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Tiaras and Trucks

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Does Tu Plus Tu Equal Trouble?

Music coaxes them off the couch, smiles pulled from furrowed brows.

“Dance!” Dylan exclaims, making Abbey laugh with his now infamous “squat move”, deep knee bends with an ear-to-ear grin on his face.

Abbey’s movements are more erratic, soft and fluid one moment, frantic and silly the next.

“That’s a pirouette, Mommy,” she informs me, spinning on one leg, unbalanced and giggling, her pronunciation slightly more impressive than her technique.

Our dance parties spontaneously add life to our days, rainy mornings when we’re stuck in pajamas for too long, afternoons when Dylan’s nap crowds into the slight space between rest and the craziness of dinnertime.

We dance with abandon, spinning and shimmying and falling in laughter.

“I learned that at dance, Mommy,” Abbey confides every once in a while, and my heart sighs in happiness that she enjoys her classes, that she looks forward to them, that she walks into the dance studio comfortably and with only a slight hint of shyness.

Later, I settle down to watch a train wreck of a reality show I should be ashamed to admit watching. 
Dance Moms might be the first reality show that has actually induced nausea as I watched, and I watched the entire first season of Jersey Shore

Something about the combination of the overbearing dance teacher, the competitive moms, the little girls in full make-up and earrings at their dance classes, not competitions or performances,brings tears to my eyes.

And while I realize this show is an exaggerated version of some crazy reality designed to invoke strong reactions, a sliver of doubt pushes into my consciousness.

I loved my dance classes as a child and teenager, but despite dancing at a non-competitive studio, there were jealousies and body image issues, hurt feelings and worries of inadequacy.

I can remember fervently wishing I could reverse my body’s earlier-than-average development, uncomfortable in a body that wasn’t the sleek and lithe ideal of my dance teacher.

Thinking of Abbey ever feeling that way makes me cringe in pain.

But she expressed an interest in dance, and I thought it would be a perfect activity for her to ease into socializing with other kids without me present. 

At dance, she can work alongside other students, quietly getting comfortable with the other girls.  She can smile shyly and link hands and dance around the room without saying more than a word or two.

She always asks to go to class and always reiterates how much fun she has with her beloved teacher and her friends.

For now, I will choose to turn off Dance Moms.

I will focus on this season’s dancers on So You Think You Can Dance, young women with powerful legs and unbelievable extension and the ability to transform music into something tangible and magical.

I will focus on my own positive memories of my first pointe shoes and going to dance camp on a college campus and the way I still remember little bits and pieces of music and body positions and the feeling of a swirling skirt on stage.

I will focus on our afternoon dance parties, when music twists impatience into laughter.

For now, we will dance.
dance moves 
my first dance recital
I'm on the far right
the girl on the far left?
that's my roommate, both at dance camp and our freshman year of college
we never went to school together and wouldn't have met without dance
and I never would have traded her friendship, not even for slower developing breasts


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44 Comments:

  • At September 7, 2011 at 9:04 AM , Anonymous sweetbutterbliss said...

    I struggle with this too. My daughter wants to do dance, but I worry about her so much. But the difference between us and the "dance moms" is that we're not f-ing crazy! So hopefully that will help.

     
  • At September 7, 2011 at 9:26 AM , Anonymous Wendy @ mama one to three said...

    oh gosh, I feel the same.  I had such a similar experience with dance--I hated my body and envied the other girls so much.  I don't think it has to be a brutal experience for girls.  I am hoping too.

     
  • At September 7, 2011 at 10:00 AM , Anonymous Mama Wants This said...

    Okay, first? Never ever watch Dance Moms again. It's like normal life on steroids. It's not realistic (the irony). 

    Second, trust in your gut and in Abbey's love for dance. If it ever becomes too much for her, I'm sure she will turn to you. You're that kind of mom, the kind a girl can talk to. She'll be okay. And so will you.

     
  • At September 7, 2011 at 11:00 AM , Anonymous Ladygoogoogaga said...

    LOL - so glad I have two boys for this reason!!

     
  • At September 7, 2011 at 11:01 AM , Anonymous take2mommy said...

