“Does she have any family here?”
The instructor was standing beside my daughter as her tiny feet tap danced to “Let it Go”. She was not really following the routine everyone else was tapping out but the smile on her face made my heart melt. She was so proud to be showing off.
I stepped forward, indicating she belonged to me.
That’s my baby!
“This is the most she has done all week,” the instructor said solemnly in a loud whisper.
My daughter looked up, a worried look playing across her face.
“Really?” I was shocked. She had been so eager….
The instructed nodded and moved off without another word to me.
My daughter stopped dancing.
The music was still playing. Everyone else was still dancing. She just stood there, unmoving, a look of pain and confusion on her face.
“Go on, sweetie! Keep going! You are doing great!” I encouraged. Instead, she ran over and threw herself into my arms, burying her head in my chest.
Who took my daughter and replaced her with this shy little girl?
“Baby, why don’t you go back and finish with your friends?” I whispered in her ear.
She shook her head no, refusing to look me in the eye.
I pleaded, cajoled, threatened. The child would not budge. Instead, she sat in my lap and watched the other girls demonstrate their ballet positions.
Afterwards, while she ate a cupcake, the instructor pulled me aside and said she was just not ready for dance class yet. A mixture of guilty relief, sadness, and anger washed over me:
I don’t have to be a dance mom yet!
My little girl was clearly suffering somehow to refuse to participate all week. Lonely? Embarrassed? Worried she would not be good enough so she just didn’t try? It made me sad seeing all of these familiar emotions reflected back at me.
Why didn’t they tell me the first day of camp so I could intervene or help somehow? Why wait to tell me at the end at her mini-recital?
She still talks about dance class every day, asks when will she get to go back. She dresses up in her ballerina tutus and pirouettes around the house.
Not yet, sweetheart. Not yet.