Sometimes our kids are the best teachers.
"What is a ballerina, mama?" my daughter Abby, who is two and a half asked me.
"A dancer. They do a special dance called 'ballet'. They are very graceful." I answered.
Then she replied, "I want to do ballet."
Cue the I-swear-I-wasn't-going-to-be-this-kind-of-mom who does obsessive research on ballet classes. After feeling overwhelmed by the amazing opportunities we have near us, I decided: simple is better.
She's only two! We'd just take an easy class to start at the nearby recreation center. (Which of course, I had to get up at the crack of dawn to register for because even that one fills up in the first six minutes it opens!)
Then, the 10-times-a-day daily question, "Is today my ballet class?" began.
Fast forward a few months, and it was finally time for ballet!
We showed up to her first class, Abby was decked out head-to-toe in ballerina pink. As we walked in I thought, Ahhh why did I get sucked into buying so much new gear at Target? Wasn't I keeping this simple?
We were a bit early but wondered after a while why no one else was showing up. We waited with unprecedented patience. Where is everyone? The studio is dark. There are no kids. No teacher. My mom brain on overdrive.
We eventually got our answer: The class had been canceled and they didn't call me or update it online.
THIS WAS A HUGE BUMMER.
(By the way, I realize this is totally the definition of a #FirstWorldProblem.)
But we were disappointed regardless.
In a, "Do I completely lose my marbles…or do I try to make the best of it?" mom moment, I opted for the latter and I asked to borrow the dance studio, then asked the recreation center director if she had any music we could play, and she did! She had the entire range of ballet classics on CD. So, me and my tiny dancer started our class.
At first, I was dancing around while Abby stood there mystified ("where's the teacher and kids?"). And then. THEN. One person joined us. Then another. Senior citizens from other classes, who had seen us earlier waiting in the hall came in and joined us in our impromptu class.
Did she hide behind me? Did she question it? Nope.
She watched intently as one gentleman plopped down a mat on the floor and demonstrated Tai Chi for her. His slow and methodical arm motions sweeping around in circles while she stood there pretty-in-pink, completely mesmerized. "Edelweiss" played in the background.
She twirled with the woman who said she hasn't done ballet in many decades, but who didn't look like she had forgotten any moves if you ask me.
Abby laughed and spun around. I did the same, ignoring any self-conscious feelings about prancing about in my sweatpants in front of strangers and big mirrors. We danced our hearts out to the ballet rendition of "Let it Go."
And you know what?
It felt GREAT.
"Ballet is about grace, Abby," I remember telling her when we first talked about doing this class. And turns out, I was right about that. The community showed us grace by dancing with us, even though they didn't know what exactly we were doing. Abby demonstrated grace by going with the flow. I demonstrated grace to my toddler by turning lemons into lemonade.
We had one heck of a lesson in grace.
I learned a few important things on this day of the best-not-a-ballet-class-ever:
1. We all lose it as moms in stressful situations with kids.
If you can try to avoid completely falling apart (total permission to do so if need be) and find an alternative, a solution—often the next step turns out better than the original plan. Hard one for me to embrace as a Type A person. But I have thought a lot about the memory I made with Abby on this ballet day and how that wouldn't have happened (nor could I share my story here) if I hadn't remained calm and upbeat. It would have been a totally different story had I succumbed to the disappointment of this bump in the road.
2. Children are the epitome of grace.
(I know, that's hard to believe with a toddler, stay with me here).
Grace is all about effortlessness; kids have this innately. They can find fun in just about everything and anything (you know—like playing with a box for hours). Their growing minds are so curious; colors and smells and shapes and music are stimulating and intriguing. They don't have the inhibitions that we have as adults. They will twirl anywhere. Even better if there is a mirror to watch themselves do it. We should take note: It's really fun to twirl in front of a mirror.
3. There are wonderful people all around us.
These are pretty hard times with a lot of bad stuff going on in the news. But don't forget, mama, that there are SO many amazing people with pure love in their hearts. I could just cry (okay, okay, I did) about those people at the recreation center who pitched in, without asking—without even speaking about it out loud, honestly—to help make it a memorable 30-minutes for Abby. Effortless giving. We should take a cue from them, too, and be those people; help other mamas every chance you get.
Best ballet class EVER.