    Dance is a wonderful activity for little ones. I hope your daughter's experience with it is never permeated by any "Dance Moms" nonsense. Also, right now I'm picturing that little man squat dance move. I know it well. When my boys did it we called it the butt dance. What's cuter than that?

     
  • At September 7, 2011 at 11:38 AM , Anonymous Taming Insanity said...

    There is the potential for trouble in everything. Your attitude is guiding her on the right path. And those friendships can often never be mirrored anywhere else. Dance on!

     
  • At September 7, 2011 at 12:36 PM , Anonymous shellthings said...

    I think the difference is that you aren't one of those crazy moms from that show(which I admit that I can't stop watching)- and you will help guide her to have the right attitude.

     
  • At September 7, 2011 at 2:26 PM , Anonymous Jackie said...

    I wish my girls would have continued with dance class... but one broke her arm and the other didn't like her teacher so they both  quit. Now I think that it's to late to start again.

    I'm glad that your daughter enjoys it so much! I know mine like the impromptu dance parties at home as well!

     
  • At September 7, 2011 at 2:58 PM , Anonymous Missy | Literal Mom said...

    Very nice post.  I'm pumped for DWTS - want to watch it together?

     
  • At September 7, 2011 at 4:32 PM , Anonymous Kimberly said...

    I need to have a daughter so I can do all of these fun dance classes with her. I promise to not be like Dance Moms though!

     
  • At September 7, 2011 at 5:11 PM , Anonymous Paulette said...

    Oh happy sighs are abounding here, and giggles. I miss the days of a kid of mine saying dance while doing some silly almost dance move. I love that you included not only a pic of your kids but of you way back when too. As long as she enjoys it I say you are fine. Sounds like y'all are all enjoying it! =D

    Dance Moms? I find myself constantly watching it when it's on and wondering if these people are really like that or was it ramped up for the show? Sadly, there's way too many moms, maybe dads too, like that. 

     
  • At September 7, 2011 at 5:56 PM , Anonymous Elaine said...

    I love this with so much of me.  I'm still friends with a friend that I made in 4-year old dance class too!  Most of our contact is on FB but I did get to see her last year.  So awesome... :-) 

     
  • At September 7, 2011 at 7:51 PM , Anonymous Andrea said...

    I've never heard of the show Dance Moms before.  Perhaps that's a good thing!!  It sounds like the moms on that show are just a little crazy though, I think dance is exactly what you want to make of it.  So if you don't want it to be a makeup competition, your daughter will probably never know the difference :)

     
  • At September 7, 2011 at 11:34 PM , Anonymous Katie said...

    Stopping by from PYHO. I watched Dance Moms too, and I can't imagine how dance (which I also loved growing up) could be so much drama! I remember it as a fun way to see your friends, move around and show off at recital at the end of the year. Not like that!

     
  • At September 7, 2011 at 11:36 PM , Anonymous Kimberly All Work No Play said...

    I've never heard of Dance moms before....
    I used to love dance classes. Unfortunately the dance studio burned down and when they reopened I never returned.
    It's awesome that you met a good friend like that...giving up bewb growth ;)

     
  • At September 8, 2011 at 12:22 AM , Anonymous Hopes@Staying Afloat! said...

    Those pictures are so adorable!! 

    I think as mom's all we can do is listen to our children.  If they are enjoying something then of course we will let them keep doing it!  Those reality shows that show children working, instead of learning or playing make me sick!

     
  • At September 8, 2011 at 1:36 AM , Anonymous Galit Breen said...

    love it friend! We're a dancin' family, too!

     
  • At September 8, 2011 at 2:25 AM , Anonymous Jessica said...

    This is something I struggle with. I want to put my girls in dance or gymnastics but I don't want them to develop body issues that can be so common with these activities.

     
  • At September 8, 2011 at 11:39 AM , Anonymous Angela said...

    It's a tough one for me.  Abbey is not going to be the tiniest, most petite girl in any of her classes, and I hope that we're able to shift the focus from what her body looks like to what it can do.  I'll just have to be careful.

     
  • At September 8, 2011 at 11:39 AM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Well, three of the four of us are (Ryan is learning, LOL)!

