Monday, February 9, 2015

Dancing to the Beat of My Own Drummer

Josephine's response to music is undeniable. The instant music comes on, she starts moving to the beat in wild -- yet rhythmic -- motions. Even when she was a baby, music could (almost) always be counted on to calm her down. So between her love of music and the fact that her body exists in seeming perpetual motion, dance classes seemed inevitable.

We're not entirely sure what prompted it, Lambie on DocMcStuffins perhaps, but sometime last fall she started asking for ballet lessons for Christmas. Actually, she started asking for "a tiara, a tutu, and ballet slippers" all in one breath, words smooshing together as if she couldn't get her wish list out fast enough. When anyone asked her what she wanted for Christmas, she'd repeat these requests, always in the same order -- occasionally adding on ballet classes at the end of the list when she remembered what she'd wanted to be using those items for.

She got her wish, and we signed her up for ballet classes. When the day of her first class finally came, I re-read the list of requirements, and my eyes landed on this one: "This class is an independent experience. Parents/caregivers are requested to remain in the hallway so that students may remain focused on instruction. You are welcome to observe from outside the dance room." I knew Josephine would be okay with that -- though I still warned her ahead of time -- and I figured there would be windows for watching, but grabbed my book just in case.

The classes are held in a quaint performing arts center smack-dab in the middle of a neighborhood, a fun little building, but not one designed for class observation. The dance room has double doors for ingress and egress, but they are dark safety glass, lined with wire mesh -- not great for visibility. Plus, there are a dozen small children in the class, which means there are more parents than viewing space.

I peeked in long enough to see that Josephine was running around and having fun, and then sat down on a bench and opened my book to read. It's a great book, I'm completely engrossed in it, but all the same, I found myself having to give myself a pep-talk every few paragraphs.

"It's okay that I'm not standing by the door to watch."

"It's okay to enjoy this time for me."

"It's okay that I am the only one not craning through the dark glass for a glimpse of my little one."

What I wasn't admitting was that I was really telling myself: "I am not a bad parent." It might sound silly (and I did still manage to enjoy my book) but it took work to convince myself that I wasn't going to turn myself into a parent pariah -- the parent that no one wanted to talk to for the remaining nine weeks of class. It took work to remind myself that who I am and my sense of self-worth is not dependent on anyone else's actions or opinions. I think it's okay that I have to keep reminding myself these things -- and I will -- until they are stuck in my head and I no longer give those ideas a second thought.

The second week of class, Josephine once again bounded away to the door the instant her instructor opened it, and I settled down again with my book. Only this time, four other parents sat down away from the glass doors -- and two of them brought books.

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