Maggie Makes Four!

This journal started off documenting the adoption of our youngest daughter. It now follows the twist and turns of our lives as we raise these two amazing little creatures into the best women they can become.

Friday, August 07, 2009

What's a mother to do?

Well, La Nina is one week into her 2009-2010 dance season. She only had about 33 days off between seasons, but she was very ready to get back into the studio. Her first day in class she learned that we had passed on letting her participate in the studio's big production number and she's been mad as a hornet ever since.

Our studio's production number is quite a spectacle. It includes about 40 dancers ranging in age from 7 to 18. The girls practice together from about an hour a week and sometimes they have weekend practices as well. Usually our studio production number wins all kinds of awards. For La Nina, participating in this dance is recognition that she is no longer a little girl dancer. It screams that she's made it.

Our reasons for refusing the offer were quite simple. She's 7 and we felt 4 days of dance every week was too much. She already dances 3 days a week and I just wasn't ready to toss her in there with the teens. (I will say they are very nice girls...but still) She sees things a bit different. According to her, it's not fair that her friend (only one, I might add) is allowed to dance with the big girls and she is not. She's been carrying on all week about this terrible decision we've made and the lack of fairness in her life. Finally we told her case closed, no more discussion, but she still stewed in silence.
Fast forward to today. She had a friend over playing for most of the day. Of course, she forced her soccer playing friend into one of her old dance costumes and spent most of the day teaching the poor child an old routine...but whatever. They had fun. Tonight when I was tucking her into bed, I asked her if she had fun today. She agreed it was great to spend the day with her buddy. I pointed out to her the girls in the production number had a 4 hour rehearsal today and if she was in the production number, she couldn't have had the play date.

Her response: I'd rather dance than play. She said this in a tone that was completely matter of fact. I have no doubt she was telling me the truth. There wao manipulation attempted and intended. She then told me next year, she wants to do not only the production number but a competitive ballet piece (lyrical, for those of you familiar with dance). And while my head screamed "no way, kid," my mouth said we'll see.

The truth is I want her to be a little girl who happens to dance for a few more years, not a dancer who happens to be a little girl. However, she's definitely driving this cart hard down the dance path and at some point, we're going to have let her really explore this passion, I just hope it isn't next year. As it is, we've forced her to give up piano and soccer for dance. She was happy to oblige. She told me the other day, she'd give up school and her friends for dance if we let her. And I think she meant it.

I know there are some kids who find a passion very young and never waiver. I remember my friend's son at 3 being obsessed with basketball. At 13, he's playing on a State AAU team. My neighbor's son has never played any sport but baseball, by his choice, not theirs. Several of her dance teachers have told me they never tried other activities...not because their parents didn't encourage other activity, but because they had no interest in anything but dance. I hear all these stories and I think, sure that can happen. I just never thought it would be my kid and I'm really starting to fear it is.

My worries about this are so many. I'm worried she will burn out too young if she gets into deep to fast. I worry she'll get some sort of overuse injury if we let her dance without enough rest. I worry she'll miss out on little girl things like play dates and spontaneous trips to ice cream after school. Then I worry what happens if she changes her mind at 12 and regrets missing so many things when she was young. At the same time, what if she's creating the childhood she wants? And what if her vision of childhood only includes dance studios? What if she wants to pursue a career in dance as a studio owner or give Broadway a shot? Should we really be constraining her at 7 when the sky should be the limit? I think 7 is young, but then what is the right age? 9? 12? Man, it's tough.

I've always said I would support a child's passion and I mean it from the bottom of my heart. I support her wholeheartedly. And as she gets older, if she continues down this path, I see sending her to summer workshops and national competitions, if that's what she wants to do. But at 7, I wish she'd just slow down and enjoy being 7. She's got the rest of her life to pursue this whole dance thing.


  • At 9:09 PM , Blogger Chris Ayers & Kelly Kline said...

    These are tough questions! The one thing I've learned so far is that you never really know how you will react in one of these situations until you find yourself in it. There is a constant balancing act between your gut, what you know about your child, and then the actual reality of living out the decisions. Ultimately, it all sort of works itself out, but it's definitely a process!

  • At 4:47 AM , Blogger Debbie said...

    There is a blog called Lawyerish and she used to be passionate about dance as a little girl. Maybe you can ask her her views on this very very difficult question.

    Debbie in the UK


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home