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A Penny for Mommy's Thoughts Life in CA Mommy Anecdotes

Dance Recital Firsts

The ballet studio’s year-end dance recitals  aren’t new to us, thanks to Sam’s enthusiastic desire to join every single one of them (in true, Peacock nature).  And yet every year, there’s still always a first time experience — or two! — that comes with it.  Ah, the parenting roller coaster indeed.

This was Sam’s first recital in California, but being our seasoned performer, she just took it all as she always does.  The exciting part about it was that her group got invited to perform on the Disney Performing Arts stage at California Adventure!

Sam's Disney Dream Come True!
Sam’s Disney Dream Come True!

It was pretty exciting even for me, as I got to be a parent who got to go backstage and see a little bit of Disney’s behind the scenes.  Unfortunately they banned any kind of photo whatsoever (they said they wanted to ensure that everyone’s memory of Disney is the way they see it at the parks.  Imagine that!)  Only the performers were given free passes into the park, so it was thanks to those Annual Passes that we were all able to go in and watch her.  Sam says it was a “dream come true” to be considered a cast member even for just a few hours.

Speaking of firsts, it was Jamie’s first ballet recital too!  She was finally old enough to participate.  She didn’t want to at first, but Sam convinced her by saying “It’ll be greatDaddy will give you flowers!“, and with that, Jamie instantly changed her mind.

She enjoyed every minute of it, and despite being the smallest and the youngest in the group, she had no qualms about performing and smiling on stage.

Such a performer she can be.
A Dutch Maid on her very first recital!

I got many compliments after from members of the audience and the teachers and parents backstage about how it seemed she knew exactly what to do, and exactly where to look.  I’m always worried because Jamie is a Dove, and can be self-conscious and timid at times, but that didn’t seem to be the case here.  Well, she’s proven me wrong before.  I forget her intrapersonal intelligence is her strongest innate intelligence so that must be what comes into play.

What followed Jamie’s decision to participate was another first:  I volunteered to be a backstage “group mom”.  It made perfect sense to me because both girls would be backstage and I was driving them to and from recitals as well.  Plus as I mentioned, I was worried about not being around Jamie.  Maybe it was more my fear than hers, but all the same I put my name down.

The ballet studio we joined had a similar curriculum to that of our old ballet studio in Manila, so I was familiar with the drill of multiple dance rehearsals, long hours, hair and make-up and all that came with it.  The big difference was, the production here was put on by a few teachers and a whole bunch of parent volunteers.

Note the pack and play on one side, and the stroller on the other....
Note the pack and play on one side, and the stroller on the other….

I learned (as the practices and days went by), that the job of a Group Mom isn’t exactly a walk in the park.  I was assigned to Jamie’s group of six girls, along with another first time group mom.  We had the smallest group to handle, and so while I was over-the-moon stressed, some of the seasoned group moms said I “had it easy” (Hu-what?!).

The first and biggest bit of it was managing the kids.  Our age group of 4-6 year olds was a bit of a challenge precisely because of that developmental stage they were in.  The budding personalities and budding sense of independence yet co-dependence and desire to do everything the other was doing, drove me up the wall.  They wanted to get dressed and undressed at their own schedules (which never really matched — plus we had to keep those costumes clean!), or sit anywhere else except on the mats we provided.

The one shot where MOST of them are on the mat.
The one shot where MOST of them are on the mat. It lasted for all of 2 minutes.

Taking these girls to the bathroom was also a chore, because they would always resist going and wait until the last minute when they couldn’t hold it anymore.  This was always the time we had to get in line to get on stage.

They weren’t allowed to eat in their costumes either, which of course they did.  As much as I had set aside the snacks to wait until we were back in our cover-ups (we’d also have to leave the room to eat), some of them knew exactly where I had them put their stuff and would just go for it.

