this week, we went back to the barre in the dance studio. harper thought about her options at the end of dance last spring, and initially said she didn't want to dance again at all. when i explained that she could try a different class- tap, jazz or ballet by itself- she perked up and said that she wanted to do "just ballet." her reasoning? she didn't like the look of the black jazz shoes.
we talked about it all summer, and repeatedly confirmed her choice, to make sure she was happy with it. last weekend, we went and picked out a new leotard, this time all pink, and new shoes, since she grew out of the ones i bought with only 3 weeks left in dance last year.
on the way to the studio, she asked if the teacher would be the same. if the room would be the same. if the students would be the same. i assured her about the teacher and the room, but couldn't confidently say that each girl in last year's class would be returning to a "just ballet" class this year. turns out about half returned, which helped, but there were a ton of new faces, too. she walked in confidently, but i peered through the mirror a few minutes later, and she was being held by her dance teacher. apparently, she was a bit sad and shy about all the new girls. i don't think it helped that she was exhausted now that she's in a full-day of kindergarten.
we successfully twirled and pointed our way through day 1, and she does seem excited. on the way home, she informed me, however, that after this year, she didn't want to take dance again. i asked why, and she explained that it was because there would probably be too many kids in her dance class next year whom she didn't know. i thought for a moment about how to approach this parenting moment...i applauded her for deciding to stick it out for this year, and not give up on dance. i praised her for accepting this new challenge of a dance class with lots of little girls she doesn't know. i also explained that she can do anything she wants to do as long as it makes her happy. that she didn't have to not do something just because there might be people she doesn't know. that if dancing makes her happy and it's something she enjoys doing, then by all means, go out and dance, and who cares who's watching. that she shouldn't let anyone stop her from doing what she loves and what makes her happy.
i heard from the backseat a mild and meek and tired "ok." i have a feeling this is only the first of many of these conversations we'll be having, and it won't always be about taking a ballet 1 class. it's a conversation i have with myself many times, when i have to remember just to dance without caring, and to be a positive role model for my girls who are always watching even when i may not know it.