Her first non-drop-in, non-parented class (!)
She was so excited!
The week before, we went to the dance store to pick out her clothes & ballet slippers. She was in tutu heaven! Dress up is her thang! She was over the moon to get home to try on her outfit. We decided that bodysuit and skirt would be for class only, so bathing suits and play tutus quickly became the go-to choice of clothing (...for the last month.)
We also chose some books about ballet at the library that week. We both enjoyed a board book called Bea at Ballet. I was drawn to the images and style of the book, and it was age appropriate for Halle. The librarian helped us find the Talulah ballet series picture books. These are beautifully illustrated, too, and the ballet stories are on point ;) (Harhar! I couldn't resist...) Halle sat and listened to them when we had one on one time, and because she was all about ballet, but they may be better suited for someone a little older or school aged.
And it did not go as I expected...
We arrived early and put on her skirt and slippers with the other 2.5 - 3.5 year old girls. Some of them had taken class in the Fall and others were there for their first class, like us. Some seemed to know each other, or the parents did, some didn't. Classes take place at our community lake house, so I would assume most families live in our neighbourhood or not far. I'm hoping this will be a way for us to make friends in our area. That is if I have a chance to chat with these parents...
After getting ready in the change room we went downstairs with the other girls to wait outside the classroom door. There is a session right before so the students quickly swap out. Halle was all smiles, patiently waiting to meet her teacher. When the door opened, and the older girls came out, she ran on in skipping and twirling with the other girls. Their teacher stood in the doorway to say a quick hello and explain how things work. As mentioned, this is a non-parented class with the door closed so parents do not get to watch until the end of the season recital. Sometimes the door is left open on the first day so that the children can get comfortable, but since everyone had run I eagerly, she was going to try closing the door. And just as she did, Halle, who was out of my sight, came running and crying "I don't want to do ballet!"
In that minute where I couldn't see her from the huddle of parents in the doorway, what changed?
Was it because she couldn't see me? Was it the door closing? Was it the other girls? Was she scared?
She took off up the stairs, "I don't want to do ballet."
It crossed my mind that we signed up for the nap time class, because the morning one was full, so maybe she was just tired?
Either way, I was shocked. Hadn't she just pranced in to the room?
But my friendly, typically fearless girl didn't want to go by herself.
Understandably, this was her first activity without me by her side or within eye sight. But I had underestimated her level of attachment. Despite thinking I had prepared her by telling her she got to dance with the big girls and her teacher all by herself while mommy and sis waited outside the door, she wasn't ready.
After a few minutes of waiting outside the open door, she was persuaded to enter when the teacher took out tiaras and magic wands.
She still spent most of the class sitting near me on the outside of the room. Occasionally she got up to take a prop or did what the girls were doing far away from the group.
For the rest of the week, whenever we'd talk about ballet or I'd tell family or friends how her class went, she'd say "Halle no like ballet, my crying." Was she saying this because she heard me saying it or was she really upset? And the most troubling one, she said "me can't do it."
Can't. Heartbreaking words from your child when it comes to learning something. Where did she even hear can't? Where did she learn that idea?
We continued to talk positively about ballet and explain that she would have fun learning how to dance at class. Luckily, dancing at home, dressing like a ballerina, and requesting (itty bitty) buns in her hair was still in full swing!
Week two, daddy was off work and brought her to class. Unfortunately there was a substitute teacher which didn't really help to maintain the level of consistency and comfort for Halle to get used to class. But she tried, with Matthew on the sidelines, of course. It sounds like she improved and ventured to the group a little more. She certainly was excited to have daddy with her :)
The next week, Autumn and I went with her again. We had had an early rise that day so I put Halle down for nap before class. I anticipated she would just have quiet time in her room, since we didn't have much time before we had to leave for dance. She ended up falling asleep which meant I had to wake her, after a not near long enough rest. She was tired and of course this brought on the emotions of not wanting to go to ballet. We were a few minutes late, but it worked out okay, because she had a mini meltdown outside the classroom door. When she calmed down, we entered the classroom quietly and Autumn and I sat by the door once again. This time, Halle joined the group. She did almost all of the activities, used props, waited her turn, and stayed with the other girls, except when they were on our side of the room ;)
I was so proud to see these improvements! We left class feeling positive!
Dance is cancelled this week because of the Family Day holiday. Hopefully that won't affect next week's session. With baby steps, the goal will be for her to go in by herself. I'm hoping if we can make connections with the other families she will feel more comfortable going without me knowing she has a friend or friends.
So, ballet has been a learning and growing experience for us all! It really is exciting to watch her grow up and to be doing her first 'real' 'big girl' activity. It has come with surprises but it has come with smiles watching how much she loves to dance at home and how much fun she is having being a ballerina.
I hope she continues to improve and enjoy class as much as she loves dancing with us. And I want her to know she can do it!
And that she can do and be whatever she wants to be, for that matter.
Dream big & keep twirling little one xoxo