The snacks that weren't supposed to be opened just yet.
The snacks that weren’t supposed to be opened just yet. But we were outnumbered…

Then there were the range of emotions and social conflicts, like pushing or sharing and separation anxiety from parents.  We had to handle all of that too.  Thankfully Jamie was as calm as ever.  I supposed it helped because I was there and because she knew the dynamics of having me as an authority figure.  The other kids had to learn as I had to learn and adjust to them as well.

The other half of being a group mom was managing the parents.  Half of the parents had done this recital the year before so they kind of knew what to expect.  But still, the young age of the group made them anxious about leaving their girls in the hands of a stranger — me.  Some were overly anxious and were right there when we called to say practice was over earlier than expected.  Then there were those that really didn’t care to follow or listen to instructions given.  They would send their kids in costume when we said not to, or send chocolates as snacks when we’d said not to as well (It’s terribly hard to remove chocolate stains on costumes I tell you!).

Then there was the parent who couldn’t grasp the concept of her child staying through the whole recital, when she was only dancing for two minutes.  Yes, I admit, this is my karma.   Thankfully in my time, I had seasoned parents who walked me through it, and so I tried to be that for this particular mom as well.  After all, this is what you sign up for.  I don’t know if I was effective, or if it was because we really didn’t know each other all too well (she wasn’t at the weekly ballet classes), so it didn’t make much of a dent this year.  They were still always late to practice, and always late to pick-up (which meant the girls and I couldn’t leave because we had to wait until all my five other girls had been picked up).

That whole experience gave me a new-found respect for preschool teachers.

Of course, it all worked out in the end.

We made it to the curtain call!  Hurray!
We made it to the curtain call! Hurray!

Everyone was excited and the costumes, hair and make-up held up nicely too (considering I was running around the backstage after them with a hairspray bottle in one hand and q-tips with lipstick in another).  Whatever spots or crumbs we weren’t able to remove weren’t noticed.  The parents were all happy and grateful that they got their children back in five whole pieces with smiles on their faces.  I still needed a tall glass of wine after though, but I’m glad things worked out well and I was glad it was over.

Before we left, one of the other group moms came to me and said, “Don’t worry, it’ll be better next year when they’re older.”

Hu-what?!

Once a group mom, always a group mom,” she said as she walked away.

When she said it, I couldn’t imagine doing it again.  Although after I’d had my glass(es) of wine, I completely understood.

Cheers to next year! 😉

Categories
Mommy Discoveries My Mommyology's Manila Chapter

Dabbling in the Arts: Steps Dance and My Little Art Place

July in Manila is school season, which means most everyone the girls want to see won’t be free until late afternoon.  We also traveled with a total of one puzzle, one coloring book, a rainbow loom (and a ton of Kumon worksheets), so by the second full day at home, both girls were bouncing off the walls (and off the beds).  We’d hoped to fill our mornings with swimming lessons, however the weather also didn’t cooperate.

And so began the search for activities the girls could do while visiting Manila.  Just as I always do, I asked them what they wanted to do over the next two weeks.  We made a list of people to see, (Girl Scout cookies to distribute), and fun places to visit.

Jamie wanted to dance ballet.   So in the first week, we spent time in Steps Dance the girls’ old ballet school reconnecting with friends and teachers and attending class.  Thankfully the ballet school we found in California followed the same Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) curriculum, so it was as if the girls didn’t miss a beat in terms of lessons at the studio, and they were both able to keep within their grade level.

Butterfly Jamie!
Butterfly Jamie!

Jamie was also happy that she was old enough to join the tap class with Sam and their cousin, a wish she’s had for a while now.

Tappity tap tap!
Tappity tap tap!

While Sam enjoyed ballet and tap, her request was to try Art.  In the last month, Sam has shown much interest in the subject.  We even enrolled her in some trial sessions in California and she thoroughly enjoyed them.  She loved every minute of it and asked to go back.  But in the meantime, I thought it might be nice for her to continue it here.

