When people find out the Princess is a dancer, they generally ask if I danced growing up. I didn’t dance. I did swimming, gymnastics, cheerleading, and music. I think I remember taking a tiny tots ballet class for a hot minute when I was about three. But I wasn’t a dancer. I put the Princess in dance because I desperately needed to balance all the boy going on in the house. She started with that Saturday morning ballet/tap/tumbling class. She was three. I didn’t know how long it would last. But after every recital and subsequent summer break, she answered in the affirmative to going back to class.
In those early years, the parents sat outside, literally. We could see the kids, but we were on the other side of the door. It was better that way, easier for the teacher and TA to corral the little
heathens ballerinas. And it was mostly for fun, so there wasn’t pressure to have pointed toes, straight legs, perfect hands/arms.
When she decided to quit soccer and focus on dance, we both got a bit more serious. She would look to me for correction sometimes, or to be sure I thought she was doing something right. But after about a year of that, I decided I needed to go back outside the glass again. I’m her mom, not her instructor or director. And I didn’t dance, especially at the level she’s achieved. These days, even if I stay during class time, I don’t watch. I definitely don’t correct her at all. That’s not my job. That’s what I pay her teachers to do. They know what they’re doing. I’m just the mom, part of the audience. I am the enabler…I drive her to and from. I pay for her classes, private lessons, recitals, shows, and costumes. I bake for the bake sales. I make and sell dance grams at recitals. But for the rest, this is her gig. During class, she is theirs to correct, instruct, encourage, help develop.
Nowadays, if and when I watch, it is as a proud momma. I love to see her dance. But I try not to even look to see if her feet are pointed, her arms are right, her legs are straight, if she’s falling out of her turns, and I definitely don’t talk about any of those things with her, especially during class. That’s not my place. That’s not my job. My job is to love her, to encourage her, to support her, to help her achieve her goals and dreams. I can’t tell you how many times, when I do look up and watch, I am nearly moved to tears. I could only wish to be able to do what she does, and do it so beautifully. She doesn’t need me to pretend I know what I’m talking about, tell her how to fix things. She needs me to love her. And that’s totally easy.
Edited to add: Trust me when I say, I am not perfect with this. There are days I’m watching through the glass and find myself mouthing at her, “Point your feet!” It’s a work in progress. But I just remind myself, she has teachers. I just need to be her mom.