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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Long Distance Parenting


Guest PAmom

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Reading through the "Balancing work and 'dance mom' duties" thread makes me realize there are a lot of parents who have children as students or new company members living away from home.

 

I know many of us have dealt with the month or 2 of having our dancers away at an SI but I am specifically talking about only seeing a child for a few weeks every YEAR. Let's share how we are (or aren't) coping with having our kids move away while we creatively support them on their journey into the pro dance world.

 

What are some supportive long distance strategies you are coming up with for yourself, family and your child? Any creative solutions for not being able to attend performances our kids are in across country (or another continent)? Do you send flowers? Watch a ballet video during their performance and "cheer on" the performer who is dancing your child's role? Have you run into any problems with health insurance and how did you solve them? What bumps in the road were you able to soften for your child as they made the transition into a company?

 

I will share later but wanted to start this topic while I had a moment.

 

t :D

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PAmom, what an excellent new thread. I'm sure the other "long distance" parents will make their way here soon, meanwhile those of us who have yet to experience this will listen, learn and try to offer our support.

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Guest Watermill

Here's how we handle the distance (between Oregon & Florida):

 

Daily phone contact (free peer to peer on T-Mobile costs only $20 for the extra phone)

 

Instant Messaging (computers always on, many suprise chats)

 

Emails (especially with pictures, especially of the cats)

 

Video exchange (we each have camcorders )

 

Care packages (greatly appreciated. always a suprise inside)

 

Cheap flights for weekend visits (check SW Airlines & CheapTickets...I've flown RT Coast to coast for under $200)

 

Homework coaching...I assign reading & writing assignments, she submits them on email, I correct them, we discuss on phone. This is in addition to her Distance learning program, which I also am involved in)

 

But I suppose none of this would work if I hadn't taken an ardent interest in Ballet as an important form of human expression and shared my love of it with my daughter. She trusts in that love and feels safe sharing her ups and downs with me. Because she is willing to communicate her personal feelings to me, I suspect we feel closer than many Dads and daughters who are living under the same roof.

The strength of my support is mirrored by the strength of her sharing both her inner and outer life. This is a relationship we've been working on since the day she was born.

But before I am accused of having an "ideal" relationship with my daughter (which I do not), I must confess to you that I "lost" a daughter in a previous marraige, so please understand that this was a lesson I learned the hard way. It's only when one makes big mistakes and learns from them that things get better.

So I guess my real advice to Long Distance Parents To Be is not to buy computers and camcorders and cell phones, but to instead, begin investing in your sharing and caring skills with your dancer. All the fancy technology won't mean a thing if the warmth of a loving relationship is not there to begin with.

Good luck to all the Long Distance Parents.

Watermill

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I'm particularly interested in the insurance issue and any tips about the overseas dancer. We won't have any free overseas cell phone minutes available nor will daughter have regular access to a computer for email. I think it's going to be very hard for this mom here who's always been used to talking on phone or IM with daughter while she's away.

 

Marqa, have you figured any of this out yet?

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Marga, have you figured any of this out yet?

We will continue to learn what is needed as the year unfolds, but my husband did a boffo job of setting our daughter up in a new-to-her country. He accompanied her to Estonia and stayed with her in her apartment for almost 2 weeks. During this time he set up bank accounts for her, got her a mobile phone and had a house phone installed. He arranged get-togethers with relatives from both sides of the family (all are people she had never met before, but had seen pictures of) so she would have a support system in place. He purchased a radio and a few other necessary items to make her daily life easier and more enjoyable.

 

He walked her to the theatre every morning for class and met her at the door after rehearsals every afternoon to walk her home. The trolley that would be operating after the construction on the street was finished is another option for her to get to work. They shopped together at the supermarket and used the laundromat and bank machine. He took her around to an old friend (formerly from NJ) who runs a restaurant within walking distance of the theatre.