I’d heard of My Little Art Place from a friend who sent her kids there last year when they spent a few weeks visiting Manila.  She had many good things to say about it, and her girls produced instant masterpieces.  I called and asked about a trial class, and Teacher Grace was nice enough to accommodate us one morning.

My Little Art Place isn’t hard to find.  Coming from Ortigas Avenue, you turn onto Wilson and drive past Cardinal Santos Hospital.  It will soon show up on your left side a few streets later.  Parking looked like a challenge (thankfully my mom lent us her driver), but since there was no one there at that time we made it without much of a hitch.

The girls walked into the cozy studio and eagerly awaited instructions for the day.

Ready for some Art!
Ready for some Art!

The ambiance was that of a true art center, and apparently I’m told it functions as a little gallery too for up and coming artists.

It was Jamie’s first art class too — and while she was nervous about it, she was also very excited.  Given their age range and level of experience (read: zero to very little), Teacher Grace said that they would stick to acrylic as the main medium for the morning.

At one point a teacher sat with Jamie her to outline the teapot, the subject of the day’s lesson.  She then had to follow it and put in the other different colors.

Getting directions from the teacher.
Getting directions from the teacher.

Granted that there were 2 teachers and 4 students, I liked the level of attention that was given to both my girls.  It seemed like just enough guidance mixed in with a little bit of free expression and form.  After all as Sam says, “we need to respect everyone’s interpretation of the art.”  Quite so!

Sam was old enough to try to draw her teapot on her own.  It turned out alright, as she was able to use what she knew from previous art classes and apply them here.  Teacher Grace said that for a six-year-old, she seems to have quite the steady hand.

Painting their little teapots
Painting their little teapots.  Jamie is trying to copy the flower on her board.

The three hours passed quickly, and the girls even got time to snack in between.  They got to take home their work and proudly showcased it to us.

Tah-dah!
Tah-dah!

A trial class at My Little Art Place costs P950 per student, however they do offer an 8-class course for ages 4 and up using different media.  That would’ve come out cheaper on a per class basis, except given our hectic pre-wedding schedule, it wasn’t something I could commit to.  I’m glad we found it though, and gave it a try!  It’s something we’d definitely put back on our list during our next Manila visit.

Categories
A Penny for Mommy's Thoughts Life in CA Mommy Anecdotes

Are We Too Busy?

Quite often, a family in our neighborhood asks me on a whim if my girls can come over to play with her little girl.  Right now?  Yes now.

Quite often I decline (politely) because my girls have one activity or another after school.  I assume she doesn’t keep track of our schedule, because after asking for the nth time, she walked away shaking her head. “Boy your girls are TOO busy,” she commented.  I smiled and waved, “see you tomorrow”, and we went on our way.

From the look on her face and the tone of her voice, I probably came off as one of those “busy” moms who over schedules her kids.  I know for a fact that they’re lifestyle is the complete opposite, where her child has no after school activity whatsoever.  It’s free unstructured play all day long.  She doesn’t believe our kids get enough play time at school, and they’re being worked too hard as it is for them to do anything else after (hence the judgement conclusion).

Her opinion of me doesn’t really matter (Thank you, Discover Your Core), but quite honestly, this “busy-ness” business is an everyday concern of mine.  I constantly ask myself this:  Are my kids TOO busy?

I know there are varied points of view on the topic.  And after going through several links, I found an article on the New York Times that resonated with me the most (click the link to read it if you like!).

Excerpt from the New York Times article.
Excerpt from the New York Times article.

I’m PRO extra-curricular activities.  Sam and Jamie have several of them.  They’re in ballet and Kindermusik — but different days and time slots.  They go to Kumon together.  And then they have their own after-school interests:  Jamie’s are Spanish and Soccer, and Sam’s is Basketball (She does her Spanish on the iPad at home when she feels like it).  As members of the Catholic community, Sam also attends a separate Religious Education class once a week as part of the two-year requirement for First Communion.

