Dance Mom



by Lindsay Gallagher on 01/17/2013



For some reason, since the start of the spring semester at ballet, Tess has been down on herself.  It’s a bummer.  She had a great Nutcracker, got a good part, had the time of her life, now she comes out of class saying her teacher doesn’t like her.

“She wants you to work hard, but I know she likes you,” I said.

“Not anymore,” Tess said.

I don’t want to sit outside of class, on the floor, peeking through a half-closed door.  It hurts my neck and makes me feel seasick.  There isn’t an observation room like at Abby Lee’s. (Thankfully our moms are not insane or even catty — I really enjoy them — but if we’re going to hang out and sew pointe shoes and gossip, I’d prefer to do it at the bar down the block).  Anyway, I was curious to see what Tess was talking about, so I went.  She was working hard and even got a couple “goods,” which are like gold nuggets to ballet students, zero-calorie chocolate bars.

“You looked great,” I said when she lugged her enormous bag through the jammed door.

“No, my ribs are too big.  I have a swayed back.  I look fat.”

Oh no!

“You’re not fat.  That’s ridiculous.  You’re just standing wrong.”

“What?” she said, eyes spewing tears.

“You can fix your ribs.  That’s easy .”

“No I can’t.  It’s nature.”

I think what I’m supposed to do is tell her that she’s perfect and wonderful and that the teacher loves her because she’s so perfect and wonderful.  She is perfect and wonderful and I love her, but she was standing wrong.

“You need to squeeze your butt.  Tuck it under.  You lock your knees which makes your butt sick out which makes your ribs look big.”

Tess was appalled.  Mortified.  “Why are you being so mean?”

“I’m not being mean – I’m helping.  I can help.  Let me help.”

Joe can do this with Ronan at the batting cages:  turn in your front leg, don’t choke up on the bat, use your legs – apparently ballet is different.  We can tell Ronan to play catch every day, but it feels creepy to force my daughter to say, stretch, even though, honestly, she should stretch.

“You need to make me stretch,” she said the other day in the car.

“I tell you you should stretch all the time.”

“You tell me I should stretch, but you don’t make me do it.”  She was mad.  And we were listening to the Disney channel.

“I don’t want to be one of those crazy dance moms.”

“But I want you to be one of those crazy dance moms.”

Be careful what you wish for.

About Lindsay Jamieson

Author of Beautiful Girl, mother of 2, wife of cinematographer, former dancer, snowboarder -- recovered bulimic.
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