Monday, July 11, 2011

Awkward Mom vs. the Dance Class

Probably should have named this one Awkward Mom vs. half the Dance Class.....that would more accurately represent who won the battle.

So, Super Toddler has shown a burgeoning interest in dance for awhile. The child took his sweet time learning how to walk, but since then he has certainly branched out into skipping, twirling, and a bizarre concoction that is a little bit Charleston, a smidgen Jitterbug, and mostly we all fall down. Since most of his bedtime stories take place at a ball, I suppose his dance interest is no big surprise. His current dance idols are Elmo, the man who gets all wet (aka Gene Kelly), and the man who dances on the ceiling (aka Fred Astaire...although, I am sure Super Toddler would be enamored of Lionel Richie as well. Just haven't found that one on YouTube yet).

Well, being the Super Hero Mom that I am, I thoughtfully enrolled him in a dance class.

(Full disclosure requires us to point out that it was Marvelous Toddler's parents who enrolled her in said class and passed on the information to Awkward Mom.)

Anyway, back to my wonderfully thoughtful mothering: I enroll him in a dance class. A class that is aimed at 3-4 year olds to "teach fun and creative dance in a playful, musical setting." Yes, please memorize that, it comes back up. Especially the playful and musical parts.

So, being the good mother that I am, I talk up the class for several days, getting him terribly excited about being able to dance on a "real dance floor," with other "dancers." I, sadly, have to kill his dreams about tutus and tap shoes, but he is still pretty happy about the prospect of this dance class, as we head out to the studio. Plenty early, just to make sure we find it. My ongoing war with getting lost is forever raging....

2 wrong turns later, I pull into the parking lot of the dance studio, 15 minutes early! Sometimes (rarely, but still) my super-time-skills fire on all cylinders. We make our bumbling way in and meet the teacher. Her complete lack of ability in talking to children should be setting off some alarms, but there is fun music playing and I really really want this for Super Toddler. While Super Baby takes off across the huge dance floor and Super Toddler asks the teacher the whereabouts of Elmo, I scan the room and the walls full of photos of past dancers. There is not one male dancer to be seen. I feel the soft alarm bells start to ring, but I am forced to ignore them in my mad dash to rescue the stereo system from Super Baby's curious fingers.

Thankfully, the class starts about then. I stash Super Baby next to some legos, but my thankfulness starts to wane almost immediately. The class seems to consist of 2 other students (Marvelous Toddler has not yet arrived); both Amazonian girls. I am still not convinced either one was really 3, despite what their parents said. One is asleep, her parents having brought her straight from her nap, and the other one is to put this politely? Well, basically, she is Perfect Toddler, from her hair bow to her gleaming patent leather shoes. Let's just say her attitude matches her shoes and hair bow. The music is shut off and the children are told to form a circle on the floor of the seating area, just within sight of the shiny dance floor. Super Toddler's disappointment is palpable. Perfect Toddler perches primly next to the teacher. Sleepy Toddler is propped up on a bench by her parents, and Super Toddler decides to roll into the circle like a log from the doorway. This provokes the first (of many) "Now, Super Toddler, please sit down" from the teacher.

Each child is asked to say and spell their name. (Still not entirely sure what spelling has to with dance, but I am game at this point.) Perfect Toddler spells hers perfectly, big surprise. Sleepy Toddler just stares at the teacher, but her eyes are open, so I suppose that is a start. Her name is spelled for her, via her parents. Super Toddler spells his; with a wink and an extra X, just for kicks. He is corrected by the teacher for his troubles. He is also told that he needs to sit in a crossed legged position, like Perfect Toddler. He starts looking back at me with some worry.

The teacher begins with rules of the dance studio. This is a very long list that I (and I imagine the normal 3-year-olds in the room) immediately forget. The big one appears to be no running, as, and this is a direct quote, "you could fall into the mirrors and they could break and kill you." OK. Can't exactly argue that one, but still......

OK, so, time for dance? No. It appears that we need to stretch. OK. Well, I suppose that makes sense. There are 3 to 4 different stretches. Super Toddler doesn't know any of them and tries for awhile. However, pretty soon, this decidedly "non-dance" activity and the tantalizing presence of the dance floor start to get to him, and he is interspersing his attempts at stretches with attempts at escape. The next 10 minutes sounds like this: "Good job, Perfect Toddler. Super Toddler, sit down, please. Let's do our butterflies! Can you do a butterfly, Super Toddler? Sit down, Super Toddler. Look at Perfect Toddler, do what she is doing. Want to join us, Sleepy Toddler? Sit down please, Super Toddler. Let's make a bridge with our legs. A bridge, Super Toddler. Come on, you can do it. Sit down, please! Excellent work, Perfect Toddler. Like Perfect Toddler, Super Toddler. Just like her. Sit down please!" Super Toddler rolls over to me and whispers, "when do we dance?" I urge him to return to the circle, as the teacher turns to the assembled parents and says "there is always one, in every class."

