As spring approached, some local friends began signing their preschoolers up for activities. My husband and I decided to sign the girls up for a round of swim lessons because we consider swimming to be an important life skill. I declined offers to engage my preschooler in weekend soccer leagues or running clubs. We have many years of weekend extracurricular commitments ahead of us. Really, though, I was not ready to be a soccer mom.
Since October, however, we have had our preschooler enrolled in a dance class. We haven’t taken our kids to music class because they go to a childcare facility every day where they provide some of the activities periodically. My daughter expressed an interest in dance class and our local JCC had a seemingly low-key dance program (no mandatory dress code and lower tuition), so we signed her up.
I had extremely low expectations for dance class. I just hoped to see some actual dancing at home. My preschooler closely guarded her dance moves. She won’t shake it for just anyone or just anywhere. Any actual dancing we’ve seen has been a big event. The few parents who come to class began to piece together the recital number with bits of information from their three and four-year olds–we collectively discovered the music (“Twinkle Twinkle”) and some of the tap routine (Shuffle one, shuffle two).
Let’s face it: the dance class is totally about us.
My husband was actually the one who thought dance class would be a fun idea, and my schedule was flexible enough that I could get her there on Tuesdays at 3:45pm. Week after week she shooed me out of the class and week after week I snuck in at the end, hoping to catch a little bit of tap dancing. Though I had avoided being a soccer mom temporarily, I was squarely turning into a dance mom.
And Tuesday is her very first dance recital.
The dance recital both delights and horrifies me. The costume (which cost more than I thought it would) looks like exactly the costume you’d want to wear if you were four years old. There are sequins and a puffy tutu and it’s pink (a color she loves). It is also a fake off the shoulder leotard–really? She’s four and it’s too soon for her to understand that a little shoulder shake will bring the boys to the yard.
Dress rehearsal day was a dizzying two hours. I brought my preschooler to the JCC dance studio and found a complete and utter zoo of sequins and chiffon, fluff and fuzz. There were so many tutus that even I was overwhelmed, but somehow my little sweetheart was not nervous at all–she shooed me away like it was any old Tuesday afternoon.
In the audience, I cheered her on audibly. I whispered the routine to myself and whisper praised her when I knew she nailed the steps. She was dancing!
As a sociologist mom, I am simply trying not to be Frances McDormand in Almost Famous. I want to raise liberated, self-assured daughters but I cannot help it if they love a fluffy tutu. And I have to get over the fact that my pride in these early accomplishments makes me a temporary walking contradiction. I thought I was a reluctant dance mom but it turns out I’m pretty proud, too.