For the past eight weeks, I have diligently brought The Caterpillar to dance class once a week. The Dormouse has fallen comfortably into several extra-curricular activities she likes to do and at which she excels. Until recently, however, The Caterpillar, simply followed her around, trying to do what her sister does and pretty much hating it the whole time. She gave karate a shot, but gave up when the class was aimed at a child with a longer attention span. She wanted desperately to play the violin, so I rented her one, but that didn't really take either. She liked getting it out of the case and putting it back in, but that was about it. So when she started to get excited about dance, it was actually pretty cool. We gave her dance lessons for Christmas and she started in January with our total support despite my overall cluelessness where such things as dance are concerned.
I would have to say that the very worst thing about these girls getting older and wanting to do their own activities is that you have to bring them to their activities. The bringing part I actually do not mind, but the part where you sit on the sidelines with the other parents who are also the bringers and on the sidelines... and then you have to deal with those parents on the sidelines by... talking to them and stuff? Yeah, that part not so much. Despite the fact that we all have the hardest job in the world and should totally understand and support each other if there are days when we're just not at our best, parents can be ridiculously judgmental of other parents. And since I'm the kind of person who doesn't really like small talk, I tend to just stand quietly next to other parents listening to them while they are having their parent conversations, which are often about a whole other parent and how poor a job that parent is doing and I think to myself, "Wow, remind me never to try and be friends with YOU. Oh wait. I've already got that covered."
But despite my dislike of play date companions and karate Dads and Hockey Moms and piano recital attendees, we have dutifully brought both The Shortlings to their events multiple times each week.
Greater love hath no mom than this, that she drive all over town for her girls.
The problem with The Caterpillar's dance class is they don't allow parents in the room to watch. There's a lobby where the parents can wait and chat, but they close the door to the dance room and draw the curtains so I can't even look through the window and pretend I'm so entranced with the dancing that I didn't know there are other humans in the room. So since I cannot watch her in class and since I do not enjoy sitting in the lobby talking to parents about which PTA mom is a not doing her fair share and why little Janie's mom knows so much more about how to run a fundraising program than that random leader and if you don't believe that, ask little Janie's mom, she'll tell you.... I tend to quietly wander off and explore the nearby antique district while The Caterpillar is in her class so I can get myself as far away from those parents as I possibly can.
All that is to explain why I don't really know a lot about what she's been doing in dance class. So last week when it was parents' week, we got to attend the show AND bring our cameras.
Not ten minutes had elapsed when I realized, "Oh yeah... THAT'S why they don't want the parents in there." The kids simply could not focus and most spent their time running back and forth to their moms to complain of sore feet (the dance instructor kept suggesting "maybe mom will give you a foot rub after class," which I thought was pretty devious on her part), others spent their time mugging for the cameras, while still others just curled up into a ball on the floor or put themselves into the shoe cubbies (mine was guilty of that one).
Despite all that, I couldn't be happier with The Caterpillar's motivation for this new activity. During the week, I'll catch her in the kitchen practicing the steps. Or I'll look over my shoulder in the car and see that she's taken her shoes off and is making her shoes do the dance steps to the "Lemon Drop Stomp" song on her lap. She's a bit younger than most of the other kids in her class - she should really be in the younger group, but our schedules weren't compatible - and she has a little bit of trouble with some of the coordination requirements, but she's keeping up nicely and doing her best. She seems to be reveling in having found her very own thing to do apart from what her sister is doing and whenever she goes to put on her tap shoes, she seems to grow three inches, two and a half of which is self-confidence.
Plus, she reminds me of those Edgar Degas paintings whenever she dances around the room.