*WARNING: Crazy long post ahead*
Today was Observation Day at Addie's dance studio and all parents and grandparents were welcome to come watch the girls during class. I have been looking forward to this day for the past 5 months because the last observation day was in October when Addie was just starting to go into class by herself. I really didn't want her to regress and wonder why Mommies and Nanas were aloud in that day and not any other. So we skipped that observation and waited for today. I'm glad we skipped that day in October because for the past 5 months, Addie has been wonderful in class. She goes in excited and comes out excited. I have just been so proud of her for being such a big girl.
But sadly, for the past few weeks, Addie has been regressing again. I can think of a hundred different excuses to explain why this is happening after MONTHS of success: Lack of sleep one week, an illness another week, a birthday party hangover, etc. I can also blame it on the fact that her studio let three new 2-year-old girls in the class. These girls all just turned 2 and Addie and the rest of her class are all 3 or 3 1/2. This class started as a 2-3 year old group but that was in September. Now we are in March and after close to 7 months with the same little girls, it is a little distracting to them to see so many new faces. Plus, one of these new little girls cries every week like Addie did in the beginning so her mom has been sitting in class every week trying to help her transition. Addie has asked a few times why the "other mommy" is in class and maybe my explanation has been lost on her. I want this so badly to be the cause of her regression because hopefully this is something we can fix again. But there is another part of me that wonders if it is something bigger. I wonder if its something I'm doing wrong?
I really hate the parent spotlight sometimes. I hate the feeling of judging eyes on me as I try to discipline my child or try to reason with her. I know what judging eyes look like because I have my own pair. I know I have said just as many judgmental things while watching other parents because it's easy to judge when it's not you doing the parenting. You can look at a parent who is screaming at their child in Target and think, "Wow. Is that necessary? That mom should wait until she gets to the parking lot to do that.". But then a week later, I will be in the SAME Target yelling the SAME things at my daughter. And somewhere in the office supply isle, another woman is judging me the same way.
I wish women were easier on each other. Actually, I wish women were easier on themselves. I feel like 75% of the judgement we feel is coming from within and that is hard to ignore. Today, I felt many sets of judging eyes on me but none were more brutal than my own.
I literally spent my whole morning PRAYING that Addie would have a good ballet class today so that she could show Nana and Papa just how much she has learned. I had a knot in my stomach the whole way there but when she went running into the room, I thought we would be okay. She sat down in her circle and just started chatting away to Miss Shelly. All the moms were smiling and looking at me and I felt good. She was happy and excited and it was going to be okay.
But then Addie stood up for a second and Audrey sat down on her lily pad. In Audrey's defense, she probably didn't realize that Addie was sitting there because she was up moving around. But when Addie saw that someone else was on her lily pad, all hell broke loose. Addie tried to grab her lily pad back from Audrey, who was holding on to it for dear life, and the two began to have a tug-of-war. There was screaming, crying and just before it turned into a full on cat fight...I grabbed Addie and took her out of the room so we could talk.
As we stood in the hallway, I tried everything I could to get her to calm down and go back in. I was offering bribes, I was threatening to take away toys, you name it. I called my mom out for reinforcement and she was finally able to get Addie to go back into the room. But I stayed in the hallway. I couldn't go back in because I was so embarrassed. There, in front of EVERY other mom in the class, my daughter had a nervous breakdown over a lily pad. And then it took having my mom come out to get Addie to go back into class. I couldn't even fix the problem myself. So I stood in the hallway and cried for a minute.
I couldn't see them, but I could feel them. The judging eyes. The whispers. One mom saying to the other, "Oh my gosh...doesn't she have any control over her child?" I just wanted to leave.. But I knew I couldn't. I would have to go in and face the music. But before I did, Katie came out to tell me that she was sorry Audrey stole Addie's lily pad. Katie...my sweet cousin-in-law...trying to blame her child to make me feel better. Haha! She reassured me that she was feeling the judging eyes too and that we should just go in together and stand tall. And that we did.
By the time we went back into the room, all the girls were up dancing and running around like nothing happened. Addie...my little bipolar ballerina...was singing and dancing like she didn't just go crazy on her cousin. And Audrey was acting like Addie was her best friend again. I took a little 4 minute video so you could see the girls in action. Addie is in hotpink and Audrey is in sleeveless light pink. Honestly...can you even tell these girls were crying a minute ago?
You might have also noticed from the video that two other moms were dancing with their daughters. That's because their girls both started crying in class and it was the only way to get them dancing again. As I sat and watched them, I noticed that there was another little girl crying in the hallway, another tripped and fell and was crying on her mom's lap, and another was just wondering aimlessly while her mom screamed for her to listen. You can't see a lot of this in the video, but you can hear me laughing because I realized in that moment that there were no judging eyes on me. We were ALL in the same boat. Kids not listening, kids crying, kids wondering around, kids falling down...it was happening all around us. By this point we were all looking around laughing with each other...not at each other.
By the end of class, Addie had become Miss Shelly's helper. Another little girl didn't want to walk the balance beam and do her solo so the girl asked if Addie could come with her. And she did, proud as a little peacock.
The girls all finished their routine and did one final performance for us.
They did a great job and I think ALL of us were happy that class was finally over.
Before we left though, the girls all sang "Happy Birthday" to Audrey...
And then we headed to McDonald's to celebrate some more and all the kids indulged in an ice cream cone...
I think Blake may have been the only one to fully enjoy himself today. Ha!
We talked some more over lunch and realized that we all have difficult moments with our kids. We can feel totally proud one moment and completely humiliated the next. We never want to be the one with "that child" and we most certainly never want to be "that parent". But we all have that child and we are all that parent from time to time. But if we can all just accept that, I think there would be a lot less judging eyes. And a lot less crying in the hallway :-)
So friends...that was my day in a nutshell. I appreciate all of you who read to the end of this insanely long post. You guys are the best :-) Now I am going to go indulge in some wine. I think I earned it :-)