A Dance Story...
You have to realize, first of all, that Gary has been talking for the past year of coaching Sydney in her first season of softball. He has loved coaching both Delaney's and McKenna's teams over the years and now that Sydney is almost 4, she can play her first year of what is called "Sweetees" softball at our girls park. After diving into much more competitive ball with Delaney now that she plays for a travel team, the allure of four-, five-, and six-year-old softball had become very appealing. All of us (Gary would coach, and the girls would be his assistants) had been looking forward to getting started and seeing how Sydney might do playing the sport that all of us love. Sure, she might not actually catch any balls or hit any homeruns, but she'd look cute chasing butterflies and dancing around in the outfield.
You all know that Sydney pretty much wears dresses 24/7; she loves to play dress-up; and we're all about the tea parties and tiaras. And lately, when we are talking to McKenna about college plans or Delaney talks about how much she wants to be a teacher someday, Sydney pipes in with, "I'm gonna be a ballerina when I grow up."
Now, Sydney has been looking forward to softball like the rest of us. She has practiced with Gary some in the backyard and even has a pink bat.
Gary and I have always been big proponents of not pushing our kids to do what WE want them to do, but to let them figure out their own interests. If Gary could have his choice, all three of the girls would be softball queens...and they would also just happen to all love to hunt. The hunting excursions convinced neither McKenna or Delaney that it's fun to be in the woods at dawn and McKenna played soccer for three years (talk about being miserable; we knew none of the rules and Gary kept yelling that the only "real" sport that has offsides is football!). McKenna also was a cheerleader for two years at her middle school and Gary never saw the value in that one; I had cheered myself many moons ago, though, so I knew that it really did take a lot of athletic ability. I was kinda keen on Delaney doing drama this year at school, but she opted for the Math Team (how she got that ability I'll never know, since equations are like poison to me!).
And then both McKenna and Delaney danced when they were younger. But you should have seen the joy Gary displayed when Delaney, after her first year of park ball, gave up ballet and tap for softball. She had made her choice and, hallelujah!, it matched with what we both liked better after all.
And now along comes Sydney. And I guess Gary and I are getting so much more mellow in our old age, because several weeks ago Gary said to me, "I'm not sure that Sydney's gonna be my other softball girl. She'd probably like dance better." (This said while she twirled around us in one of her myriad dresses!). I was really shocked when he made this announcement, thinking we'd be dragging her kicking and screaming onto the ball field.
We still held onto softball plans, though, until Fate intervened. Delaney's travel team schedule was announced and her practices would be on the same nights at Sydney's game. Since this was going to be a family activity, with both older sisters involved, we knew we couldn't manage to do both. Gary and I talked about it yesterday and we decided that maybe we should let Sydney try dance out this year and see if she liked it. If she didn't like it, ball was still an option next year (yep, we're still providing us with an "out"!).
But would she go for the plan? After Gary found out that the dance studio in our area had one opening for a new student in the 3- and 4-year-old beginners class, I decided to pop the big question on Sydney. "Do you want to take a ballet class?" I asked her yesterday afternoon, while the three girls and I sat at Dairy Queen for an after-school ice cream. McKenna and Delaney were excited too and couldn't wait for her reaction.
Do you remember that scene from "Home Alone" when the boy has his mouth wide open in astonishment? Well, that was Sydney when I asked her!! She opened her mouth wide and we all just laughed at her. "But I have to get a tutu," was her first statement about it.
So off we went to get a leotard, tights, and shoes before the first class started in another hour. At the dance store, she traipsed around in her red leotard (she avoided the white, and went with the brightest they had!), tried on her slippers, and then left already dressed in our costume.
At class, she grabbed the teacher's hand and marched right into the classroom. I could hear the music reverberating through the walls and eagerly waited to hear her assessment of the class in another hour. I just knew she'd have a great time. She loved meeting other girls and, after all, she was learning to be a ballerina!
When class ended, though, out she tromped and ran right up to me crying. "I wanted you, Mommy!" she cried dramatically, throwing her arms around my necks. Surprised, I looked at the teacher who told me that she had a great time...until it was time to put on her tap shoes. I hadn't had time to buy her tap shoes before this first, impromptu class, telling her we'd get them before next week's class. When all other 13 girls put on their tap shoes, though, she broke down. (I should have anticipated this,since this is exactly how Sydney would react; she wants to do everything just right and when everyone else was putting on their tap shoes, I'm sure she felt like she wasn't doing what she was supposed to be doing.) So... a hysteric breakdown ensued.
She cried for a good 20 minutes, all the while Delaney almost crying too because she had been so excited for her sister. I reassured her that it would all be beter next week when she would have her shoes, although she told me one time that "I don't like dance." After a calm-down period at home, though, she was back into the swing of things. She showed me what she learned (some stretching exercises and a toe point), she told me they twirled a baton to a Hannah Montana song, and then she and Delaney performed a dance and gymnastics show for me. When Gary came home later in the evening, she proudly told him all about it. "You should see it, Pop," she told him. "It's SO cool!"
The best part of the evening, though, was when she discovered Delaney's old dance costumes. Her favorite is the flowy, white dress that she's already stated she's wearing to class next week. And, yes, she's wearing it again this morning.
So, life with a 3-year-old is never dull. All of us love having Sydney in our lives. Her older sisters live through her; you should see the look of fun and pride in their eyes when she's doing a dance for them. I don't think they ever imagined that she'd be this fun, and that they would love her so much!
And 3-year-olds--especially this one who is the third we've been lucky enough to have in our lives--teach old parents like us that change is good... that letting them spread their wings is always better than making them fly to our own wishes... that the "bad" always has an upside and can get "good" again real quick ... and that something as simple as a tutu can bring such excitement.