Last fall I enrolled Emily (and me) in a "Mommy and Me" dance class. At the time, it seemed like a fun way to have some one-on-one time with her. I definitely wasn't enrolling her with any delusions of having a dance prodigy on my hands nor was I trying to push her into a hobby for my own selfish reasons.
Or was I?
I admit I've done a gut check or two to unpack my reasons for signing Emily up for the class-- beyond the obvious reason that it seemed like fun (because clearly it wasn't always fun).
I think parents walk a fine line between exposing their children to hobbies and extracurricular activities and over-scheduling and/or pigeonholing their young ones into certain hobbies from a young age.
First, I think we all want our children to have varied experiences, especially ones that we didn't have or ones that were important to us growing up. I can admit that I want Emily to at least have the chance to try dance. By the time my parents could afford for me to go (sometime around 4th grade), my natural clumsiness had taken root. I felt awkward, out of place, and timid on the dance floor, and many years later, that feeling hasn't changed. I don't think it makes me an overbearing mom to give her the opportunity to try dance and try it early--when she is just as forgetful and flighty as all the other little girls. When, forgive the pun, she is on equal footing with everyone else...
At the same time, I want Emily to find her own way--even if that means choosing not to be a dancer. While we persevered last season and kept going despite the hard weeks, I never felt I was damaging her. If I had felt her fickleness was due to anything other than being a toddler, I would have sucked up the tuition fee and the recital costume and quit. But, I admit, I often questioned whether I was doing the right thing...
With those doubts, going into this year, I still wasn't convinced we would try another toddler dance class. I was still eying that fine line, still wondering if my own inadequacies as a dancer were pushing me to send her back, still wondering if even attempting a class at this age amounted to undo stress, still wondering if I was trying to make a dancer out of a would-be ______________.
So we waited.
And, that's when our dancer appeared.
In January, Emily started asking to go to dance class. Out of the blue, she announced,
"I want to go to dance class. I want a tutu."
Still skeptical, we tried a free trial class.
And, once again, there was our dancer.
If I hadn't known any better, I would have thought Emily had been in the class since September with the rest of the girls.
After a couple of minutes of mommy-clinging, she looked at home in the class. She vacillated between wandering aimlessly and practicing her plié, gazing at herself in mirror and sashaying across the floor, giggling with her new friends and breaking out her best zoo animal moves. By the time she log-rolled off the gymnastic mat at the end of the 30 minute class, I knew this year was going to be different from the last.
Seeing my little girl dance. Seeing my little girl dance because she enjoys it.
Makes me smile like peas and cheese.