Tales of a Four Year Old Diva Ballerina

As I mentioned in an earlier post – On Becoming a Dance Mom – dance is a new thing for my family.  Now that we’ve had two class sessions it’s been a series of trial and error on how to best arrive on-time to dance class and keep my daughter in class for the entire forty-five minutes. I THINK we finally figured out our best routine – at LAST!

I guess you could say that my daughter is a Four Year Old Diva Ballerina.  Here are a few of her distinct qualities:

Diva Quality One – It’s ALL about ME. (Wait – don’t all kids think this?!)

She has a different, much slower concept of time, especially in the morning, which doesn’t coincide with actual, real world time.  She cannot move quickly while getting ready. Breakfast must be consumed at her own pace.  She often gets distracted in the morning, and I need to find different ways to keep things moving along.  It can be a struggle getting out the door to put it mildly!

Diva Quality Two – Conditions MUST be perfect for optimum performance.

“Don’t pull my hair!” To which I respond, “I know honey. I am not trying to hurt you. I will give you a low ponytail.”  By the end of class today, her ponytail was taken out entirely. I’m glad the teacher doesn’t care!

“My legs hurt.”  This complaint was debuted before she went to her first dance class. I haven’t heard it in awhile, so maybe the growth spurt has since passed.

“I have a headache and my stomach hurts too.”  She tossed this one out at me as I buckled her into her car seat last week. While she had a crabby look on her face, I didn’t buy it, so onto class we went.

“I’m hot.”  Apparently the room IS hot where the girls dance.  This can cause her skin to itch.

“I have the itchies.”  We apply generous amounts of lotion prior to getting dressed to make sure her skin is adequately moisturized in this dry, winter weather.  Sometimes this does the trick.  Last week the itchies re-appeared even after putting on lotion due to a costume issue (read on).

When we have NOT prepared for dry skin issues, and I’m watching the class, she’s come out early because her skin is bothering her. As I once played in the gym with my son during her class, we came back to find her standing in one spot in class with a pouty, crabby expression.  Naturally, I let her come to me to see what was wrong, and it was the itchies. Sigh.

Diva Quality Three – Some Costumes and Shoes WILL. NOT. DO.

“Cut out the tag.  The (cut-out) tag (piece that still remains) is itching me.  I need a band-aid.” Next leotard.  Fortunately that was okay – a good thing since we only have two.

My shoes are pinching me (when worn without tights).  One week I tried having her wear leggings instead of tights to see if that would be more comfortable and prevent some of the “itchies.”  This just caused her ballet shoes to rub on her bare skin, so she left class early again! Sigh.

Diva Quality Four – Love your Audience

She covers me with kisses on both cheeks and even the lips when she leaves for dance class.  When finished, I’m greeted with smiles and a big hug, and sometimes MORE kisses.  Here are some pictures I took after one class of my happy little ballerina:

My Ballerina Diva and her little brother "photo-bombing" her pic

My Diva Ballerina and her little brother “photo-bombing” her pic

Dance Mama O.’s Closing Thoughts

Through trial and error of attending dance classes at our local YMCA, I have realized that I need to leave the viewing area during class to ensure she’ll stay in class for the ENTIRE TIME. This means two things:

  1. I get in a workout on a machine, while my daughter learns some new ballet moves. (win – win)
  2. I don’t get to see all of this cuteness during class.

Ballet class has been a good learning experience for both of us these past few months.  Yet, I’m not jumping at the next opportunity to sign her up again because this is a beginner dance class for ages 3 – 5 that basically repeats the same thing each session.  Nor am I searching for a more structured dance studio for her to further develop as a dancer.  After all, she’s only four…giving her plenty of time to figure our what activities she really enjoys. I’m hoping we can downplay the “diva” and just break out our dance moves at home for awhile.

Has anyone else dealt with diva-like and general poky behavior getting out the door in the morning?  Any advice along those lines is welcome!

On Becoming a Dance Mom

I’m becoming a dance mom.

I knew it was only a matter of time, as my four year old has been expressing an interest in dance for some time now, so we opted to stop swimming and start up dance this next session at the YMCA. Besides the frequent dance parties we have as a family (this means she hangs limp and gets twirled around by Daddy O.), we don’t have much formal dance training.

