced the names of the ballet moves. She quickly announced that parents were going to be required to sit in the hallway outside of the room during the lesson. We would be allowed in on the last day of class for the children to show us what they had learned. Oh, great, I thought. This is not going to go over well with my uber-clingy daughter. Sure enough, I looked down to see Sophie staring up at me with a look of panic in her eyes.

The teacher shuffled the parents out of the room and asked the seven girls and one cute little curly-haired boy to sit in a circle. Sophie refused. She clung to me for dear life. She rebuffed all attempts at eye contact from the teacher by burying her head in my belly. I do so love when my kids call attention to my belly by attaching themselves to it. After several minutes of me trying to pry her skinny little arms from my body, the teacher announced that it would be okay for me to sit against the cafeteria wall until Sophie was more comfortable with the class. I assumed this would be the fix we needed. I assumed wrong.

Sophie wanted me to sit in the circle with her. I refused, as I was most certainly not a ballet student. I assured her I would be sitting right there against the wall watching her, but she still refused to join the group. The teacher then told Sophie that it would be perfectly fine if she sat with mommy on the wall, and she could join the group whenever she felt like joining in. We sat there for a long time. It came as no surprise to me that Sophie never felt the need to join the group. She was content lounging around in my lap watching. However, I did not pay good money for a leotard and lessons for Sophie to sit on the sidelines watching. I tried encouraging her. I tried coddling her. I tried threatening her. Nothing worked. She merely pointed her chin at the ceiling and issued a terse, "No."

Finally, the teacher announced, "Mom, I am sorry, but it looks like you are going to have to join our group, too, for Sophie to participate." That's right...I had to join the circle and participate in the ballet lesson. As anyone who knows me is well aware, I have exactly zero grace, absolutely no coordination, and utterly nonexistent agility. Besides that, I was dressed in blue jeans and Nike tennis shoes. Perhaps I would have felt better if I had been wearing a tutu, but I suspect not.

I stood beside Sophie and attempted to do the ballet moves, positions, and techniques with her. I "made diamonds" with my legs. However, my plies were accompanied by the distinct crackling and popping of my knees. Every time I tried to point to the side with my toes, I would topple to the left or the right. Several time, I barely missed crushing tiny little toes in ballet shoes. I apparently have lost the ability to tippy-toe. When I tried, I inevitably tumbled forward. I was a picture of complete awkwardness. A billboard for gawky incompetence. And that was just the ballet portion of the class. When they pulled out the tap shoes, the class nose-dived into new, uncharted depths of hellishness.

In the end, Sophie participated only nominally in the class. Each and every time the teacher asked the class to raise their arms above their heads or out to their sides, Sophie refused, complaining, "That's not very comfortable." The only part of the class that interested her at all was the leaps. When she was allowed to run and jump, she actually smiled. Throughout the rest of the class, she stood there with a permanent scowl on her face.

When all was said and done and we were leaving the building, Sophie broke her self-induced silence and began chattering incessantly again. When we arrived home, she gushed at Ruanita about how much she loved ballet. What the hell?! Every day since then, she has asked me when she gets to go back to ballet. I think my daughter may have a multiple personality disorder. Perhaps we should have named her Sybil instead of Sophie.

All I know is that I am NOT dancing next Saturday.


Angie Rehnelt said...

OMG Shannon! I can't believe the class was put on like that. Is there a dance studio near you where you could consider her trying a class through them? At the studio where Ashlie dances, parents can look through the huge windows (or stay in the room too). You put her in this class to help her social skills, right? Maybe she will warm up to it after a few more times? Do you think she'd have any interest in a kids drama class or an art class? Those are classes I did for Ash (b/c we have the social issues too) through Community Ed. Too bad you don't live closer to Lakeville or I would totally recommend the dance studio we go to!! I was wondering how ballet went and I am SO sorry to hear it didn't go well! :( Keep us posted on her progress!!!

Jessica said...

Glad I'm not the only one with crazy children. ;) Can't wait to her about your next lesson...

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