My daughter dances at a local dance academy once a week. Every Wednesday night I rush home from work, whip together a quick dinner and off we go to do ballet and tap. J loves it.
Every other week, Todd has to work and so I have the company of H and L while I wait in the cramped dance studio. On those nights I don’t spend the 45 minutes watching J, rather I spend it entertaining the boys.
Last Wednesday I was running late. It was a long day at work and so by the time I got home, I had just ½ hour to get the kids fed, dressed, and out the door. Not once since J started dance had we ever been late…tonight was our turn.
We arrived at the studio. To my surprise all the Moms had taken their places crowding around the window to the dance room. This was a shock because most of the time they are comfortably sitting catching up on emails, talking, or reading magazines.
I soon found out why they were standing there.
As my luck would have it, this particular evening was midterm testing at the dance studio. My daughter has now reached the stage where she is tested to make sure she is meeting the expectations of her level. She is moved up and placed on teams based on these tests. So twice a year, she is evaluated by the director of the studio.
So there I was, a big bulky car seat in one hand, H holding my other hand and J hurrying to put her dance shoes on. She was in such a hurry to get in, I didn’t even get to tell her what was happening or encourage her to do her best. I tried to get a seat near the dance class, but they were all taken at this point. The Moms at the window were fiercely guarding their spots. So, I took H and L down the hall away from the classroom to wait.
I soon saw why the Moms fought so hard for those coveted window spots. As their daughters were being tested, these Moms were watching, most of the time with looks that said “Do good or else”. When their daughters would start to talk or, well “act their ages”, their Moms would shoot them the look, and presto Prima Ballerinas. The Moms also were trying to do the steps to help their daughter without it looking like they were doing that in front of the other Moms. It’s pretty funny watching Moms try to do the ballet positions covertly. The dance daughters inside began their test with their Mom coaches watching closely.
Well, that is except me. Why did we have to be late this time? Because of my tardiness I couldn’t join the Mom coaches, there was simply no room, especially with H and L in tow. By nature I am not a competitive person, but I’m not going to lie and say I don’t want my daughter to well at these things. I stood there feeling guilty thinking my daughter was going to fail her test simply because I couldn’t help her.
The suspense was killing me and so I walked every now and then and peeked in over the Moms’ shoulders... well I took as good of a peek as I could with L trying to pull my hair and H trying to pull me away back to the toys we had brought. When I first looked, I saw my daughter talking to the director, (complimenting her nail color I later found out). The second time I looked, J had let go of the ballet bar and was standing there talking and laughing. Sure that’s okay for regular class, but apparently not for testing day as the other Moms’ looks curbed this behavior instantly in their daughters. Instantly I thought…if I was standing there I could help her stay on track.
I texted my husband, feeling helpless “They are helping their daughters” I wrote, “And I can’t help J, she needs me to help her”. I stood their nervously, trying to pay attention to H and L and forget about what was going on in the next room, but I couldn’t help but think that J was doing bad in her test solely because I was not amongst the Moms standing in the window. She couldn’t possibly pass this test without my assistance, I mean I’ve always been there to help her.
After what seemed like an eternity, the door opened and out ran the young dancers. Their moms congratulated them on their somewhat dual-performances. It was then time to get the dance test results from the teacher. I walked in already feeling defeated, certainly without my oversight J didn’t do well. Right? The director handed me the paper. Not only did J pass her test, she exceeded her level in all the dance steps. She did amazing…no Mommy supervision required.
My initial reaction was shock and sheer joy…She did it! I came out and looked at J… “How’d I do?” she asked me in a calm confident, “I know I did great” tone. I gave her a big hug and told her how proud I was of her. But then I got a twinge of sadness…she passed on her own, she didn’t need me. While I stood waiting in that dance studio doubting her abilities without me being there to curb any 4 year old behaviors, she was in that room exceeding the expectations. Not only did she exceed her dance studio’s expectations….she WAY exceeded mine.
J got her boots on and put away her ballet slippers. Wow…she doesn’t even need me anymore to help her with her shoes. As I watched her put on her coat and zip it up I remembered just 2 years prior how different this scene was. When J started dance, she was 2 years old. I had to sit inside the dance class room because if I took one step toward that door she cried. The next class she allowed me to move to the open doorway and watch from there, but if I turned away for a second, out she came crying for me. The next stage, she was content to see me smiling at her from the window, but I still couldn’t sit down like the other dance Moms. Now, she passed a ballet and tap test while I was far away from the room.
I think I’ll always remember this first test. It was the first time J proved me wrong and showed me that she didn’t need me to help her anymore. I guess, my baby is turning into a little girl one dance step at a time.