Alarm bells? Pealing full force.

The teacher moves the class to the middle of the dance floor, so I attempt to breathe and give this a chance. I am hoping for music. None is forthcoming. The teacher tells the children (Sleepy Toddler has followed them out there) to sit in a circle for more stretches. I am distracted in an attempt to keep Super Baby off the dance floor, but I can feel Super Toddler roll his eyes. He tries one more butterfly (I think he just likes the name) before giving up entirely and turning away to make faces in the mirrored wall. The teacher is giving a speech about listening and following the leader when Marvelous Toddler shows up. Super Toddler is thrilled. He bounds over to embrace her, completely ignoring the teacher's lecture on running and disrupting the class. Perfect Toddler is asked to demonstrate the appropriate stretches for Marvelous Toddler and it appears that stretch time is going to be repeated. Super Toddler is not having it. He tells the teacher he is tired of stretches and wants to dance, please. I have a brief moment of gratitude for the please, before melting into the floor. The teacher instructs Super Toddler to go sit with his mother, while turning and stage whispering to the Perfect Parents that boys can be so interested in their own way sometimes.

Super Toddler reluctantly comes and sits by me. He asks where the music is and if there is going to be ceiling dancing or not. I ask him if he wants to leave. He says no, but he would like some music. I fight the urge to agree with him and ask him to follow the teacher if he wants to stay. He nods and returns to the circle where is appears they are at last allowed to stand. There is some activity involving teddy bears, but I miss it entirely as Super Baby has discovered the bathroom and is merrily playing the toilet. This extraction takes some time, so I miss Super Toddler's big rebellion. I can hear it however, and it sounds like this: "something, something, teddy bear, Super Toddler, please stop twirling, stop it, stop it, crash, bang."

I turn to see the teacher restraining my oldest child; his legs flailing and her nostrils flaring. I put Super Baby down and head across the dance floor. I ask if he should sit out, and she tells me that he needs to leave. She hands Super Toddler to me, while I stare at her. She tells me that he is clearly not ready and there is nothing wrong with that (although all her body language is telling me that there is) and that he is just too interested in his own way to fully engage in the class. We won't want to ruin it for everyone else, now, would we? I numbly nod at her. He is welcome when he can learn to interact properly and thank you for coming. I pick up Super Baby (howling since his interrupted playdate with the bathroom) and I walk Super Toddler past the wall of shame the other parents have erected. Super Toddler starts frantically looking back at Marvelous Toddler and pulling on my hand.

"Why are we leaving, Mommy? Class isn't over."

"Well, sweetie, we have to go. It is time for us to go."

"Why, Mommy? Why?"

"It just is, Sugar."

His lower lip trembles and the tears start flying. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I just want to dance!"

"I know, baby, but we need to go now." The lameness of my answers are ricocheting all over the beautiful acoustics of the room, and I glance back in just time to see Perfect Toddler's parting smirk. 3-years-old, my foot.

It is one of the longest and most exhausting car loadings in recent memory. I am so grateful once we are finally safe in our car that I pull out of the parking lot like something out of the Fast and the Furious. I want to put distance between me and the scene of the crime before I let the tears fall. And fall they do, as soon as I pull over onto a shady tree-lined side street to let the self-pity completely take over. I am pondering my complete and absolute failure as a mother when a little voice in the backseat beckons me.

I look into the rear view mirror to see my rebel child smiling at me like a beautiful rainbow. "Mommy, don't worry. It's OK. Don't worry. Please don't cry, I love you. I had a good time, Mommy. Don't cry. I love you." 3-years-old, my foot.

So, immediately after this one, Awkward Mom took the Super Boys to Toy R Us and bought them anything they wanted. BabyCenter can kiss it.


  1. I hate that teacher even more now that I've read this. It's her misfortune that she was so stuck on being in perfect control that she will never experience the joy that is Will. More for us. Horrid woman.

  2. Ugh! What a witch! Call and complain! What kind of dance class for 3-year-olds doesn't allow 3-year-olds to DANCE!! I wish you lived closer. We could make up our own dance class! You are not "a failure as a mother". You are a great mom to not have punched her in the throat. I may have been tempted. :)

  3. The toddler must be super excited for this, I would have just loved to see them dancing.

  4. Thanks for the comment, toddler dance classes. Went and looked at your site and I can only say I wish we lived in New Jersey!

  5. Thanks a lot for appreciating my site, we are into providing some dance classes for toddlers and little kiddoz. I really loved reading your posts.