When we start class, especially at the beginning of the year, we go around and say our name, age, and favorite whatever I decide for that week. This typically becomes “color” or “princess” for my little ones since they have ready answers for those. (Plus It’s easier to remember when I’m unprepared, as per usual.)
This week I’ve asked what their favorite thing about ballet is.
Their answers vary from “making pizza” referring to a stretching exercise we do, to actual ballet terms they remember (specifically passé and plié), to one naming a specific assistant of mine 😂
When It gets to my turn, I tell them my favorite is teaching all of them–and it truly is.
There’s this quote that’s constantly in the back of my mind since I’ve had to stop dancing, “those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach.” Since first hearing this quote, I’ve resented it, but at this point in my life I am so grateful to be able to teach.
It’s slowing down, it’s becoming more and more minimal, but it’s still possible. And for that I am immensely grateful.
This year I’ve experienced my first true problematic parents. There’s really nothing else we could do to help the situation, so I’m trying not to beat myself up about it and instead try and learn from it. Still, every time I get to that class I find myself tensing up, knowing that the parents will be watching through the window (which at this point most don’t.) I feel pressure. It’s not my favorite. It’s the first time I’ve had a few months where I wasn’t looking forward to teaching, actually looking forward to the years end. Obviously, I’m not looking forward to everything ending, but the bits that make me feel like this.
I wrote out cards to each of my kids, like I do every year, and planned to get lollipops for them. A simple way to end the year. When I was their ages, teachers meant a lot to me. I still keep in touch with my second grade teacher, as well as many from high school. Their opinion of me was something I held in high regard, and how they made me feel is a sort of guide point I use in hopes to teach these kids the way I was privileged to be treated and hopefully they can feel the way I did. I want them to like coming to ballet, to feel safe in my class, to know someone cares about them. I want this to be a positive experience for them, whether they stick with it or not.
This week, as I handed out candy and cards to each of my kids, making sure I bring extra lollipops for siblings, a couple of the moms thanked me and the kids came running up hugging me and telling me they love me (which, honestly, melt.) one of the moms of one of my 4 year olds was asking me about recital details between classes and a lady next to her asked me if I would be teaching in the summer and next fall. I told her I would only be teaching saturdays (this was during the week) since I have ME and have to slow it down a bit and asked how old her dancer was. She said one daughter already dances but she has a 4 year old she wants to put in. I told her I have a 4-5 year old class that if she can make I’d love to have her. She responded, “these kids all love you so much, I want my daughter to have you as a teacher. What’s your name?”
She was the second person that day who didn’t know me, encountered me around other dancers, and asked who I was so their child could be in my class.
And honestly, I feel pretty crappy quite a bit. Especially as I’m still learning to accept the changes being sick has brought on. I’m having to give up more than I ever wanted and missing out on stuff I had hoped to be a part of. So to have these two simple reminders at the end of such a long year full of so many challenges and changes really meant a lot to me. It felt like I’m still doing something right. That even though a few classes didn’t rise to where I had hoped they would by the end, that it wasn’t a waste to try anyway. That the time we spent together was still valuable, even if most of it was spent correcting the things I had already corrected 7 times in the last 10 minutes. (And all the moms and mom figures say “amen.”)