By: Davida Grant
When I was a child, I didn’t take any extracurricular classes. I don’t think my parents considered or even knew that such classes were an option. As an adult, I’ve always harbored the belief that NOT taking an array of classes as a child impacted my ability to discover my passions at a early age. I vowed that my children would not suffer the same fate. They’d take all kinds of classes — dance, art, music, language and sports — to help them figure out their strengths, weaknesses, and passions early rather than later in life.
So, last Saturday Simone started her first dance class, ballet. I was soooooo excited. I bought her a pink leotard, pink tights and pink ballet shoes. Baby girl would look the part. When I woke her up that morning, I was giddy. I said, “Guess what Simone. Today you start your dance lessons.” Then I started clapping my hands, doing a happy dance and shouting “Yay, Yay.” Simone looked at me like I was crazy. And I actually think I was. But, my excitement was contagious, so she started jumping around too. When I showed her the ballerina outfit, she was all smiles. She couldn’t wait to wear it. Once she was ready, off we went to start this new adventure.
Well, things didn’t go as I had planned. I envisioned Simone twirling around the room and up and down the floor, you know doing all the steps the little ballerinas do on TV. Baby girl was not having it. While ALL and I mean ALL the other girls in the class pranced and sashayed around the room, Simone sat on the floor eagle-style and refused to do anything. The instructor tried throughout the class to coax her into joining the fun, but Simone wouldn’t budge. To my horror (yes I said horror), Simone stretched out on the floor, forcing the other girls to manuever around her. This was not what I expected. Where was the little girl that dances around the house every time she hears music? That girl clearly was not in the building.
I was not prepared for this. I didn’t consider that my dancing baby girl would not dance in class. I didn’t consider that she might not like it. After the class, I was quiet as a mouse. Simone was her typical self. For her, everything was business as usual. It was on to the next. For me, the past 45 minutes had changed everything. Reality smacked me in the face. It was the first time that I truly realized that Simone really is her own person. Yes I can and will introduce her to the things I think she’ll like, but at the end of the day, what matters is what she likes. I can’t be mad if she doesn’t like what I like and frankly I shouldn’t be disappointed either. Simone has her own journey and I, as her mother, must guide, support and encourage her along the way. I can not and must not force her to choose the path I took or wish I’d taken.
Now, I’m not hanging up her dance shoes yet. We’ll try another class or two to see if she warms up and participates, but if she doesn’t, that’s ok. I will continue to expose her to an array of activities and I know we’ll find something she absolutely loves.
What about you? Any lessons learned over the last week. I’d love to hear from you.