When I was three years old my mom enrolled me in baby ballet as a way to help me overcome my shyness, and by shyness I mean my inability to detach myself from my mother’s leg while in public. For months she dressed me in adorable leotards, put my hair in pig tails, and ripped me from her leg in order to shove me through the dancing room doors only to have my dance teacher carry me out ten minutes later because I was sobbing and shattered because my mother forced me to tap, tap, perch without her .
She stuck it out, I stuck it out, and with weekly bribes of milkshakes, I grew to love ballet and bribery ridden milkshakes.
Years later when I heard the words “It’s A GIRL!” all I heard was “You’ve got yourself a baby ballerina!”
The thing about Mimi is that where I was shy and introverted she is FIRE and ready for action at all times. When I found a ballet studio that started kids as young as 18 months, I signed my girl up immediately.
When the day of her first class arrived I dressed her chunky little thighs in pink tights, I squeezed her into a pink leotard, and what ballet dance outfit would be complete without the pink shoes? I’m telling you this girl was made to be a baby ballerina!
Then the real fun started. In a class of six little girls, Mimi was the only one that refused to sit during circle time. She had more important things to do, like hang upside down on the ballet bar. When the girls were tiptoeing around in a circle, Mimi was busting a move of her own in front of the wall of mirrors.
Her ballet teacher said “She is a bit of a free spirit, huh?” Translation: “Get your freaking kid in check and following along with the tap, tap, perch.”
Mimi did take a break from her nonsense for costume time; here she is as a lamb:
But she was back in action with a random temper tantrum where her fellow ballerinas needed to dance around her because she was sprawled out in the middle of the wooden floor kicking and screaming.
One little girl listened to everything the teacher said, sat quietly next to her mother, and even answered the teacher’s questions. Surely this girl is way older than Mimi; maybe the reason Mimi was so unfocused is because she is so young? When the girls were dancing across the floor, I moved next to the ballerina’s mom and started to strike up a conversation. Here is how it went down.
Me: So Black Swan seems to really like this class.
Black Swan’s Mom: Yeah…
Me: I think Mimi really likes it too (watches Mimi do a belly slide across the floor).
Black Swan’s Mom: Umm hmmm…
Me: Soooooo… how old is Black Swan (sends up a silent prayer she is a really short three year old)?
Black Swan’s Mom: She will be two in March.
Me: (calculates that she is only three months older than Mimi) *Crap*
At the end of the hour I was sweating, mentally and physically exhausted, and in desperate need of a milkshake. Mimi strolled out of her first ballet class with a stamp on each hand and a smile on her face.
So maybe she won’t be dancing in Swan Lake, and I can assure you we won’t be on an episode of Dance Moms. In a few months she will have her first recital and I will drag each member of our family to sit in the front row and cheer on our free spirited, tiny dancer. Maybe she will follow along, but I if I was a betting woman I would say she makes up her own dance. I’m really OK with this because I get my baby ballerina and we both get milkshakes.