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.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Really? Is this necessary?

There's been a buzz around the dance studio. A big name ballet teacher is evaluating kids and offering private lessons. I read the email announcing this news just before the holidays and promptly deleted it. For crying out loud, she's in 3rd grade...why on earth do we need an hour long evaluation followed by private or semi-private lessons?

Then, over the holidays I ran into someone I consider a sane dance mom and she asked if we were participating. "No," I laughed. "That seems more important for the older girls." Her daughter is much older than La Nina, so I assumed that was her interest.

Until she enlightened me. It appears I was the minority parent who casually deleted this email. "Hmmm," I thought. Then I dismissed all other thoughts about this topic. Really, she's in 3rd grade. This week I received another email urging me to have La Nina evaluated. I gracefully declined this invitation (at least I answered it) and left the house to pick up La Nina from dance.

"When's my evaluation?" she asked as she climbed into the van with her dance bag over her shoulder.

"Uh...." I answered, because I'm articulate like that when my kid catches me off guard.

"Friend A went last week, and Friend B went too. Friend C is going tomorrow and Friend D is going Friday, when do I go?"

After lots of begging, pleading, conversing with other dance moms I respect and backtracking with the studio, La Nina has an appointment. But I really still can't get over the central question, is this necessary at her age?

So, I asked some parents outside the dance world how these things work in their kids sports. I was shocked by their answers. Apparently, this is common practice in their respective sports and the prices offered to me were competitive if not low compared to what they were already paying. If you have a kid who is serious at a sport, private coaches for batting are very common as young as 4th grade for baseball and 2nd grade for swimming. (Admittedly, it's a small sample. )

I asked my friend why. "Well," my one friend said, "I just want him to the have experience of playing high school sports and at his age (11), he needs to get ready." Her kids will go to a competitive high school, similar to the one my kids will go to, and according to her, this is just what it takes today. The varsity baseball team is a tough team to make nowadays. Spots are reserved for kids years in advanced and often kids as young as 6th grade basically, know if they're going to have a shot at making the team. Her son is on all the right teams to nab a spot on the freshman team in 3 years, but he needs to keep improving...thus the private coaches.

When did this happen? Is it like this every where? Doesn't this kind of pressure sort of suck the joy right out sports? Aren't kids supposed to be participating in activities they are passionate about just to explore? Don't they have years to master this stuff? And there's another side to this coin: if I don't do this for my kid, do I send some sort of mixed message to the coach/teacher that she's not committed to dance? Do I limit her potential for future casting? Do I hurt her future with my glib email deletion habits? Literally, I was the only parent in a cast of 9 who dismissed this whole thing.

So, tomorrow night, La Nina will be evaluated for placement in this ballet academy. Semi-private lessons are based on skill, not age, so may be she'll be with friends, may be not. (Her interest will drop considerably if she's not with her friends.) And I may let her do this or I may not. I'm still just a little shocked we've gotten to this point and that I've got a lot of company in the place where I am.


  • At 5:39 AM , Blogger Johnny said...

    My wife gets sucked into this with our daughter, who wants to quit the pre-competative gym team. The feeling of getting "left out" or "last kid picked" for kickball.

    Would it be okay to link to this post?

  • At 10:37 AM , Blogger One Crazy Mom said...

    I struggle with the exact same things. I was the mom who decided we weren't even going to perform in the recital Genevieve's first year of dance. You know, since we have to order costumes in October! Little did I know that the entire year they would be practicing for that recital performance, and Genevieve just assumed she would be a part of it. Lucky for me someone quit and I was able to buy her costume. I had signed her up for dance (that first year) just for fun.

    Every sport we have signed them up for fun, and are constantly surprised by the competitive nature that exists in these early years. So many kids play soccer year round, do special camps to improve, etc. I want a BREAK when the season is over.

    Anyhow, just wanted to say I walk the same line. Or try to. I want to keep it fun, but I also don't want to hold them back from attaining something down the road if that's what they want to do.


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