Dance is a new experience for her and ME, as I have a limited dance background with the occasional Zumba class, a few salsa dance classes, and my own stellar moves that I’ve picked up along the way. I’ve gravitated to the more athletic moves, as  I was in almost every sport imaginable while growing up with our neighborhood crew: t-ball, softball, tennis, swimming, basketball, volleyball, track & field, downhill skiing, and ice skating. I was probably so busy that I didn’t even consider dance. The sports that really became my passion in high school were basketball and volleyball. I’ll never forget the thrill of running out for every varsity game on the rubbery blue field house floor to the tunes of late 90’s and Jock Jams!  Some tunes that I remember:

Ok, I digress, but I spent three out of four years on the varsity basketball team, and have some of the best high school memories playing bball with my teammates.  Basketball was also the hobby that led me to meeting my husband in college – at a Thursday night open gym that I went to with a friend, who was dating one of his buddies.  To this day, I still play basketball in my high school’s annual alumni tournament!  It’s a blast, even though I’ve lost a lot of skills and speed! Anyway, given my love of sports, I’d like my children to find their own passions as they grow up.

Dance may very well be that thing for my daughter.  We’ll see… she was QUITE excited by her leotard and tutu that she received for Christmas.  Here she topped it off with her “Super Girl” cape that Grandma made. I love her sense of style!

super ballerina

My very own Super Ballerina

So far, from buying her first pair of ballet shoes alone, I can see that she has some Prima donna qualities. She insisted on the pink pair, and we found her size without incident. Her two year old brother was disappointed that dance shoes were not available in his size, but easily got over it when we found new Lightning McQueen shoes for him instead. When it came time to pack up and go, my daughter whole hardheartedly refused, instead wanting me to buy her some Hello Kitty notebook that was on the checkout counter. I tried all of my usual lines to get out of a store, but nothing was working. Finally, I had to resort to the nuclear option, picking her up kicking and screaming, full-on diva tantrum style, and bring her to the car.

Fast forward to this morning, when attempting to wake her up (which is usually a challenge).  The promise of this morning’s dance class wouldn’t even rouse her. In fact, it did quite the opposite.

“I don’t want to go to dance class,” she whined.

“But honey, I signed you up for this session. Let’s just go this first time and see how you like it,” I reasoned with her.

“My legs are hurting,” she continued to whine. (Maybe she’s growing?!)

“Well, let me carry you downstairs and once you finish getting ready, you can have some special medicine for your legs that will make you feel better,” Daddy O. suggested so very kindly, in a way that I can’t always muster the patience or creativity to do myself with my daughter.

She bought it, and I obliged, giving her a miniscule amount of Tylenol for her legs. (We don’t usually use medicine as a motivator, nor do we frequently give out Tylenol, but whatever works.)

Still feeling the effects of that darn Polar Vortex (love this post 10 Advantages to Living in the Frozen Tundra), we put on several layers, keeping the bandaid on her leg under her tights (her demand) and bringing along hair stuff, so I could fix her hair before class. Looking like a pack mule, with an over-stuffed backpack, two kids’ jackets, mittens, hats, and boots, we trudged to the bathroom for a quick potty stop and de-layering.  By this time, I could see the other little girls and their families waiting in line for class to begin.  Not seeing other neatly styled buns, I convinced my daughter to forgo any up-do, which is perfect, since she always rips them out anyway.

By the time I had signed her in and was telling her to go in, she was excitedly bouncing at my side. She gave me a sweet hug and a kiss on the cheek before running in to join her class that had just started. I couldn’t help but feel proud. I loved seeing the joy and anticipation in her eyes and she sat “criss-cross applesauce” listening to her teacher. During the 45 minute class, my two year old son and I alternated from playing basketball and running around in the nearby gym and stopping to watch her ballet class.  Many other parents stayed put on the chairs placed outside the classroom to take in and photograph all of the cuteness. With all of our winter gear and water bottles, I passed on our camera today, though it was SO adorable watching her twirl, jump, and dance around the room.

My daughter came out of class with a grin lighting up her entire face, gave me a huge hug, and chirped, “I love ballet.” I was so thrilled that it went so well, despite her reservations and leg pain earlier this morning.

I asked her what she wanted to do next after changing out of her dance gear, to which she replied, “I want to go to the gym.”  A girl after my own heart, she chose a kid’s sized basketball to take along. She may be quite the well-rounded dancer after all. I think that I’ll enjoy being a dance mom, or “fill in the blank” mom based on whatever my son and daughter discover.

Do you have any tips for me as a newly minted dance mom? How have you reacted to your children discovering new hobbies?