Disclosure: it is entirely possible that I misinterpreted the other mom in this story. All I can say is, if you recognize yourself here, I’m not calling anybody out or judging. Buh-lieve me, I see the glass all over my own walls, and I am not about to start hurling stones. The incident just gave me an opportunity to write about a Thing That Concerns Me, and hopefully to find out if the TTCM concerns other parents, too.
Last night I took Riya and Karina to a parent-and-child dance class. There was a mix-up at the studio, the scheduled teacher didn’t show, and in order to get the class started on time two teenage girls came in to try to lead. They were unprepared (not their fault), and young (not their fault), and the kids were trying to follow along, but not exactly having fun. One of the other moms evidently has some experience teaching dance, so she took over.
I thought it was nice of her. She had a lot of good ideas, and soon the girls were walking like elephants, and making butterflies with their legs, and generally having a fantastic time.
About 30 minutes into the hour-long class, one of the studio’s regular preschool ballet teachers showed up, having been dragged away from her life in order to help out. She started to teach her usual lesson plan, which didn’t include much involvement for the parents, but again – not her fault. The director of the studio promised us moms that we wouldn’t pay for this session, thanked us for our patience, and assured us that next week the “real” teacher would be there, and she hoped we’d give them another chance. Fine by me – my girls were enjoying the second half of the class as much as the first (in fact it was a lot of what the other mom had done, just with more ballet terminology mixed in), and maybe learning a little ballet in the process. I was happy.
Dance Teacher Mom was not. She muttered things like “this is way too advanced for a three-year-old” and “she is going to fall and get hurt!” At one point, she massaged her temples and almost looked like she was going to cry.
Meanwhile, her daughter was having the time of her life. She couldn’t do the leaps (the “too advanced” part), but she did as well as any of the other students. She made a reasonable – even an impressive – attempt, and did not fall or get hurt in the process.
I know I do this, too. I mean, right this minute I am locked in a Love-&-Logic, you-will-clean-this-up-or-you-will-owe-me battle of wills with my kids, and even though I know I am right about the cleaning up, I think it’s just possible I’ve set my expectations too high and let my emotions rule where I ought to have been focusing on the logic part, and… what was I saying?
Oh, right. Looking at myself right now, and thinking about the other mom last night, I am wondering: In our need to make the most of every minute, in our desire to capture and use every teachable moment, are we unconsciously teaching our kids something else entirely?
True, we cannot go through life following every impulse, avoiding every responsibility, being passive at every turn. You’ll get no argument from me about structure and order and following The Rules. I like The Rules. They make me feel safe. I like action; it makes me feel like I have some control.
But you know what else I like? Seeing Karina The Shy twirl across a ballet studio, watching herself in the mirror, completely un-self-conscious and caring not in the least who else was in the room. She was wonderful and joyful and so thrilled to be there, dancing just like her big sister (who was reveling in being the only student with previous ballet experience) and I would’ve paid the $12 just for that.
(But don’t tell the director. I like free stuff, too.)