Thursday, March 2, 2017

Princess Ballerina in the Making

Dakota started asking about ballet a few months ago but when she originally asked about going she wanted to wait until she was 13 to start. So, she was basically "asking for a friend" if you know what I mean. We talked about it a lot after that initial conversation and as we talked her interest grew. I got a couple library books about ballet and tap dancing and she watched an episode or two of Angelina Ballerina which helped her come to the conclusion that she was ready to be a ballerina now instead of years down the road.

So, I found a class offered through our county recreation and parks office and signed her up. I chose a morning class for her because everyone else is at school at that time and she is so exhausted in the afternoon's I didn't think she could handle a later class. Her class begins at 9:45 am and lasts 45 minutes which works out perfectly with our schedules.

I'll admit that I may have been just a tad hesitant to sign her up because of how she has reacted to new things in the past but a greater part of me wanted to jump on any interest she showed right away to try to foster her independence. Before I signed her up for the class I told her that she would be in the room with other children and the teacher and that I'd be outside the class waiting for her. She wasn't deterred by that when I told her so I went ahead with it.

We went out to buy her leotards, tights and ballet slippers earlier this week and she has been counting down the days for her first class since. She has been extremely excited and has been showing me her best spins and leaps all week.

Today was the big day and my stomach was in knots. I imagined crying and pleading and hysteria so when she was tightly holding onto my thigh as the teacher gave us paperwork I just knew it was going to be a struggle; but then it wasn't. The teacher explained that the parents were to wait outside while they danced and with that we were pointed in the direction of the door...and we went. As I walked out the door I glanced over my shoulder and saw my baby sitting in a circle with a bunch of other 4 year old girls she didn't know and she wasn't crying. The teacher was talking and she was listening, not running after me in fear, crying for me to just stay with her, hold her hand, just take her home.

I walked out into the lobby and sat down and I'd be lying if I said I was relieved. I couldn't relax because I was just waiting for her to come bursting through the door crying, needing me to help her through her anxiety. Needing me to talk to her, hold her, take her home... It took everything I had not to get up and stand at that glass door and watch her and I willed my butt to just stay sitting and not interfere. Let her be. Let her grow.

When there was only about 5 minutes of class left I allowed myself a peek through the door. I walked up tentatively and tried to find a spot where I could maybe watch her without her seeing me, but it's just two glass doors, nowhere to hide.  I saw her following instructions. I saw her imitating the teacher and cautiously watching the other girls in her class. I saw her find my eyes through the glass, give me the tiniest smile and then continue on with what she was doing. That was when I was flooded with relief. I felt so proud and like I could just burst with joy!

When the class ended she patiently waited for her sticker and then followed the rest of the class out the door and into the lobby where all of the parents were waiting. She'd loved it. She had gathered all of her courage and she'd done it. She'd dreamed it, believed it and met the challenge head on. My kids make me incredibly proud and this moment is one I think I'll hold dear to my heart for a long time. It's been such a struggle, her anxiety.

I am cautiously optimistic that we've gotten through the rough parts of her anxiety and with age and experience, I believe she's getting better. I know that it won't always be smooth sailing and she'll still have moments of uncertainty, but I hope that I'll always be able to help her work through it and bust down all the doors she imagines before her.

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