     
  • At September 8, 2011 at 11:40 AM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Aw thanks!  I know the shows are so exaggerated, but oh it made me upset!

     
  • At September 8, 2011 at 11:40 AM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Dance Moms is on Lifetime, I think.  Just stay away :)

     
  • At September 8, 2011 at 11:41 AM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I know!  Abbey does go to a studio where they participate in competitions, but you don't have to do them.  Also, I don't see the little girls running around in make-up and things like that. 

     
  • At September 8, 2011 at 11:42 AM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Oh geez, my daughter would wear her recital make-up every day if I let her :)  (Of course I don't!) 

     
  • At September 8, 2011 at 11:43 AM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Yes!  We're FB friends, too.  I love that.

     
  • At September 8, 2011 at 7:57 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I am scared of Dance Moms.  I don't know how to articulate how terrible I think it is for their kids, and I don't think they understand or do it with bad intentions.

     
  • At September 8, 2011 at 7:58 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Daughters are pretty cool :)  With the fun of dance classes and girly things comes a lot of stress, though, at least for me.

     
  • At September 8, 2011 at 7:58 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Don't hate me, but I actually never watch DWTS!  Ballroom isn't my favorite type of dance to watch, so I've never really gotten into it :(

     
  • At September 8, 2011 at 7:59 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Oh, it's never too late if they want to try :)  Time is so tight for kids now, though!

     
  • At September 8, 2011 at 8:00 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I just hope I don't have to deal with too many of those crazy moms.  Sigh.

     
  • At September 8, 2011 at 8:01 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    This soothed me more than you can know.  You're right that there's trouble to be found anywhere if you don't have the right attitude.  Now if only I could find that red tutu...

     
  • At September 8, 2011 at 8:01 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Yay! the butt dance.  Now I will call it that :)

     
  • At September 8, 2011 at 8:02 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I'm sure I'll find something to worry about with my son, too LOL

     
  • At September 8, 2011 at 8:03 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Thanks for talking me off the ledge.

    And I hope so much that what you said is true, that she will be able to talk to me about any concerns she has, about dance or anything else!

     
  • At September 8, 2011 at 8:03 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I hope it doesn't have to be fraught with body image issues, but I am not 100% sure, and that little bit of doubt is tough sometimes.

     
  • At September 8, 2011 at 8:04 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    I figured I would let her now and try to figure it out as we go alone :)  

     
  • At September 8, 2011 at 10:30 PM , Anonymous frelle said...

    what a sweet, thoughtful post, and I love that you are still friends with your dance class friend :)

     
  • At September 8, 2011 at 10:32 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    Well, mostly facebook friends :(  We don't live in the same city anymore, but I still love her!

     
  • At September 9, 2011 at 10:15 PM , Anonymous Elena said...

    I think that's definitely a good focus! That Dance Mom's show is definitely enough to make you cringe.

     
  • At September 12, 2011 at 10:05 AM , Anonymous Kir said...

    I see the promos for it, but I would never turn it on....I can't stomach any reality TV and that one would make me cry for sure, in a bad way.

    Abbey is perfect the way she is...and she will continue to be with you as her mom. She has such a fantastic role model in you, let her DANCE her little heart out.

    plus that picture of you..wow, what a cutie!!! We might have had the same outfits ;)

     
  • At September 14, 2011 at 8:22 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    That Dance Moms show does more than make me cringe.  It puts my husband's prize television at risk of getting a shoe thrown at it LOL

     
  • At September 14, 2011 at 8:23 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

    How funny!  I was a "Ruby" in the recital.  All of the little girl classes were different colored costumes and had a jewel (diamonds, rubies, sapphires).

    I shouldn't watch things like that.  I KNOW how I'm going to feel about it before I even turn it on.

     
  • At September 26, 2011 at 10:15 PM , Anonymous CDG said...

    Oh my goodness, so precious!

    She'll twirl and dance and be lovely with you for her mother.

     
  • At September 27, 2011 at 10:56 PM , Anonymous Shelley Mcelhiney said...

    It's a good attitude to have. Dance doesn't have to be bad & you have time to wait & see how it's affecting her. I attended ballet classes, for a couple of years, but eventually we moved & the classes just didn't have the same appeal.

     

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