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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Ballet phobia hits new peak.


boyngirl

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This is a doozy of a story, but I have to tell it to someone so hope you guys will understand.

 

I took my kids to auditions for a local Ballet company's future production.

We were there for about 30 mins for my son's audition (8 yrs old). After that, about an hour wait for a meeting for all parents of prospective dancers for the show. My son has been at the school for 3 years, done performances several times over the years. My son is friends with a couple of the other boys - good enough friends to do everything from get in trouble for racing around the studio to fighting/wrestling. I heard a lot of commotion in the dressing room, so I checked on the kids several times. There were boys from 6-14 in the room.

 

At one point I left for 10 minutes to run for coffee.

 

When I got back I was told that there was some problem in the dressing room and a new boy had come out of the dressing room and said my son claimed to say something like 'I'm gay and I'm going to hump you all', and the boy said the whole thing was really gross.

I knew my son probably didn't even know the second word, but he was called gay on the bus about a year ago (big to do over that, apology letter issued by the kid once I told the kids mom).

So, after speaking with the other moms for a minute, in which I pointed out that this was so far just one boy's statement about some activity in the dressing room which none of the parents had seen, I went to speak with my son.

 

This might sound like wishful thinking, but he is really really honest, in a way that I don't understand. He's probably only tried to fib about 2xs in his whole life.

In this case I was immensely grateful that this was true.

I asked him about the whole thing and he said that there was some fighting, even trash cans involved, apparently. I am imagining that one of the boys or all the other boys wanted to stop and my son didn't get the memo...anyway he said that the other kids started calling him gay.

 

I explained all this to the other parents, that my son is extremely honest, his description of things, including the fact that I know my son can be over active and a bit of a pest - sometimes you have to be really firm if you want him to stop some annoying activity. I also pointed out that he is 8.

At that point, much to my dismay, another mom comes in to say my son is annoying the other boys in the meeting (parents meeting which I am missing).

The most agitated of the moms (mom to the accusing child) said that all this DID HAPPEN. I said again, well we know for a fact what your son said. My son said something completely different, and I would appreciate it if the other parents would speak with their children about using terms like that.

I also told her I would appreciate it if she would not over-react to something her child said. She never once said anything about her son's reliability as far as story-telling goes. Story telling is great, as long as it doesn't hurt people.

The other two moms were just nodding their heads. The most upset mom said I would act the same way if my son was threatened. I said I would not. She then called me a bad mom. :) Nice.

 

I went to get him, he was sitting alone, not fussing with anyone.

I asked him again if anything else had happened in the dressing room and got the same details again.

I went back to the other moms,

 

repeated what I said and stated that I thought the conversation should end and left. I went in the back and cried for a while. I didn't care who saw me, it just seemed ridiculous and unfair that my son was getting picked on by kids who usually never engage in such bad behavior, and further that the child who was apparently lying, is considered 'threatened' by my son.

 

After I cleaned myself up, I was leaving and the director came to find out what was going on - she then told me that this child's father was very against ballet, dancing, he basically thought it was an activity only for girls (read here, also gay men / predatory men). I am not lumping gay with predatory, but I could tell that was where this 'man' was coming from. Ug. Well as far the director was concerned that explained things. She said she'd never had any issue with my son, he is wonderful. She was just concerned because this new boy could really enjoy dancing if his dad wasn't that way. (A dancephobic jerk) <--my words.

I told her I was prepared for this at school, but really haven't had much problem there, but I was completely not prepared for this at the ballet school.

 

Anyway, we had some really great news - both kids are likely to do the show, so that is very nice, but the whole thing was nearly spoiled by this crazy scene.

 

In the end the mom came out to my car and apologized, up to a point, explained about her husband, just about implying they are mid-divorce or something and she herself was just in tears. She really wanted this opportunity for her son and was just praying that he didn't make a big deal at home about it in front of the dad. AAAAh. I gave her a hug and sent her on her way, no real hard feelings, just sort of shock still.

 

Well things I am very grateful for: A boy who is so honest he is a real pita to live with, you can't get away with anything around him!

A husband who is not only 'ok' with our son dancing, but fully supports it, contributing by driving, planning, helping with sets for shows, etc.

 

This lady told me over and over how lucky I was. I sure didn't feel that way at first.

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I am happy things turned out positively. I would ask where is the supervision at this facility? Not because words were exchanged, but because an obvious fun fest was had in the dressing room, an obvious parental bruhaha was had somewhere, you had time to go back and ask your son again what happened while parents were still gathering to talk, and then finally someone from the school noticed that there were problems? That is quite a bit of time where obvious problems were occuring in a building with no one from the building itself taking a stand? No stand was taken with all the boys involved but parents were allowed to argue amongst themselves about it? Sorry, I'm not seeing this as being handled well on alot of fronts.