 

Her apartment was waiting for her when they arrived. Our eldest daughter helped find the apartment through a friend from here who has been living in Estonia for the last decade and works in the same building. Another friend is a computer teacher, also within walking distance of the theatre, so our daughter has internet access on her free day after teaching hours. This friend, who was a Girl Guide leader here while I was a Brownie leader even met our daughter at the airport with flowers.

 

One of my husband's relatives has gotten together many times with our daughter after work and on free days. She did the trolley-run with her (they have a different way of handling tickets, so I'm glad my daughter had someone to show her) after the public transit started operating again. This relative's only child, a son, studied dentistry in another European country and she knows how alone he felt sometimes. She has become like a second mother to our daughter.

 

The artistic director (who hired our daughter) has been wonderful to her. He and the office manager spent 1½ hours showing her around the studios, dressing rooms, theatre, etc. the day before work began and told her to bring any concerns she may have to them. The members of the company were not particularly friendly at first and kept to themselves. One veteran dancer, however, has begun to "mother" our daughter, which makes me breathe easier. This dancer joined the company 20 years ago and is a soloist. She goes over choreography with our daughter and helps her learn difficult sequences. I have to restrain myself from getting involved and sending her a bouquet of flowers or even a thank-you card. The worst thing for a young newbie in a ballet company would be to have hovering parents while she is at work! :D

 

We use one of those discount numbers when we phone overseas. It really makes a big difference in our phone bill. When I'm on the phone with our daughter, the time just flies! I want to know every little detail of her day, and she has so many things to tell me, too. She misses us very, very much but loves living alone and shores herself up each day with positive thoughts for getting through rehearsals, where she still feels she doesn't measure up to the others. I emailed her excerpts from Suzanne Farrell's and Christopher d'Amboise's autobiographies which detail their own struggles in the first weeks as company members. I will continue sending such stories from other dancers' books. It helps intellectually, even though emotionally it is quite hard. I can send her little things (a t-shirt, a couple of CD's, a pair of tights) with people who are visiting or returning to Estonia from Toronto or New York. The traffic between North America and Estonia is pretty brisk!

 

Where overseas is your daughter going to be, vagansmom?

 

THANKS, PAmom, for starting this thread! :D

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Wow, marqa, it sounds like you folks have done an absolutely perfect job in helping your daughter set up her overseas home. I love that you forged a network of people for her right from the beginning. She'll build her own network in time but meanwhile she can rest easy knowing she has friends and family nearby. I loved reading the details of how you approached all of this.

 

My own daughter's situation will be different and not as permanent. She'll be on tour till sometime in January. The tour will take her to the West Coast of the USA (we're in CT) and then to Europe but she'll likely not be in any one place for more than a few nights. I am trying not to feel concern about things like terrorism but the fact is, I do. I won't be able to get in touch with her much of the time that she's overseas.

 

Tell me more about the discount phone numbers. I'm not sure what you're referring to.

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Knock knock--

 

Not a parent, but a traveller.

 

In most cities, internet access is now available in public places at very reasonable prices. Most hotels now seem to have some sort of internet access arrangment where internet access is free or relatively inexpensive, and internet cafes are very, very common in cities outside the US.

 

I travel a fair amount and never go more than a day or two without an opportunity to at least check my email.

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I've been hoping that's the case, Koshka, thank you. I don't know what sort of hotels she'll be staying in but I've been hoping those Internet cafes would be readily available.

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Vagansmom:

 

Hello again. I think the discount phone numbers Magda referred to are the "10-10-220" type numbers. You can go online and/or pay attention to the (irritating) commercials, but many are 5 or 8 cents a minute to certain contries overseas. They really do represent a savings, and require no up front fee, memberships, etc. You can always have a system where daughter calls you with a phone number, taking only long enough to call, and you call right back with the 10-10-XYZ prefix and then the number. So even if she is moving from place to place, she can call from a pay phone or hotel phone and you can call back at a much reduced cost. I am excited to learn she will be touring. (Will PM you about any Nutmeg plans as they develop. Ahhh, to live in a community close to such a fine school.)

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Tell me more about the discount phone numbers. I'm not sure what you're referring to.

