As we do every Saturday, my three year old and I went to his ballet and tap class. It was a small class today, only two kids. Usually there are at least four kids and parents for three of us who hang out right outside of the room to provide encouragement and security for the kids while they are getting instruction.
Today was different. Only one other kid was in class and instead of her mother, who usually comes, her father brought her today. Class started late because they were late to class, but hey things happen, right?
It was a difficult class for my kiddo today, which made me sad because he loves to go to this class. The little girl, lets call her Carrie, was not having a good day.
Unfortunately, I have yet to see a class where little Carrie pays attention to the teacher well. In the beginning of class she will turn the lights on and off, play on the bars which is not allowed for this age group, crawl around on the ground pretending to be an animal or just ignore the teacher and doing her own thing. Sometimes my kiddo follows her lead, at which point I will gently remind him to listen to his teacher. Luckily little Carrie is a cute kid and usually sweet, so why get upset? These kiddos are young and the idea of this class is not to learn strict ballet positions, it is to have an introduction to movement and learn to love ballet and tap. Carrie's parents are never outside the door, they usually prefer to wait upstairs so they have no idea how their child is in class. Which is why I should not have been shocked today, but I was.
Little Carrie was having a cranky day and seemed to want to make sure mine did too. My little one was getting yelled at quite a bit by little Carrie, he brushed it off and ignored her. At one point the teacher finally looked at her and told her to use a nice voice and say please. The little girl refused. My son, who loves a calm environment, ended up coming out of class couple of times telling me he wanted to go home. I spoke to him and told him I understand it can be difficult when someone is having a bad day, but that he loves class and he is allowed to have fun and to tell Carrie "no" if she is mean. I encouraged him to go back and have fun with the teacher. He went back in. This happened twice.
And that is when her father chimed in. From around the stairs he peeked his head out to say, "Don't you think that is distracting? That is distracting to class to have him in and out. Don't you think you should move?" I replied no, I didn't think so and that I appreciated his concern. At which point he raised his voice and said, "I have no concern for you, I am paying for this class and he is distracting my daughter."
Maybe he forgot that he was late to class, but why go there? I did let him know that when it is a full class, all of the other parents sit here and that it says on the website that seating (although limited) is permitted for this age group. I also let him know that his daughter was actually providing a fair amount of distraction in the class and if he were to sit where I was, he would see that. His daughter is older than my son and has been in the class much longer and should be providing the example of how to behave appropriately. He responded by raising his voice again, although I really didn't pay any attention to what he was saying at that point and luckily the music drown him out so I just ignored him.
Then the unthinkable happened. His child ran out of class to go see her dad. Wait a minute ... isn't that distracting? I didn't say anything. Again, about ten minutes later, his child ran out of class to go find him. Oops, guess that is distracting again. But you know what, it actually wasn't distracting for my son at all. It actually allowed my kiddo to get some individual attention from the teacher who he adores. How great is that?
A few minutes later little Carrie attempted to hit Everett because she wanted to jump even though it was his turn. He dodged it and kept on his merry way, not letting her bother him. A bit later, it became too much, my kiddo came out and was upset. "Carrie stepped on my foot and hurt me," I asked him to show me and said, "Well that wasn't nice of her. You tell her no, she is not allowed to do that." I offered to kiss it and make it feel better and he said he was fine, he just wanted to go home. At this point, sheesh, sure, he shouldn't have to endure that in class. I said "Okay let's go tell the teacher we are going home now." He ran in so fast and she asked if he would wait so he could get a sticker. He was excited for that. The teacher came out and brought little Carrie to her Dad. His first question, "Did she pay attention today?" The teacher said, "Well she pushed him."
Her father was upset with her, told her she did not make a good decision and wouldn't get a sticker. Then he came over and forced her to apologize, right after being upset that she wasn't going to get a sticker. My heart broke for this upset crying little girl who just wanted her Dad to enjoy watching her dance the way I enjoy watching my son and the other parents enjoy watching their kids. Yes it is good to have a kiddo learn to say they are sorry, but she wasn't sorry she was now even more angry with my kid because now she didn't get a sticker. She still hadn't gotten over that and now she is supposed to deliver an apology? She finally did apologize, which I have mixed feelings about. Yes, kids should learn to apologize when they mean it. She had already said multiple times that she didn't want to say she was sorry and that she wasn't sorry. Guess what Dad, you just taught her to lie.
There are so many things wrong with what happened today and I don't really dwell on that. What I do want to say is when you have 3, 4, and 5 year olds, sports, dance, whatever activity they are in, IT SHOULD BE FUN. You are setting the foundation for your kiddo to love what they are doing. Instill the love of that activity first, it will become competitive work soon enough without your pushing it to be. Let them be kids and enjoy, be there to support them and love them. The teachers and coaches will take care of instruction. Little Carrie misbehaves in class constantly, not because she is mean. She is not a bad kid. She misbehaves because she is desperately seeking attention. She wants her parents to enjoy watching her.
I am going to leave you with a wonderful article I shared with some family and friends a while back ... it merits a reminder read, even if you have read it before.
Mommy McD signing off ... to go enjoy my kids. Please go enjoy yours and make sure to tell them that you love to watch them too.
Click here for the article:
The Only Six Words Parents Need to Say to Their Kids About Sports—Or Any Performance
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