Thursday, March 09, 2006

Tiny Dancer

Yesterday was the final dance class for Nicholas. The session is over. Parents had been "banned" from actually being in the room during class time since the 2nd class, so on the last day the parents were welcomed back in and the kids put on a mini "performance". It was the cutest damn thing EVER! All the girls in the class (which is every.other.student other than Nicholas, the lone male) seemed to dress up extra-special for the last class. Hair was more neatly combed, and a few girls busted out their primo tutu's. And then there was my son. My son who does not own "dance clothes" specifically. My son who wore regular "street clothes", like normal. So in the midst of pale pink he stood out in blue pants and shirt like a sore thumb. But a cute sore thumb, truth be told. It made it even easier to pick him out of the crowd.

I've noted before that Nicholas seems to have a perfectionist streak. I don't know if it's the age - if most preschoolers show signs of perfectionism - or just a personality trait unique to him. Regardless, he was a little nervous about the performance part. He worried about it as we left the class last week, fearing "what if I don't remember what to do??!!?? I just know I won't get it right." But then he seemed to just let it go for the rest of the week, never really mentioning it or giving the impression of being stressed about it. But just minutes after arriving at dance class yesterday it became crystal clear that Nicholas really WAS worried about doing it all just right, and he buckled under the self-induced pressure. Completely fell apart.

He started strong. He willingly and enthusiastically took off his shoes and socks and found a place (aka piece of tape) at the front of the room. Lauren and I sat directly across from him, video camera at the ready. The kids went through their warm-up exercises and he was doing really well. Then he asked me if I would turn the viewing screen of the camera around so he could watch it while he danced. I said no - preferring him to pay attention to his teacher than be distracted by a video screen. Seemed reasonable to me. Only that was the straw that broke the camel's back and caused his emotional collapse. Or something. Because he suddenly started crying and rushed over to me, burying his face against me and sobbing. It was terribly disruptive. I told him that I was really hoping to watch him dance and could he please PLEASE go back and dance so I could see him?? Pleading didn't work. So I got tough. I told him that if he couldn't stop crying and making it hard for everyone else's parents to enjoy the dance then we would have to go. That upset him worse. But I needed to do something because all this carrying on was echoing in the room and causing a scene. So I packed up the camera, Lauren and Nicholas and went to leave. This escalated Nicholas's piercing crying, "no no no no NO NO NO Mama!! NOOOO!! [sob sob]" but we had to get out of there. I told him we'd take a minute outside and have a drink of water in order to calm down. He was cool with that. We sat and hugged and had some water and he calmed down. I told him how much I loved watching him dance and that it didn't matter if he got it perfect or if he made a mistake, I'd STILL love watching him dance. He then got concerned about, "but I'm missing everything!" It was at this point that the class came out to the lobby in order to take a break and have some water, and Nicholas was able to rejoin the class at this point. It was time for the tap dancing part, and it's like his attitude changed like a switch. He was suddenly OK again. Just like that. It's weird. It's like he had to get all his stress out and then he was good. He did the tap dancing part and felt good about his "performance". The teacher led them and he was able to follow her perfectly. I think he feared he'd have to do the dancing alone without anyone leading him, providing a safety net. But he did great and had a huge smile on his face. I got it on video and it's darling. He was very proud of himself, and I was even more proud of him. I told him when class was over that he danced so well, but more than that I was so proud of him for pulling it together and finishing the class. That he didn't quit or give up. That's more important to me than how well he danced. He got all swelled up - it was funny.

After class I told him that we'd be going out for a special celebratory lunch of his choosing. He was so excited about this! We enjoyed a nice lunch out (at which he ate even more than ME!) and the afternoon ended on a high note. I was worried there for a bit given his fit, but he turned it around and everything was OK in the end. We'll be enrolling him in more dance classes after we move. He enjoys it and it's so good for him.

I love a happy ending.

My tiny dancer, Nicholas. Busting a move. I'm so proud of you, buddy!

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