Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Boy Cooties

I never thought it would happen so fast. But it seems that Nicholas has developed a scorching case of Boy Cooties at the tender age of 4 1/2 years. I KNOW! Too young to have them, yet if the actions of a cute little girl in his dance class are to be believed, he has them but good.

Today was Nicholas's first dance class. It's just an intro to dance (Dance Sampler I) class for kids aged 3-5 offered through our city's Recreation programs. It's once a week for 45 minutes. These babies are going to learn, or at least be introduced to, tap, ballet, and creative movement. It was the cutest damn thing I've seen in a long, long time! Nicholas has always been attracted to dancing. He dances around the living room all the time. He leaps, spins, does this crazy Flashdance quick stepping move I don't dare try to replicate, and uses his whole body to move with the music. He tends to prefer classic music and chooses those CD's first. Or lately a jazz CD we have of kids music (if you've never heard Old MacDonald done in jazz you're missing out). So enrolling my son in a dance class seemed very appropriate. Plus, most girls will tell you, a boy/man who can dance (and is willing to!) is cool, attractive and sexy. There's a reason a lot of Americans watch Dancing With The Stars. A man who can dance well is HOT.

Nicholas was SO EXCITED for his class. Waiting until 11:10 to leave was like a slow water torture for him. "Is it time to leave for dance class YET??!" was asked 523 times. At least. The class description said that if your child did not have their own ballet slippers they could dance barefoot and that tap shoes would be available. I did not rush out and buy Nicholas ballet slippers, preferring to let him go barefoot and see how this whole dance class thing plays out before buying the "props". I had him wear "danseur" attire, modified for what his wardrobe contains. In lieu of black dance tights he wore black sweatpants. Instead of a tight-fitting white t-shirt he wore one that fit loosely. It was the best we could do. And barefoot. We get there and he's the ONLY boy in the class filled with little ballerinas decked out in leotards, tights and skirts/tutu's. Many had brand-new ballet slippers and a few even owned their own tap shoes. The girls were darling and my son didn't seem to care one iota that he was the only boy. He was too intent on making sure he was following the teachers instructions and was in the right place. He's all about the rules, my son.

The teacher, who had a pair of ballet slippers tattooed on her lower back (to prove how SERIOUS she is about dancing, I suppose??!), had the kids stand in a row. Each had a strip of tape to show them where they should be. She then went through some stretching and warm-up's. The parents all had to hide our smirks and giggles watching these little people stretch. Rounded bellies, bent knees, and arms that don't go very far past the tops of their heads make for comical stretching. They did the "Head Shoulders Knees & Toes" song/dance, which Nicholas knows well, and the "Hokey Pokey", which he also knows but very few of the girls could do. I guess their parents aren't geeks like I am.

When it was time to find some tap shoes I had to really contain myself because, wouldn't you know it, but all the tap shoes were for girls. Not that it really matters at this age, but still - ! Here's my son trying to find a pair of black patent leather tap shoes, complete with a big ribbon tied on the top. They screamed GIRL SHOES from across the room and beyond. I had to try to keep a straight face when I told him the shoes were for everyone, including boys, and it's just how tap shoes looked. He cut quite a dashing look standing there on his piece of tape with his sweatpants and shiny shoes all tied up with a big fat bow. It was a proud, proud moment. I'm just glad Mr. Chick wasn't there - I'm not sure how he'd have handled it. He would have cringed harder than me and probably wouldn't have been able to hide it well. He already fears that Nicholas will end up being gay. The teacher had the kids tap their toes, then their heels. Nicholas did fantastic! Better than most of the girls, thankyouverymuch.

Then it was on to ballet. The teacher showed the kids how to put their feet in first position (heels together, toes pointing out) and plie. This is where the giggles and chortles from the peanut gallery were the loudest. Watching these kids trying to control their little bodies was hilarious and precious at the same time. The teacher is telling them to keep their backs straight, like a big stick is going from their heads to their bottoms, and then to bend their knees. Don't stick your bottoms out! OMG - the gyrations of these kids were going through trying to comply with what the teacher told them - ! At one point it looked like Nicholas did a robot/breakdance move as he was bending his knees because then he remembered to keep his back straight, which he tried to do, and then he tried to keep his butt from sticking out, and the effect was like a ripple went through his whole body. Amazing to see. And freaking hilarious!

After the plies it was time to leap across the floor. The teacher had made "pools" out of tape that the kids were supposed to leap over as they went from one end of the room to the other. They all did this with various degrees of success and grace. Then she asked the kids to do it in pairs. "Pair up, everyone! Find a partner to leap with." And here is where my heart broke. The girls all immediately gravitated to each other and poor Nicholas is just looking at me, very pointed and with a hint of despair, because he's not sure what to do. No one is asking him to be their buddy. The teacher paired him up with a girl who pulled away like he was the foulest creature ever. "He doesn't bite", the nice teacher said. But the little ballerina was not buying it. Clearly a strong case of Boy Cooties if there ever was one. I wanted to pop up and volunteer to be his partner so badly! That's my son there, feeling bad because he's the only boy and no girl wants to be near him suddenly. The nerve of these prima donnas! And yet, I understood the girls' point of view. At that age (although I would have thought we wouldn't be dealing with this for another couple of years...) boys ARE icky. Don't you remember how it was? I mean - ewww! Boys - they smell funny, they act strange, they're different. Girls were way better. But now, as an adult and a mother, I had to repress my urge to protect my son from this. Finally, the teacher told the girl "you don't have to touch each other." and that seemed to work. She was then willing to leap across the floor next to him. But she didn't like it. That was crystal clear. Thankfully, Nicholas seemed oblivious to her displeasure and was just enjoying the leaping part. Boys, they can be dense. And then, redemption! The teacher switched up the partners and the little girl she asked to be Nicholas's partner was more than willing to leap across the floor with him. So willing, in fact, she held his hand the whole time. My own heart swelled with gratitude for her for being so innocent that the fact that he was a boy didn't matter - yet. It will someday, but not today, and that made me happy.

I was so proud of Nicholas today. My little danseur. He did so well! He listened to his teacher. He tried everything. He demonstrated some aptitude. He had fun and was proud of himself. What more could I ask for? And as we were leaving another mother commented to me that she thinks he's the best of the class. Did you hear that?! The BOY outperformed the girls in dance class today. Whooppeee!! Go Nicholas! So much for stereotypes. I'm really looking forward to next weeks class. It's the last one I'll be able to watch before the parents are kicked out and forced to wait outside in the lobby until the final class when the kids will "perform" their new dance skills. I suspect his interest in dance will serve him well in his lifetime. At least, I hope so!

Comments:
This is one of your most poignant posts. Absolutely precious.
 
I have to agree with Holly. Wow.

So amazing.

Kelly
 
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