 

I can't help but add this tidbit though, because as I was reading your post, I kept thinking if you were actually verbalizing this to me face to face, I would say it to you nicely and with much respect. In parental conflict, one never gets very far if one brings up how "extremely honest" one's own child is. Veteran parents will know that even the best child will sling a few every now and again no matter how innately honest they are. Or at the very least leave out a few details which can slant the story while keeping it honest technically. And to say it to another parent automatically pushes that parent to feel that what you are saying is your child is telling the truth so therefore theirs must be not doing so. It puts them in defense mode. Most times when that is done in conflict, the conflict escalates before it gets better as it did here. That is not to say that your child is not extremely honest. In fact, he most likely is. But I've mentioned it rather to show that saying so has a double meaning to the other parent hearing it and might have escalated the parental side of this conflict.

 

Sorry, that's the school teacher side of me showing up and the parental side of me whose last child is 8 and oldest 20. Hopefully after this incident, what will be addressed by the studio is not only the verbage that occured so that this environment is one free of those type of words by anyone, but also the behavior that might have started out as playing but lasted long enough to turn into something ugly in the first place. (and that with the kids AND the parents)

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That does not sound like fun at all! I hate it when things like that happen-- the boys get in an altercation of some sort, no adults witnessed it, every kid tells his parents a different story, etc. When those things happen to me, I tend to shrug it off (even if my child was the one hurt or offended) because there's no way to get to the truth of the matter. It's challenging when a parent is demanding an apology for something your kid swears he didn't do!

 

YOur story reminds me of a complaint I often have about boys in the ballet world-- I have found they are often under-supervised in the dressing rooms (and young boys probably need more direct supervision than girls!). Moms can usually go into the girls dressing rooms, and there are often long lists of mothers who volunteer to be dressing-room mothers. But, moms can't go in the boys dressing rooms as easily, and dads are often too busy or unavailable to volunteer. The boys' teacher (often female) promises to "look in on them" or the oldest boy in the room (usually a young teen) is given the responsibility to keep things quiet and under control, but problems like the one you ran into happen in a heartbeat.

 

My 10 year old son recently danced the role of Fritz in a large Nut performance, but he was the only boy in the production. All the boy roles were played by girls in wigs except for a few hired adult male professionals. THe day before the dress rehearsal it finally occured to me-- hey! who's watching my kid? I couldn't do it-- he was sharing a dressing room with these adult male dressing rooms. Then it occured to me--hey! I don't know a thing about these men! Do I really want my son hanging out with them unsupervised? There were elaborate parent-volunteer lists and training meetings and such but I hadn't been invited to any of them since my son was a "guest artist" like the adult males. I called the school and quite honestly it hadn't occured to any of them my son even needed supervising. Luckily my husband was at a point in his job that he was able to take some time off for the 2 dress rehearsals and 5 performances. He usually is unable to take time off work, and I don't know what I would have done if he couldn't have done so.

 

It also reminds me of our first day at a large company ballet school. We were waiting in the lounge for class to start, and my 8 year old son needed to go to the bathroom. I pointed down the hall and he left for a few minutes. When he returned his eyes were as wide as plates and he looked pale. Apparently, the bathroom was part of the boys locker room and teenage boys were walking around naked, showering, and chasing each other around snapping towels at each other. My 8 year old son really had no business going into a teenage boy locker room, but it was the only bathroom available to him! The mothers all accompanied their young girls into the girls locker room when they needed to use the bathroom, but I certainly couldn't go with my son into the boys locker room! Again, he is left unsupervised.

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I know this is a bit offtopic, but we have solved the chaperone problem in the past by having an adult in a chair outside the dressing room. The parent volunteer can hear if anything ensues and can make sure stage calls are made on time, be available for assistance with costume problems, etc. Yet the boys still had some privacy.

 

boyngirl - I'm sorry something that should've been positive turned into something so dramatic.

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Thanks folks,I completely agree about the supervision - I am not allowed in the room, either :clapping:

Often dad is around for these things, especially at show time, but I like the idea of a chair outside, or maybe even separate for 14yrs + or something like that...?

 

Momof3 - good point, this is my oldest so I have lots of bumps to hit in future, I'm sure. Thanks for the good advice :devil:

 

Anyhow it did all turn out 'ok', I do hope the other mom doesn't feel too rotten, and frankly I haven't had a chance to touch base yet with one of the other moms, but she has been around my son for quite a while so I think she already knew that nothing serious was up.

Big sigh.

Onward! :green:

 

(Oh, and on the supervision question - yes the director intended to hear the whole thing out, but got dragged away, and the whole thing just moved forward like a runaway train...I would have preferred more info/support from her, but I think she did intend to be there. )

Edited by boyngirl
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