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Pas de chats redux


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I wriggled out of a late afternoon meeting last Wednesday and jumped on the A train to catch Thalia’s very last ballet class.  I knew she would be happy to see me, but I figured the joy ended there, what with her insistence that she didn’t like ballet anymore and her new affection for hiphop.

She never looked happier.

She preened in the mirror, she ran in giggly circles with a friend, she corrected herself when her grand jete took off from wiggly spaghetti legs, and not the pencil legs she was aiming for. (Her teacher is so good with the metaphors.) She was all lightness and air, butterflies and sunshine; the happy little five year-old ballerina I had always thought she was until she confessed that she wasn’t.

And the turnout. Oh lord, that turnout! First position perfection.

From the dance floor, she waved. She smiled. She gave me the thumbs up sign. She mouthed the words hiiii mooooom. And with every break in the music, she scurried over to the parents area, squeezing my legs in a quick hug before racing back to the barre. She radiated pride.

As the class ended, I took Thalia’s little orange rosebuds from her arms, helped her with her jacket, and asked why she didn’t want to take ballet anymore. After all, it seemed like she was having so much fun.

She thought about it a minute.

“Well, I like it when you’re here, Mommy.”


I thought I could delegate Thalia’s ballet class to her sitter as a midweek after-school activity. I thought it was enough that she was doing it at all. Once again, I misread what is special to her.

Today I will be there, the last slot available in the last beginning ballet weekend class. I will be there all the Sundays I can.

Oh lord, that turnout.

Nate thinks I pushed Thalia into it, living out my own dashed Nutcracker fantasies through her. I swear I didn’t. She pushed me into it.

24 shards of brilliance… read them below or add one

amanda February 6, 2011 at 2:57 pm

The ache pushing through your narrative, the seeming futility of making it happen only to find the it isn't what you thought, makes me wince and nod.

I think it's sublime when the push is transcended by the bond.



Lindsey February 6, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Oh, so beautiful … I have been there. Many, many times. The wriggle, the smile, the pride, the surprise. It never ends. xox


Lynn MacDonald February 6, 2011 at 3:08 pm

This is always a toughie…whether they're doing it for them, or you. Its so difficult to separate your feelings from your kids activities. I would advocate a take it one step at a time approach to dance, eventually she will love it for her, or not and you will need to recognize and come to terms with that.


Abbey February 6, 2011 at 3:34 pm

So poignant. Thru are all such amazing small people. I hope class if lovely for you both.


Wendy Altschuler February 6, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Such sweet moments, thanks for sharing!


Danielle-Marie February 6, 2011 at 4:49 pm

It's so sweet how proud she is to show you what she can do.


christina February 6, 2011 at 5:04 pm

“Oof” That is it. It keeps coming, only looking differently as they get bigger. Mostly because they DON'T want you to be a a part of it… or anything.
Enjoy you're weekend class. You amke me long for 5 again.


linda February 6, 2011 at 5:36 pm

i love it!


Kami February 6, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Totally. The turn out! And what a tush! So glad you are there today. Lucky girl. Lucky mom.


edenland February 7, 2011 at 1:33 am

Oh, those achingly sweet little legs! You'll both end up loving it as much as each other, I'm sure.


Meagan @ The Happiest Mom February 7, 2011 at 2:17 pm

That picture is so freaking sweet, I feel all sniffly now.

And yes, it's so funny how we misunderstand what our kids really want sometimes? I always wonder if they couldn't figure out how to tell me, or if I just wasn't paying close enough attention. Either way, we all do it.


Jessica {Team Rasler} February 7, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Oof. Yes, I've had that feeling. It's such a challenge to disentangle our hopes and desires for our children from theirs – and sometimes we don't want to, as in your McDonald's commentary above! I hope you both enjoy those weekend classes.


Amy February 8, 2011 at 5:19 am

Turnout, that's not fair! I would love to have a little bit of that. My turnout was almost non-exisistant and I was told I didn't have enough to become professional. Bitter? Nah, I had found something that made me happy for years, kept me out of trouble and gave me strength I didn't know I had.
Those would be the reasons to want my children to dance, so they can discover if it gives them joy too.


tripleZmom February 8, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Beautiful post – and touching. And I am jealous of that turn out, all these no longer dancing years later!


Rowgirl08 February 9, 2011 at 12:32 am

That turnout…damn, that is beautiful!
Hope you guys had fun.


Paula/adhocmom February 9, 2011 at 1:43 pm

I CAN NOT WAIT for my daughter to start ballet. And I admit I'll be disappointed if she wants to take, say, archery instead. But it sounds like your daughter is going to let you know if it really isn't something she wants to do.


Sarah February 9, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Liz you are such and amazing mother and woman all wrapped up in each soundbite you share. Thanks for this. Last Wednesday I got a call from school that Jack was running a low grade temp – 100. I was all “Seriously? that's not a temp for a 4 1/2 year old, that's sweat equity on a boy running around playing!” But then he'd been coming off a cold and the more I considered it, probably could be an ear infection, so I called the doc, made the appt, unhappily leaving the office AGAIN (we've had far too many “weather” events in the south lately and I am soooo far behind it's not funny). We went home, I got nothing done, he played – seemingly fine – took him to the doc and it was…NOTHING, 97.9 on the good old accurate doctor office thermometer. My temp however went up thinking about all the lost time and messed up schedules, that was until we left there and proceeded to the grocery to get a little bonus shopping in while I had the time and Jack piped up with:

“Mommy, hey, this is just like a little stay home day (our word for Sat/Sun) but just with me and you. I like that!”

Oof, I think Nate could have punched me in the stomach and I would have felt better than I did at that moment.


Mom101 February 9, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Sarah, let's listen to our kids more. They're too wise for their years.


Lindsay February 9, 2011 at 10:36 pm

geezy peezy that turnout is insane. Just be careful if she sticks with dance and those pencil legs are a goal associated with food!


Mom101 February 9, 2011 at 11:03 pm

Thanks for the anorexia warning Lindsay!


lori February 10, 2011 at 1:41 am

Oh, what a cute picture. I always wondered if I liked having my daughter in dance more than she liked doing it, so for a few years in junior high school we didn't enroll her in any dance classes. Then in high school she choose to take classes again and now is going to college for dance with the dream of performing and later teaching.
So you never know.


Loukia February 11, 2011 at 4:04 am

That is the sweetest picture.


toyfoto February 16, 2011 at 10:21 pm

This winter I signed up Ittybit for a x-country ski program, and skied alongside the class. (I am not a good skier but they needed volunteers to help).

I think there was only one day of the six that she didn't cry.

It was painful, for everyone, as you might imagine.

Every teacher who lead the group asked her if she wanted to stop, but she always answered no. She wanted to finish. She wanted to get up the hill.

Later, when I asked her what she thought of skiing, she told me it was “fun” and she was looking forward to the next lesson.

I had decided that I might never understand her … now I'm wondering if she had done it all for me.


Mandy B February 17, 2011 at 1:55 am

That is an absolute beautiful 1st position. And that's coming from a 12 year ballet student. ;) I love that picture.


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