Sunday, May 16, 2010

I was three years old when I got my first pair of pink ballet shoes. I loved everything about dance class; the leotard, the music, and Miss Mary Anne. She was soft spoken and beautiful and possibly the best ballerina in the world to a three-year-old.

My favorite thing about dancing was the recitals. Miss Mary Anne let us help pick out the sparklie costumes with flowing net or a bouncy tutu. It was like Christmas Day opening up the box when the order came.

In fifth grade I was Queen Ermelinda in the May recital. I remember being back stage in the fog of Aqua Net hairspray and makeup lights thinking life could not get any better ... a beautiful costume, a huge stage with a velvet curtain, my parents in the packed auditorium and I was performing a solo.

So naturally when Jill was three I signed her up for ballet class, bought the leotard, tights and shoes just like I wore. I was so excited her first day of class, but not Jill. She cried and clung to my leg. So we sat and watched the first class and talked about how much fun the next week would be. She didn’t buy in and clung to me again the second and third classes. Finally the instructor explained to me, “You know Mrs. Brawner the love for dance is not something genetic that can be passed on. Either you want to dance or you don’t. Obviously Jill doesn’t. Not right now anyway.”

I had to think about that for a while. How could she not love dance? Over the years I have watched parents insist their kids participate in activities they had been involved in as kids. I heard a man just last week say, “There was never a question about whether I would play football or not. It was just part of the life plan laid out by my dad. I never liked playing football, but who was I to question the plan.” How sad.

Jason and Alison enrolled three-year-old Mollie Jane in dance last fall. She is all about dance. Last night was her first dance recital and we were on the third row. It was awesome. She smiled and didn’t miss a step, kind of, but she had the smile and wave down perfect. She even took me backstage after the recital to turn in her costume and pick up her bag. Of course we went to the after theater dinner at Chick-fil-A.

So here’s what I’ve figured out. Maybe if your kids don’t wan’t to do what you did when you were growing up, whether it’s dance, football, tennis, or whatever, it’s OK. Find out what it is they want to do. Besides, there is always a chance your grandkids will like the same things you did.

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