Dancing Girls

2013-04-18 17.19.36Sorry to disappoint anyone, but my dancing-girls are ages ten and six. We just finished up a long recital weekend. I’m drained and I’m not even a dancer. The girls performed Friday night, Saturday night and again this afternoon. The show lasted three hours and forty-five minutes minimum. Yes, you read that correctly – three hours and forty-five minutes times three shows equals almost twelve hours of my weekend I’ll never get back.

When other mom’s told me the recital would be long, I had no idea how long. Both my girls started dancing when they were three years old. However, this was the first year they took dance at a full-blown, competitive dance studio. Prior to that my girls were at the lazy-mom’s dance studio. We loved Ms. Karen’s. The girls got to perform in two recitals a year instead of just one. In addition to that, there were no costumes or hair/makeup requirements. It didn’t matter if you had a side pony or a high pony. She didn’t care if you wore pink tights or tan tights. You could wear black shoes or whites shoes or tan shoes. Ms. Karen’s  focused on dancing, having fun, building self-esteem and getting the kids on the stage. Besides the monthly lesson fee and tap/jazz shoes, I only had to buy a $10 t-shirt and some black leggings for recital day. The recital was only one day and only lasted an hour. Ms. Karen broke up her classes into three separate one-hour recitals instead of one mega-long recital. In the six years my girls danced with Ms. Karen there was only one time when the girls were in two different recitals.

Sadly, Ms. Karen closed her dance studio two summers ago to focus on her daycare center. My girls were devastated. I was devastated and so was my pocketbook. Last year, in an attempt to circumvent the inevitability of enrolling them in the high-end dance studio, we tried the only other dance studio nearby. This place focused mainly on gymnastics, but offered several dance classes. Neither of the girls made it past the December recital. My oldest took jazz and there was only one other girl in her class. She didn’t show up for the recital and my daughter ended up doing a solo dance. She was a trooper though and did a great job. The youngest didn’t like doing “ballet” and thought her $60-costume was too itchy. Lucky for me, we weren’t committed to a year-long program and didn’t return for the spring session.

Which brings us back to the high-end dance studio. Don’t get me wrong the production was spectacular, the costumes were adorable and the girls had a great time. It’s just the mommy-stress of it all, the expensive costumes, getting their hair just so, making sure their headband went the right direction and that the tights had no holes that got to me. That and the waiting around for hours. The girls were each in one number, but we couldn’t leave as everyone danced in the grand finale at the end of the show. By 9:30 PM we were all tired and grouchy.

I’m not sure what we’ll do next year. I wish I could find a happy, medium dance studio… I’m guessing I’ll be sitting in the dressing room doing hair and makeup, and waiting for the grand finale. My youngest is more excited than ever about dance now and wants to do baton too. My oldest was ready to quit, but a friend doing hip-hop convinced her to dance another year. On the bright-side, I have three months away from running the kids to and from various activities as after this afternoon all their activities are done until September. Yeah me!

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Poof! Problems Be Gone!

a-to-z-letters-pWhen the crazies take over my children and I’m about to lose it myself, I need a time out. While my kids burst into tears in anticipation of a dreaded time-out, I beg for one. Please, please, please send me to my room for the rest of the night! No television or video games for the rest of the week? All right! Grounded for a month? Bring it on! Go ahead and punish me:)

Actually instead of the typical scenario where I end up screaming at the kids and feeling horrible about losing my temper later, I’ve taken to giving myself a time-out to just take a deep breath and step away until I can get my emotions under control again. A couple weeks ago my youngest flipped out at dance class because her tap shoes hurt her feet. We tried on various pairs of used taps for sale at the dance studio, but none would suffice. She started throwing a huge tantrum and all the other mom’s were staring at us. I gave my daughter a choice of either wearing the taps she had and participating in her class or putting her tennis shoes back on so we could home. She flipped out even more and lay in the middle of the floor screaming about how she needed new shoes.

After trying to unsuccessfully reason with her (there was no where nearby that sold new tap shoes and class started ten mintues ago) I felt ready to explode. I told her I needed a time-out and went outside to sit on the steps. A few minutes later both daughters joined me outside. The tantrum-thrower still going at it in full force. I sent my oldest back inside to get her shoes and we walked to the car. She still wouldn’t put her shoes on so she walked in her stocking feet, sobbing about need new taps all the way.

The next week with tap shoes that fit perfectly she happily danced with her class. One of the women that worked at the dance studio told me that she admired how I’d handled the tap-shoe situation last week. She said instead of walking out she probably would have hauled her into the bathroom for a spanking. The thought did cross my mind briefly. I felt proud of myself though for not losing my cool.

Everyone needs time to chill out when problems seem overwhelming. Emotions get the best of us at one time or another. My girls especially get caught up in all-consuming dramas when things don’t go their way. About a month ago we created a “peace corner” AKA “Australia” in our living room. We named it “Australia” as that’s what my youngest’s kindergarten teacher named a similar corner in her classroom. I’m not sure why they call it “Australia,” but I’m guessing it has to do with Judith Viorst’s book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. If you’ve never read the book, the main character has a really bad day and after each bad thing that happens to him, he wants to run away to Australia.

Australia
Australia

Our “Australia” peace corner has bean bag chairs, pillows, stuffed animals, an iPod player with ear buds, a little water fountain, books, markers, papers and other quiet items in it. Now when one of the girls gets upset, they go chill to Australia until they calm themselves down. The new rule is if you’re crying and sobbing and carrying on about how unfair the world is or because you touched something that might make you sick, then you have to be in the peace corner. For the most part, the peace corner’s doing its job. We’ve had one or two incidents where both girls wanted to be in Australia at the same time and one morning where my youngest got mad and threw the bean bag chair across the room.  All in all though, the girls enjoy chilling out and regrouping in their safe, chill-out corner. Peace out!