Our house is on a dead end street. When my youngest was growing up, there were four girls her age who lived nearby. Three of these girls took ballet lessons at the same studio. Being the stay-at-home-mom on the street, I took care of transportation to and fro the ballet studio.
I was also heavily involved in costuming the dancers, so my time while the girls were learning was spent in the costume shed. I learned more about fitting and sewing in those years than all others combined.
This adventure began when my daughter went to see “The Nutcracker” with the neighbors across the street. We’d been living here for less than a month. My daughter came home with brochures, prices, and class schedules that evening. She was in the third grade and took the initiative to approach the dancers and find out what she had to do to become one of them. Yes, I was impressed.
But this was the child who was interested in everything and wanted to do it all. I told her she had to narrow her after-school activities to two things — we could not do it all. She decided on ballet and violin lessons. If only she’d chosen something inexpensive like Girl Scouts or 4-H!!
I’m not complaining. Really, I’m not. We spent a year’s college tuition on a violin, but she had the experience of playing a solo accompanied by a full orchestra. She played with her orchestra in Carnegie Hall. Really, how may non-professionals can claim that?
Ahh… ballet. My daughter, as a junior ballerina, never had a chance at the role of Clara in “The Nutcracker”. She would have been damned good in that role… but she was not professional material. I hope that her realization of this did not take too much enjoyment away from her role as one of the core dancers of the company. The star may shine, but if the core is weak, the production suffers.
As chauffeur to my daughter and two of her friends, three times a week to lessons, more frequently when a production was imminent, the three girls often forgot I was there. They were in the 8th grade, when one of them told about a classmate who had done drugs and broken his leg.
The amazing conversation that followed was exclamations of how none of them would be so stupid because if they broke their leg, or even sprained an ankle, Mrs. XXX (ballet teacher) would never forgive them.
I never felt so much a part of a community as I did then. I am by nature a loner, not a joiner. In fact, I had many arguments with Mrs. XXX about costumes. She will always be a hero in my mind because she had such a fantastic influence on my child.
As a parent, I think my child would have naturally had the guts, or whatever you may call it, to resist the path to degeneracy, but I am f0rever grateful to her dance teacher for making it easier for her. And to her violin teacher, who trusted her to babysit her infant. There’s not a better measure of trust of one’s character than that.
This post is dedicated to all the music and dance teachers who instill the best in their students, whether they become stars, or not.
Thanks, Mrs Mills