Ballerina Dreams

September 23rd, 2021

Six years old and their first ballet class. The other girls in class are all wearing pastel monochrome leotards with matching sheer tights and clean pink ballet shoes. They have their hair in prim little buns and braids.

My daughters are wearing bright, sparkly hand-me-down leotards and mud-stained cotton tights with kitten faces on the knees. Their ballet shoes have doubled as climbing shoes for the last year, so they’re as filthy as everything else in their life — also too small. Their hair is half up, half down, mostly in their face, and visibly tangled. 

They’ve been reprimanded several times for “fooling around” by the teacher, who has now separated them from each other and their friend F. I only know this because Eliza, who has been having a lot of separation anxiety, insisted I come inside the room today while they had the lesson. So I am sitting in the corner, with my mask on, pretending to work on my laptop while I subversively observe this whacky tradition of young girls taking ballet lessons. 


“Beautiful princess ballerina! Turn out those toes!”

Jesus christ.

I, too, took ballet lessons as a child. I may harbor Lost Ballerina Dreams. I would love for my daughters, who begged for this class, to love it. But I fear I may have a few rogue ballerinas on my hands. And at any rate, based on my harried performance in the dressing room in the hallway before class, I’m never going to make it as a ballet mom.

100% not doing what she is told

100% not doing what she is told 

. . . . . . . . .

Later, browsing the Capezio website for more “appropriate” ballet wear, I find myself questioning just how hard I should be pushing my kids to conform to the ballet vibe.

On the one hand, watching Eliza hitch up her too-small, filthy, stained, hand-me-down cotton tights over and over again has convinced me she needs something else to wear to ballet. And if I’m being honest, all these matching pastels are making this control-freak Virgo mom swoon.

On the other hand, as my friend Anemone pointed out, “Isn’t it great when they haven’t yet figured out they are supposed to conform?” Yes, it is pretty great.

“Of course,” Anemone reflected, “There is probably a reason for those outfits.” 

. . . . . . . . .

My big mistake was letting them pick out which outfit they wanted. One thing my daughters did not inherit from me is my sense of swift decisiveness. They ruminate. They waffle. They are their father’s daughters.

He is apt to approach me with a choice between, say, two shirts and ask for my opinion. No matter what choice I make, he will then ask, “Why?” and my heart will sink, because I know that we are about to go down the rabbit hole. 

With twins, there’s the extra factor of competition. Not only are they disinclined to make a decision, but they’re terrified their sister will end up with something cooler. This usually ends to a long negotiation about agreeing on two colors and then sharing, which makes things really complicated. 

In the end, I splurged on two new leotards with clever little skirts sewn in. When my kids inevitably  get kicked out of ballet in a few weeks, I sincerely hope we can parlay these into Halloween costumes. 

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2 Responses to “Ballerina Dreams”

  1. What a great way to start my day!

    Thanks again (for the nth time), Joslyn for sharing your parenting adventures with us. I remember Devon’s brief tenure in ballet. It was also a failure, but I didn’t manage the appreciative insight on the larger social dynamic that you have.

    And I also celebrate your “feral” girls who “haven’t figured out that they’re supposed to conform” and who get their ballet costumes dirty climbing trees. The photos are priceless.

    Thanks so much!

  2. Christine says:

    This takes me back to the hours spent sitting with the other ballet Moms as a much younger ( and very self conscious because of this) mother, as they typed furiously on their Blackberry’s. My eldest was the perfect pupil and relished the type A atmosphere that was the Joanne Langionne School of Dance. My younger daughter ? Not so much. She held her own class , danced to the tunes in her head , and recruited friends to enjoy the wide room, with those open, slippery floors and bars to turn upside down on. She made it 3 classes .. and I got a refund

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