I don't ever want to be that mother; you know the one... always wanted to be a cheerleader, but never made the team. She signs her kids up for every available activity so she can brag to her friends about how accomplished her delightful (a/k/a bratty) children are, then wonders why, at 13, she's lost complete control of them. I can spot one a mile away, and when I do, I make sure we never afford an opportunity for a play-date.
The fact that my little girl even wanted to take ballet came as a bit of a shock. After all, 40 years prior, her own mother was asked to leave the "brownies" for having a bad attitude (in my defense, who the hell can play duck, duck goose while wearing CLOGS?). "If you want to take ballet..." I began, "then you have to finish the season."
A few months into the program, I picked Isla up after class. I wasn't paying much attention at the time as there were pink tutu's flailing about and parents milling around, but once we got to the car, I noticed her eyes looked swollen and red. "What happened today in class?" I asked. "Ms. Suzanna made me wear a ponytail and I didn't want to wear one. I cried the whole time I was there." I was furious. I wanted to run back into that school and introduce Ms. Suzanna's ass to my new boots, but I held back. "Well sweetie, next time Ms. Suzanna tries to put a ponytail in your hair, you tell her that she needs to talk to me first."
The next day, I received an email from the owner of the dance company. "...Though we appreciate your child’s beautiful long hair, it is distracting to the other dancers and we ask that you please keep their hair tied back during class." Other dancers? Are you kidding me? She's FOUR! A few things you should know about Ms. Suzanna before I continue; she's in her late twenties (looks more like mid-thirties), she rarely smiles, is slightly overweight and always shows up for class in stiletto's, leg warmers and a white fleece scarf. She wears no make up, with the exception of thick, black eyeliner and I'm fairly certain she hates children. At pick-up, she's always sweating profusely and the kids are exhausted. My guess: she never made the cut at Atlanta Ballet and is thereby living vicariously through our 4-year-old girls.
Now that you are caught up on the mysterious Ms. Suzanna, let me finish my story. The day I received that email, I was out walking the dog with Isla. I stopped and told her that I just got an email from her ballet teacher. "What does it say?" she asked. "It says that, from now on, all the girls will have to wear a pony tail if they want to stay in ballet." "Well then, I quit!" she screamed, "I'm NEVER going back!" "Honey, you can't let one person stop you from doing what you want in life. You made a commitment and I want you to really think about it." A second later, she began her rebuttal, "Well I thought about it and I quit." "Listen..." I started, "I know you don't like the rules... frankly, I don't like them either, but those are the rules and I don't want you to give up on something you enjoy just because you don't like the rules. Don't let that stop you, sweetie. Just think about it." We walked another six steps and she stopped me. "Okay, I thought about it and I will wear a ponytail because I do like ballet, but I will not let her put it in my hair." "Fair enough!" I advised, "Mommy will put it up before school and if it gets loose, your teacher can fix it. I'm really proud of you, Isla. That was such a big-girl decision!" "Fanx, mommy!"
A week before the Winter Pageant, Isla announced that she no longer wished to pursue a career in dance. We agreed that she would give one last performance at the pageant and then she could wash her hands of all that business. Ms. Suzanna dramatically walked on stage 5 minutes late. Secretly, I hoped she would trip on that stiletto and give us all something to cheer about, but I had to settle for a couple of sporadically-twirling dancers bumping into each other and laughing the whole time... and just for the record, Isla cut her hair short so she wouldn't have to wear that stupid ponytail in her hair anymore. win-win.