“Did you see me? Did you see me, ma?”
I wasn’t looking.
“No, darn it! I missed it! Can you do it again?”
“Oh, Ok,” she says with the same disappointed tone I use with her father when he forgets the ONE thing I sent him to the store to get. “This time watch, okay.”
She had on her best dress and her new tap shoes. She was excited to be taking a dance class. Perhaps even more excited to FINALLY have her mother all to herself. Finally, it would be her mother, and not a daddy or grand parent or babysitter, cheering her on from the sidelines.
She twirled around on one heel, her dress revolving around her with a flourish. But there wasn’t a perfect finish. The taps slipped out from underneath her and down she went. On her bottom with a thud.
“Whoops! That wasn’t supposed to happen,” she says with a laugh. I laugh, too, happy that the unceremonious fall wounded neither her body nor her ego.
She doesn’t even wait for me to tell her how lovely she looks or what a wonderful listener she is for the teacher before she disappears back into the room.
This is our “mommy time.”
But somehow, standing outside of the studio, taking turns with the other moms peering through the glare of the glass window in the waiting area, didn’t much seem like “mommy time” unless you define the term literally.
Dance class was something I had put off. I knew Ittybit would LOVE to dress in pretty things and pirouette around a dance floor, but I wasn’t ready for all the things I thought formality would bring.
Would the tights and leotards and learning of steps take away from her free spirit? Would it warp her sense of self? She would have to tame her wild hair and her wild style to play this role.
“You are really thinking about this too hard,” my husband said. “Little girls LOVE to dress up. To her this will be fun. And really what’s wrong with letting her learn about an art form the way it was intended to be taught.”
He was right.
I wasn’t really afraid of the tutus and the leotards.
I was worried about the other mothers.
I knew most of them had been through the drill: Kinderdance on Tuesdays, Kindermusic on Thursdays, Kindergymnastics every other Saturday.
What would they be like? Would they think I was odd? Would they wrinkle their noses because my kid was the ripe old age of four and some has never really been to a formal “class” of any kind? Would they like me? Would I like them?
Ittybit and I are early: the kind of early only anxiety can explain.
As the dancers start trickling in, I can see the parents sizing each other up. Such is human nature. I am sizing them up, too.
Their kids have sweet little dance outfits of all variety. Some are dressed in shorts and sneakers. No matter how many times they’ve been here before they counseled their tiny dancers to stand in line and wait until their names are called before entering the dance studio.
When the class starts, we all gather in front of a picture window in the wall for a glimpse of our kids waving at us from the other side.
We all have cameras and jockey for the best positions to avoid the glare, but we take turns. There’s just not enough space for everyone to camp out there.
We can’t really do much else, so we introduce ourselves. We chat about our kids, which leads to chats about ourselves. We learn of similarities. We laugh. Eventually we get so loud in our individual conversations that I’m sure at any moment the teacher will come floating out of the studio to shush us. I imagine she will close the door, and we will feel chastened until our kids coming running out to grab us around our legs, telling us how fun dance is and how they really LOVE their mommy time.
Little do they know, so do we.