When I the kids if they think we’re too busy, they always answer “no we’re okay.”  On days when I feel entirely overwhelmed and exhausted by our schedule, I wonder how that’s possible.  But on the days when things run smoothly, I somehow find the answers to my question.

These extra curricular choices, we made as a family.  The girls were involved in every decision.  And it wasn’t because it was something that I wanted for them but rather, something they were excited to do.  They went through the brochures with us and discussed their options.  Even three-year old Jamie appreciates this process.

Jamie loves soccer.
Jamie loves soccer.

Like any human being, on some days, it takes a little more convincing to keep this commitment.  Other fun things pop up and distract them from it.  But (thankfully) I’ve never had to drag one kicking and screaming.  That tells me that the initial protests are superficial, and once they understand the value of sticking to our commitments, they get excited about going all over again.  I feel it’s just as important for me to show I’m equally committed to getting them there and supporting their choices.

Of course school and homework clearly come first, and we all know this will always be the priority.

Ate finishing up her homework first thing in the morning.
Ate finishing up her homework first thing in the morning.

My smart little Sam sees the extracurriculars as an incentive for her to complete her homework quickly so she can get to them.  New activities are good for her adventure-seeking personality.  She has a productive channel to work out all that energy and thirst for knowledge.

And while I know the Tiger Mom in me can push, I’m also not that hard-core about it.  I want my girls to learn, but I also want them to enjoy doing so.  I don’t have dreams of them becoming the next Tiger Woods in their field (sorry, it’s the only analogy I know thanks to my husband!).  And we only skip class for good reason (an illness or schoolwork for instance).  I put their needs first.   If they need sleep, I won’t wake them the next morning.

...And this is too good to move! ;)
…And this is too good to move! 😉

Contrary to popular belief, my husband and I don’t say yes to every request.  For one it’s costly, and I haven’t figured out how to grow money on trees yet.  Secondly, I’d go crazy shuttling them back and forth (I go crazy enough as it is!).  But more than that, I do believe they need time for the mundane everyday stuff: errands and chores, play dates, toys, and yes, even the electronics.  These keep us busy too but in a different kind of way.

Even if my girls assure me with words, that “they’re ok” and “not too busy,” I still validate this against their behavior, and make the call if I see overtiredness rear its cranky head.  After all that’s said and done, I still adjust where I can depending on their needs.  The health and well-being of the girls come first above all else.

Finding the balance is hard, but it’s also very relative.  One may need more “free play” than the next.  Some may need more structure.  And what may be “too busy” for some, may be just right for others.  It all depends on the parents and the child.

Our days are usually pretty full (I should know I’m the first to feel the fatigue), but it’s not always because we’re running from one class to the next.  I purposely left days “free”, and we get to decide on what fun things we can do together.  Somewhere in between the routine and set schedules we have our own spontaneous moments that are just pure fun (more on that in a separate post).

Random game night over dinner.
Random game night over dinner.

So — are we busy?  Technically yes.  I’m a planner by heart; I like to know what’s next.  So in the eyes of an outsider we really do a lot.  But when I look at my girls, I think they’re right and we’re really ok.  After all, we’re never too busy for each other.

Categories
A Penny for Mommy's Thoughts Mommy Lessons (on Parenting)

My Christmas Experiences as a Stage-Mom (of Two)

Two of the highlights of my busy December were the girls’ school Christmas programs (I think I’m still recovering from both production numbers since I’ve only found the courage to write about it now!).  I’ve figured out why I’d never felt this frazzled in the past, even when Sam was going to preschool in Chapel Hill.  First the obvious — it was one child that had to perform and not two.  Second, the school programs were simple and they didn’t run smack into the height of the Christmas holidays, as we are known to do here in Manila.  Sam’s first preschool was Jewish, and Hanukkah normally falls at the beginning of December.  Her second preschool was non-secular, so the biggest celebration they had was Thanksgiving, and the children sang all of two songs.  Here in the two schools my girls attend the year-end Christmas program is a major production for teachers, children and parents alike!