We use the "YAK" line here in Toronto: 10 15 945 + the number. When I'm "home" at my mom's on Long Island, I see lots of ads on TV for similar numbers in New York. It comes out to a fraction of what it would cost dialing the number without the "prefix".

 

I'm glad you enjoyed reading how we handled the arrangements for our daughter. I was afraid that maybe I went on too long about it! I always feel that I need to be careful on this site and rein in my thoughts. I'm used to bantering on other forums I'm involved with!

 

Your daughter's tour sounds wonderful! I know what you mean about terrorist concerns. The less time spent in an airplane, the better! Every mother who sends her child off in a plane must feel nervous until safe landing. When my daughter traveled to Miami for her SI in 2002, flying for the first time AND alone, I was with her every second of the flight in spirit. May your daughter's trips all go exceedingly well and with nothing but great adventure to report.

 

My daughter's friend, who is starting her 2nd year in Moscow, had a "close call" of sorts last year. She and her parents, who were visiting, had just 2 weeks earlier gone to the show at the theatre which was invaded by the Chechnyan rebels and where many, many deaths occurred, especially after the rescue mission. My heart was with her as the Bolshoi Ballet School locked its doors and students were only allowed out with special permission and in groups to go to the store and such. At the risk of sounding like those women who tell childbirth horror stories to every mother who's pregnant, I relate this one. It, of course, involves a known volatile region of the world and is more likely to happen there than in other cities.

 

Still, we now know that no place is safe anymore, until all terrorists are eradicated, and as adults we no longer feel secure sending our kids away from us. Fortunately, our children retain the sense of adventure we once had embarking on new experiences and are less afraid then we. It's thanks to the eternal belief system of youth that nothing bad can happen to them. Without it, they could not step confidently into the world.

 

Have you considered equipping your daughter with calling cards while she's overseas? My husband left our daughter his calling card when he returned home and she used it to call me one afternoon. We were able to talk for a few minutes until it wound down and then continued the call with me phoning her when she got home a few minutes later.

 

The wonderful thing about my daughter's network of friends is that her strongest support has come from those we didn't expect would give her so much of their time and themselves (not to mention the fresh cucumbers and tomatoes from their garden!). We thought certain other members of our extended family to be the most likely folks to keep in contact with her. Her social experiences have deepened our (my husband's and my) relationships with the people who have been so kind and helpful to her. What a nice offshoot of it all!

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It really sounds wonderful, Marqa. I'd feel pretty confident about my kiddo's experience with such friendly support in place. One of the reasons I've always tried to be a welcoming person to residents at my daughter's former ballet school is that I know what a relief it is to their parents! Daughter's been the recipient herself of generous acts from many fine people (some of them BA'ers).

 

Yes, the frequent air travel is what's bugging me the most about my kid's touring. I realize that statistically it's probably a silly fear. But I guess that's what parenthood is all about. I remember that Moscow Chechnyan terrorism. Some young Irish dancing kids were among the victims. The school went to that theater performance because of the dancing in it. Also, their studios were in the same building. Very chilling.

 

Thanks to both nlkflint and you for sharing your phone info. I've copied it all and will start figuring out what' s best for our situation.

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This is my first post although I have been an avid reader of this site for some time. I have a 17 year old daughter who is training away for her second year (although at a different program than last year) and a daughter who is studying for the semester in Australia so this topic is of particular interest to me. What has prompted me to write (as I watch Masters Jeopardy with a "Ballet" category) is the phone card question. We received a recommendation to sign up for an IDT account prior to our daughter's departure for Australia and it has been wonderful. It is very economical and tied to a credit card so that it sutomatically "recharges" when the balance gets low. We have found that she has been able to remain in contact with us and with all of her friends at her school here without breaking the bank. She signed up for the card on line at the IDT website. I highly recommend it.

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walmack, I hereby welcome you "out of the cyber closet" and thank you for your input! :wink::wacko::) I hope you'll continue to post on Ballet Talk now that you've made your first move.

 

Is this the link to IDT?

:thumbsup:

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