Another One Bites the Dust

Oh my, am I on a rampage or what? No-this time it wasn’t another fictional character-but ballet. Yes-we have reached the end of ballet, at least for the present time.

As I said in a previous post-I never thought Hazel would continue doing it beyond the age of five. I thought the repetitiveness of it all would send her running-it did not. I was of two minds keeping them in the classes-I knew they enjoyed it and the exercise was good. I also felt that if Hazel really liked it she needed a more challenging school, which just seems too pushy. Also-once Hazel is comfortable in a routine, she doesn’t want to stop it-not because it’s best for her, but because it’s most comfortable.

And I think that once we saw them doing Irish, we knew it was better for them. Their faces absolutely glow doing Irish dancing. The two of them come alive during Irish dancing. They love the music, the pace, and learning the different dances-it’s not just about mastering the same step over and over. The Irish class always has something new to learn. The teacher ‘promotes’ the kids all in the same class on an individual basis, though they are all in the same class. Currently there are four levels having lessons at the same time. All the children have started within a year of each other-and are progressed on at their own pace. They can learn something new as soon as they are ready. The music is played at a pace that suits the individual or small group; they can take ‘exams’ as and when the child asks. Though Kieran & Hazel started together-she is about ‘3 months’ ahead of Kieran-yet they are still in the same class-they just practice at different speeds. The instructor generally has 1 or 2 helpers for 15 children. Even still, she makes time for one-on-one time with almost every child in the class. Honestly-she’s a great teacher for my two. They are driven-but ever so gently to keep doing their best and to constantly learn something new.

In ballet we’ve had to encourage the teacher to put Hazel up-she was reluctant as Hazel was younger by about 2 years than most of the kids. Kieran wasn’t going up because the two other boys in his class weren’t ready-yet we didn’t care about that-nor did Kieran.

But the straw that broke the camel’s back was a few days ago. When Hazel originally signed up for the ballet competition, the dance was supposed to be taught in class over the term. This didn’t happen. Then over the past couple of weeks she had 2 private lessons to learn the routine. She was then told to go and practice and good luck. Umm-not what I was expecting. I said she’d need another lesson or two-so we agreed to have that over the break. During this time Hazel didn’t seem to want to practice.

We went on Monday where the 2 other girls who were also competing (in different divisions) were there. When Hazel got on the stage-she actually blushed. You have to know Hazel to understand what a big deal that is. I think it’s only about the 2nd time in her life I’ve actually seen her blush. Hazel has been on stage before, she is not stage shy. But-she is a perfectionist-and the thought of doing a dance she didn’t know perfectly was almost too much for her. She carried on-but I could see she knew she wasn’t ready. It pained me to watch her being uncomfortable up there. I’m sure if she’d have proper lessons with the routine-she’d perfect it soon enough. But to ask her to do that on her own is a bit much.

This last ‘lesson’ we went to was a half-hour long. The girls ran through their routines 3 times each and then basically practiced how to walk on and off the stage and how to talk to the judges. Not what Hazel needed. After Hazel’s last run-through the teacher pointed out something she needed to work on-and that was it. I was then asked for money to pay for the hall. Hazel looked so unsure of herself at the end of it. I paid up and said we’d have another session-as I knew she would need it. We left.

And I swore to myself-it was the end. I’ve been wanting to end it for ages, but haven’t as the kids like it. But then again-they ‘like’ everything, and once in a routine, see no need to change it. I’ve been fighting with myself over this for years. I’d be the perfect pushy mom if I let myself. I just feel that if we are going to spend our time and money on an activity-and if they are good at it-then they should do it as well as possible. But how to do it without pushing too hard?

I went home and sent an email to their Irish teacher to see if there was another lesson they could do. Perfect timing-as she was about to ask if they could do a possible Saturday class in the next month or so and if they could start entering feis’. Not a problem I say-just let me know when! Yeah! Now I had a ‘replacement’ class. But how to broach it with Hazel? Kieran I knew would jump ship easily enough-he doesn’t have too strong a tie for ballet. (And yes-Michael was consulted as well)

For two days she didn’t practice for the competition, and any time I mentioned it I pretty much came up against a blank look–but I will not make them practice for anything. I’ll mention it, but never make it mandatory. (Though they do know it is a must for musical instruments if they want the lessons to continue.) I knew she didn’t want to do it anymore-but that she didn’t know how to say so. Michael put the music on for her yesterday and she did the dance about four times. But with no enthusiasm-other than getting it done with.

So I finally decided it was time for a chat. First-I’d deal with the competition. While the 3 of us were discussing it at the table-I could just tell she didn’t want to go–but was too unsure about making the leap. She came and sat on my lap and I asked her if she wanted me to do the mom thing and say that she couldn’t do the competition,- and she clung to my neck and said yes. (Yeah!) One down-one more thing to conquer!

Then we call Kieran in so we can talk about dropping ballet for now and concentrating on Irish for 2 terms. I knew there would be the usual resistance to breaking their routine-but Kieran was excited and Hazel started smiling in minutes. As we said to them-watching them dance is wonderful, especially when they do a reels as their faces come alive. I so want to see them enjoying things-but drawing that line as to when is it pushing too hard and when is it a gentle nudge, can be very hard.

I know-some will say it was coercive and they should make up their own minds-but I think sometimes people do need that nudge to go on and make a break from the comfortable and try something new. These are actually really hard decisions for 6 & 7 year olds to make on their own, and I guess this is what being a parent is all about.

The door to ballet hasn’t been locked-it can be returned to, but with conditions. If she really wants to pursue it she has to be the one to ask (she won’t), but only after giving 2 lessons a week in Irish a chance for 2 terms, and only at a different ‘pushier’ ballet school.

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