Jamie the Christmas Elf

At Jamie’s school, the teachers were trying to keep the performance a surprise.  Jamie would some songs every now and then though so I knew a few, and at pick-up I’d catch the older kids at practice.  Each time we’d pass the kids, Jamie would move in tune to the music too.  One morning in December in the middle of a diaper change, I said, “It’s December, Mom will start teaching you some Christmas songs okay?”  And then I started singing Jingle Bells.  I stopped at the phrase “Jingle all the way!” thinking that would be a lot for her to repeat, but instead Jamie replied, “Oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh – Hey!”  Aha.  Another song in their repertoire.

Jamie’s teachers would always tell me that she loves to sing and dance, and was really the only one in her class who would consistently perform.  She’d even walk to the front and stand on top of the x-marked spot.  Nonetheless I was nervous about the big day, because — if I know my child — she gets completely conscious when she knows she’s being watched; and I don’t think a room full of parents and cameras would inspire her to perform.  But I hoped, and asked her teachers to video a practice session, just in case.

At home, I did the usual prep work and talked about her big day for weeks.  I downloaded the songs (it was a mad search on the net I tell you!) so that she could practice her moves at home, even if I didn’t know if they were correct.  I tried to get her to do them in front of a small audience, but she’d shy away.

I lost sleep the night before her performance and prayed it would all go well.  Of course I also told myself – she’s not even two, there’s no pressure but that didn’t make the nerves go away.  I was trying to analyze why — and I think I just wanted to get a glimpse of how she is at school.

On the morning of the program, we got off to a bad start.  Jamie woke up earlier than usual, which already gave me the sinking feeling she’d be tired and cranky early.  She didn’t want to eat breakfast either, and put up a fight when I dropped her off at school.  Her teacher had to pry her away from me crying, so I was bracing myself for the worst.  I picked a chair by the front, and crouched below some parents to stay out of sight.  My husband chose to stand at the corner so he could video the performance, but I worried she’d see him and want him to get her.

Then the kids walked out and took their places.  Jamie seemed to know the drill and didn’t show an ounce of fear or shyness.  She even saw her dad and waved hi, and when the music started, she just went and performed!  She sang, danced and did everything that they taught her, and she was as the teachers said, the best elf in their group.

Doing the actions like the other older kids! :)
Doing the actions like the other older kids! 🙂

I was so proud (and so relieved) I started to cry.  At one point she finally saw me (since I would stand in the middle of all the seated parents to get a picture) and cried out, “Mommy!”  I froze because I thought that was the end of it, but instead she looked steadily at me and continued to perform.  I’d meet her gaze and mouth the words so she’d know it was just like how we did it at home.

At the end of the program, Jamie happily climbed into my arms and looked pretty content with herself.  Incidentally, she was also the only child who walked up to Santa by herself to claim her gift.  During the snack reception a lot of the other kids’ parents came up to me and congratulated me on Jamie’s performance.  They asked me how I got Jamie to be so confident, and I really thought about it after that.  For her singing and dancing, I really honestly believe it’s because of Kindermusik.  I think her love for music just took over any kind of self-consciousness.  As for walking up to Santa, well… she just wanted that gift!

Sam the Brightly Colored Bird

In Sam’s case, when we first got the memo about a Christmas play last November, I thought it was just going to be her class performance.  Apparently, the school mounts a big production for all 200 students of the morning session, from prep to the 1st grade.  The play was Alice the Magic Dragon, and Sam’s class were the colorful birds.  Sam got sent home with a script, with a note that said we had to help her practice her line.  There was one highlighted line, which after some research, I learned was her one solo line!

Sam was very vocal about the play, the dances and the songs, so we’d practice them at home and rehearse her line every night.  She memorized it fairly easily (and I’d say her Kumon lessons helped in that aspect!) and tried to add in the right intonations to show emotion.

