Saturday, April 10, 2010

Baby ballerina

This wasn't a class in ballet. This was a class in not giving up.

Alix started ballet classes about 6 months ago even though I had the ballet baggage. I sucked at it. Absolutely hated it and dropped out after a few lessons. In the girls school I attended, ballet was a big thing and the prissiest girls excelled in it. When the ballet girls were showcased at the school events, we would sit at the back of the hall and laugh at their tu tus.

History seemed to repeat itself when Alix started ballet. She was really shy at first and refused to participate but a friend advised.

Put her in the tu tu. Tie up her hair. Make her feel like a princess.

She gave me a tu tu which her daughter had outgrown and I put it on my daughter and watched my baby become a ballerina. Every Saturday morning, Gary and I attended to watch her dance and I can tell you, my heart just burst with pride. She moved with confidence and determination and was nothing like my younger self, who failed fabulously at ballet.


But something happened over the last month. Alix got 'abandoned' in class first by my helper and then by myself. We were sending Shane to his Chinese class, it starts at 11.10 am just before ballet ends at 11.15 so we step out to send him there.

Alix failed to see us on 2 occasions and each time the psychic trauma pierced deeper.

By the second time, she didn't want to dance. And she's refused to dance for 2 weeks now. We sit in class and she attaches herself to my lap like super glue. Dad tells her lessons will be canceled, she gets more negative and we get closer and closer to ending her ballet forever.

I tried to check myself:

Had I become one of those obsessive parents who watch their offspring overcome their own childhood fears and become even more obsessive about watching them succeed?

But no, it wasn't about that even.

So I sat with her at today's lesson both of us just watching in silence. I didn't scold her. There were no threats. But I told her after at the food court having lunch - what I wanted to tell my younger self. The same thing I would repeat to her at age 5, 15, or 35.

Alix, when you are scared, you musn't quit. Don't give up.

I couldn't make her dance.

And we both knew she was scared. But if ever she had to face her fears, become independent and chase her dreams - she had to learn this.

I sounded like an annoying caption on a motivational poster.

She looked up at me. The first time all morning she looks at me without the fear in her eyes.

Is that how the man builds the house? He doesn't quit?

I don't know where she got that analogy but I think the message got through.

We'll see how it goes. For now, I'll be there and give her as much time as she needs to get over her fears and dance again.