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MickeyFan, January 17, 2004 in Parents of Dancers under 13
Mel.... Very funny!
Allmydancers, I really like your idea of adding humor to lighten up a situation. I see humor in everything else - why not this as well. I'll tell my daughter that if I ever encroach on her turf too much, and she wants be to back off, she can start calling me Mrs. Shields.
Closet stage mother...that's makes me chuckle. I can push her all I want...as long as I don't use my outside voice!
Mr Johnson, I have always wanted my own tutu...
Mel, do you know that a number of years ago we actually saw a mom do that? Her little one was in baby ballet and VERY young; seemed to have difficuty separating from mom...so the mom popped on a costume (the little ones were animals of some kind) and participated in the recital!
(Sigh) Somehow, somehow, I have absolutely no difficulty at all in believing that!
I used to worry about this a lot, especially because my dd and I moved away for her training. Throughout the whole process of deciding to split the family, research where we can afford to go, and then actually implementing the plan, I was wondering if I was being that mom on Center Stage. I had her local teachers and some supportive friends tell me that I wasn't, that if we didn't do this dd didn't have a chance. It just seemed like we were setting up an all or nothing scenario for dd and in a way it is. Give up everything to persue your dancing, or give up your pursuit of dancing professionally to stay home.
We are in our second year of living away from home and I am finally finding an inner peace of letting things happen if they are going to happen. It is so much easier when you live in the now and enjoy what's happening now instead of worrying about the future. Dd is the one that needs to mellow out! She is well aware of the sacrifices that the family is making. She misses her dad and brothers (who have finally become people instead of just pains in the ****) and her dogs. She is constantly trying to achieve a level of performance that she hopes will make this all worth it. We talk all the time, especially about how to enjoy the journey, not just the destination, and if that destination leads us back home, IT'S OK!
Corrections on the way to the car are nothing! I, like danccemaven, have seen parents give corrections to kids IN CLASS - I wish the teacher would call them on it.
Ms. Leigh, I found it interesting that you suggest becoming more involved as the dancer becomes older; I had always assumed that my involvement would lessen as my dancers mature. I watch as many classes as I can because I enjoy it! I also help them practice at home; at their ages (7 & 9) they aren't aware of the errors they are making, and benefit from my reminders. I know that when/if they change to a pre-professional school, I probably won't be allowed to watch classes, and as they advance they won't need my help to practice. To me, watching class is no different than watching soccer or swim practice; it is a way to show interest and support.
In my opinion, the most important statement in this discussion is that dance should not become the ONLY connection between a parent and child.
This is a topic I have often thought about myself. (I chose my screen name as a tongue-in-cheek gesture, because I've always tried hard not to become that scary creature we've probably all seen in our local studio.) All of the advice above is excellent, and I don't have much to add except to always let your child lead the way concerning how much of your involvement they actually need/want. I might also add that if occasional conflicts/jealousies arise between your daughter and another young dancer, try your best to stay out of the situation. Offer advice if it will help, but it seems some of the scariest "ballet mom" behavior I've seen has arisen out of these situations.
My daughter has always liked to keep me ignorant, probably figuring a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing! She was never endangered by me being a backstage mom as large groups of children terrify me! As she got older, she didn't even like me watching the ends of dress rehearsals, as moms used to, before the kids started driving --- "well, what's the point of coming to performance now!?" she'd exclaim. Clearly she wanted me to have the full wonder and enjoyment of a member of the audience - full impact of curtain going up, music, costumes, full out dance. None of this sneak preview bit.
Truthfully, it is all fine with me. I really don't know anything about ballet and only have the motivation to understand enough to understand what she tells me - or to get more enjoyment as a member of the audience. I know a bit, generically about theatre and performance, something about music, but have so much of what I'm personally involved in going on that, I can't see getting the spark to specialize in the various interests of my kids.
Meanwhile, I will always love watching open classes and any rehearsal that allows parents in. Seeing a kid dance so rarely (months between each time) there is such change in between. AND ... I love watching the rehearsal process of acting, dance, music. Watching all that tweaking, coaching, editing, etc. is as fun to me as an actual performance.
But, I do remember from my own athletic days as a competitive swimmer at the Y in winters, one poor girl,was beleaguered by her mother up in the bleacher balcony. Boy that yelling really echoes in an indoor pool! We all felt sorry for her. I was very happy to have a disinterested mother.
Obviously this is a topic near and dear to lots of people - including me!
Speaking of scary mom's, I have actually seen a mom give corrections to other people's kids from the sidelines!
We, too have tried to tow the line between being really supportive (as ballet parents have to be), and being too involved. If dd is happy, we are happy. She does push herself rather hard, but she does in fact know how to be a regular kid. When I see her make that shift back and forth, my heart soars.
Many thanks to all on this forum for being so willing to share their thoughts and concerns.
I used to briefly watch my son a few times a week dance at his studio. And, I have always sewn costumes, so was really involved around recital time - mostly measuring and fitting. But, I found that we had a better relationship when I just dropped him off and picked him up each night. He really didn't want me interfering in his dance life.
Now that he studies dance out of town, I have had to let go of most of that dance intimacy so to speak. I see him dance twice a year now once in class and once at year-end. The family budget doesn't allow for more. But, more than the dance, I just miss him - his funny jokes and laughter. See - tears are starting again. I encourage and support on the phone and let him vent about class and teachers, but it is all out of my hands now - whatever happens along the way will be up to him and his efforts. And, I think that some crazy parents need to remember that - it is not us in the dance class!!! But I think that it is a secret desire for many parents, to don a romantic tutu and leap gracefully across the stage.......the "Closet Dancers"!!!
P.S I'm very envious of mylildancer, who gets to live with her DD and talk about the dance journey in person!
How true, how true, and how well I know what you're talking about! Don't worry, DancermomCA, you sound like your head's screwed on the right way, and so does your son. I wish the best for both of you!
You are so right! We listen!
I know you wish to listen in person, but listening is terribly important all the same.
For me, I show up to pick up my daughter, always early because I have to kill time while she is dancing. I always have something to read, and lately I rarely watch. For some reason, I feel as if I am intruding on very important business if I watch. I just read, and listen. The music always has great rhythm, and makes me FEEL like dancing. I really couldn't if I tried.
Thanks for your post.
Well, DancermomCA - the whole matter of desperately missing our ray-of-sunshine-away-kids is a whole other subject - but on THAT subject I will confess that while I am not a dance-intrusive mom, year after year (of her being away) I have definitely become more of cling-on mom - earning the title "stalker-mom!" from DD this fall. Hey, sometimes driving to work in the a.m. I just needed my little "daughter fix" to kick start my day ... The beauty of cell phones - I knew with the time difference she was just brushing her teeth or something. Anyway - she is pretty obliging and good humored about mom's empty nest panic attacks.
- whatever happens along the way will be up to him and his efforts.
As a parent, letting go has got to be the hardest lesson we have to learn - dance or no dance. Last summer both of my kids attended a 3 week sleep away camp (not a dance one) about four hours from here. They loved it. I bawled my eyes for the entire drive after dropping them off, and I cherished their letters. As much as I missed them, I felt it was a great learning experience for all of us.
Dancemom, hearing your story brings back all of the same feelings I had then, and I am sitting here with a lump in my throat. I know you must miss him so much. It is wonderful that your are giving him the opportunity to be the best he can be!
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