What was more stressful for me was the costume.  It was the parents’ responsibility and it called for colorful FEATHERSI had no idea where or how to put that together myself without the costume falling to pieces.  I had nightmares of my daughter shedding on stage.  I looked to outsource, but three dressmakers told me they were full for the holidays.  Even Sam’s ballet school (that normally makes costumes) couldn’t accommodate us.  Finally, our assistant at the office volunteered to go on a trip to one of our local markets.  She took one of Sam’s dresses so that they could approximate the measurements and she negotiated it be completed in a few days. That was a huge relief.

Main Photo: She didn't adjust the mic, but made sure she spoke into it.  Inset Photo: Sam right in the spotlight!
Main Photo: She didn’t adjust the mic, but made sure she spoke into it. Inset Photo: Sam right in the spotlight!

Sam’s bird costume turned out better than expected, and when we walked into school the morning of her play, the other moms complimented her on her feathers as she was literally covered in them from head to toe (some of the other birds had cloth feathers and didn’t look as fluffy as she did.  Actually, she looked more like a baby chick then a bird, but she loved it).  During the play, Sam said her one line fairly well (she elicited some chuckles from the audience) and danced front and center too (my kids are smaller than their classmates, I think that’s why the teachers situate them there).  I think Sam gets her body movement fluidity from her dad.  He always said I had two left feet.

I was proud of my little bird.  Growing up in the same school, I never liked performing in front of a large audience.  I was always very self-conscious (I think I still am!), and would rather help out in the safety of the shadows.  Sam performing couldn’t have been easy because I know she also gets self-conscious every now and then, but she enjoyed herself, and loved her chick-look.

I still have tons of photos to sort through (since I snapped the camera every second for every play) and several video clips to upload.  I watch the clips over and over again and they always bring a smile to my face, and admittedly, a sense of relief.  I’m so glad the girls are enjoying, learning and adjusting well.

I was chatting with some mom friends about the stress these kinds of productions bring upon us parents particularly during an already hectic time in the year.  One of my mom friends said that she avoids it and has her child skip the days they need to come in costume or dress up for plays.  She said it’s not worth the effort knowing her daughter might be too shy to perform anyway.  While her feelings and thoughts are valid (I have similar fears all the time), I can’t imagine not giving my girls a chance to work through and experience it.  Whatever the outcome there’s a lesson or two they (and we) can pick up from the entire process and to me that is priceless.  I’d take the sleepless nights, the nightmares and the stage-mom fears twice over if it meant giving them an experience I could never do for them.

Somehow in the end it pays off.  They know that I support them (as evidenced by all the practicing and downloading of songs) and encourage them; and no matter what the outcome would be they know it would be okay.  But they always know I’m excited for them and I hope that they’ll at least try.   I’d like to believe that’s also what pushes them to stand front and center and perform.

Categories
Mommy Discoveries Mommy Lessons (on Parenting)

My Shy Ballerina

My Mommyology Ballet
The inspiration that started it all...

Before Sam learned to walk, she learned to dance.  My husband says she inherited his happy feet, but I do think the Kindermusik classes as well as the constant music in the apartment also contributed to her love for movement.  She has a good sense of rhythm too!  Sam would initially dance to anything and try to copy the steps she’d see on TV.  Then she zoned in to ballet when she saw Baby Bop dancing it on a Barney episode.  Ever since then, she’d been asking me if she could “do ballet” and would proceed to twirl around and tiptoe all over the house.

We’re all about encouraging and supporting whatever activities Sam is interested in, so I began to scout around for toddler ballet classes.  A lot of the ballet schools I called said that they would only take her after she turned three and that their cut-off date for entry was August.  That meant that with her birthday in November, she wouldn’t be able to dance ballet until the following year.  I don’t think I could take another year of “I want to do ballet mommeeeeee!”, so I kept asking around.

My Mommyology Ballet
Thank you, Triangle Youth Ballet!

Thankfully the Triangle Youth Ballet school made an exception for us.  They said that for as long as she was potty-trained and that she had no problem separating from me, then she could start ballet this fall, two months before she turned three.  It worked out well since the location was the nearest to us too!  Sam was all too happy and excited to start her classes; she literally could not wait.  She made no complaints about buying and fitting into her white tights, pink leotards and ballet shoes.  In fact, the day that we bought her uniform, she asked to put it on and refused to take it off until bedtime.

For her first session, our entire family went to support her, cameras in tow.  There was someone at the entrance of the classroom that stopped the parents from walking in with their children because they wanted the girls to “cross the threshold” on their own.  Sam had no qualms about it; she let go of my hand and went straight towards the teacher.  She didn’t even look back to say goodbye.  It made me think about what a big girl she was already.  For the entire session, she did everything Ms. Hannah the teacher, taught her to do with a smile on her face that at the end of the class when they let the parents in for the final “number”, Ms Hannah approached me to say that Sam did splendidly.  She was confident, she was happy and she absolutely loved it.

Then… disaster.  To Sam’s surprise, the last five minutes of the class was saved for each little girl to dance to their parents.  This was followed by a bow to the audience before they were allowed to leave.  I watched Sam go through the motions of it all, but her face morph from pure ballerina ecstasy to that of embarrassment and self-consciousness.  When she was finally allowed to come to me,  the poor thing was fighting so hard to hold back the tears.  She eventually broke down and when I got her to talk, she said she didn’t want the parents to come in and that she was shy.  Even if the applause were not directed towards her, she still felt embarrassed by it and kept her wet face buried into my shirt.

I’ve always known that Sam would shy away from adults and the limelight, but I didn’t realize how much it upset her until that day.  The week after we went back and Sam refused to step into the classroom and do the dance numbers with her friends.  The last 5 minutes were burnt into her memory and she just didn’t want to do it anymore.  That made me sad, because prior to that little traumatizing experience she actually loved the idea of ballet and did it so well the first time around.  So I spoke to the teachers and they allowed her to “skip” the ending if she wasn’t comfortable with it.  I don’t want to force her to do it too, because I’m afraid that if I push her into it when she clearly isn’t ready, then she’ll carry that feeling with her as she grows up. So each time we get ready for her class, she gamely steps into her tights and leotards but at the same time tells me that she doesn’t want the parents to come in.  “I only want to dance with Ms Hannah and my friends mom,” and she says this to her teacher too.  So for as long as she exits the classroom before the parents come in, ballet once again becomes a fun thing to do.

While a little bizarre, I find it an interesting aspect to her personality.  Normally children her age are happy to show off and get the attention from adults.  That is typical of Filipino gatherings too, when children are asked to “show off” for the adults.  We’ve hardly asked Sam to do that though, which has turned out to be a good thing since she most likely wouldn’t do it.

The one thing I learned from Sam’s Kindermusik teacher Rebecca, was that these things — public speaking, performing in front of an audience — take time to build up in kids like Sam.  What’s important she says, is that you always present them with the opportunity and accept their decision as to whether they choose to take it or not.  In her class for instance, Rebecca gives the children time to approach a fake microphone one by one and be put at the center of the room.  She also asks that the adults refrain from clapping or reacting because it could intimidate the kids.  What she wants is to create is a safe environment for the kids to be themselves and eventually over time, the shy children will learn to trust the environment and try it out when they are ready.  Rebecca says it’s important that they are not forced or pressured into conforming because it helps them develop their own confidence levels at their own pace.  I am glad I learned this little piece of information early on so that I don’t put my girls in a spot that will scar their self-esteem for life!

In the meantime, we will treat her ballet as just that; an opportunity which she will hopefully decide she wants to take later on.  I show her that I am happy she has a good time for the first 40 minutes, and that she can step out to watch the other girls dance for their parents for the last five, although I am also secretly hoping that she will soon want to do a little tippy-toe dance number for me.  For now, I will settle for the sneak peeks I can get from behind closed doors.

Here’s a short clip I was able to catch earlierMy Little Ballerina